When the owner of the construction project on which you are working makes changes to your scope of work, you have every right to request a change order. A change order is a modification to the construction contract that changes the work the contract documents require and, therefore, the price. Unfortunately, because owners and contractors rarely agree on what constitutes a change, change order disputes in Tennessee are not uncommon. For this reason, the American Bar Association provides tips for how to handle change order disputes.

Before you pursue a change order dispute, you must first decide if a change order is necessary or not. Review the contract documents along with the requests for information, fieldwork orders and other relevant paperwork to determine if the original language of each in any way committed you to perform the new work. You should also look to the order-of-precedence clauses, which dictate whether drawings or written specifications control the work.

Know that if you proceed with additional work without first securing a written change order, you may be out of luck. To receive payment for extra work that you perform, you must have the owner’s written permission. The only exception to this rule is if the original contract waived this requirement.

If you are a subcontractor, make sure to secure your own written change order. A change to the general contractor’s contact does not apply to your agreement. To ensure you get paid for all the work you do, obtain your own change order.

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only.