Change orders can be a hot topic for disputes during any construction project. Because they can potentially lead to construction litigation, it is helpful to know what change orders are and be familiar with some tips for dealing with change order disputes.
What are change orders?
A change order is essentially an amendment to a construction contract that changes the construction contractor’s scope of work. Change orders commonly modify the work required in the contract which typically also increases the price of the contract. There may need to be modifications to contract price for a change in cost of materials or the time it will take the contractor to complete the work or both. Both the owner and the contractor must agree to all of the terms of the change.
Help with change order disputes
Change order disputes may arise between owners and contractors as to whether a change is an actual change, which will cost more money and time, or is part of the original scope of the contract and included in the original contract price. It is best for all change orders to be in writing. In some circumstances, the owner and contractor may have waived this requirement by their words and actions. It is also helpful to be able to look at different documents to determine if a change order is justified which can be different in different situations. Clauses may be included in the contract that determine if written specifications or drawings control.
Construction contracts, projects and change orders can all be full of complexities it is important to be able to sort out. For that reason, owners and contractors should be familiar with change orders and how construction law may help when disputes arise.