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Construction Change Order Causes & How to Avoid Them

The reasons behind change orders vary from project to project. Sometimes due to scope changes, and sometimes because of unforeseen conditions, these situations might prompt you to request additional time and funds in order to complete contractual obligations. A construction change order can turn into quite a headache when the complexity and time frame of the requested change have schedule constraints. Construction change order management should form part of every contract and a good project management should be able to navigate and understand all contract documents. Many of these changes can lead to legal battles, disputes and arbitration. Which is why it is key to manage your change orders properly with a construction project management software like TRUE.

Drawing Errors

The most common situation that calls for change orders can be errors and omissions in the project scope. Inadequate details, misrepresentation or simply avoidance to prepare a complete set of detailed drawings can lead to serious change order requests. Inaccurate details and misrepresenting the exact environment of the construction site can also lead to construction change order claims. As a construction project manager, be sure to review all contract documents and verify that the owner provided information is accurate and references the latest standards and specs.

Inaccurate Specifications

Sometime the drawing asks for one product but the specs calls for another. This is very common on construction projects when drawings are assigned to different consultants, each one of them acting on their own, without any kind of direction from a team leader. This leaves the contractor with the difficult task of assuming and quoting on one article, but when the installation is going to be made, the owner, requires another article to be installed, instead of the one that you have already quoted. A great remedy to this problem, is utilizing a construction project management software, like TRUE, that can keep all of the information for key parties in one shared database.

Design Changes

For some projects, your team may have to start a construction project without the complete scope of the project and without final drawings. This type of error is also common on design-build projects, where the on-going process of design can lead to having to halt work or produce economic impact in the project. Design changes can lead to stop work orders, and major changes that can even cause labor issues due to delays in project execution.

Unforeseen Conditions

Your team’s assumption on site conditions or any other issue regarding the construction of the project can be different from the actual conditions that you find on the site. If the project drawings specify a certain amount of work or materials, when, in fact, the amount of materials is far more, then a change order must be issued. With TRUE Construction Management Software, you are able to document the details of the site conditions and show exactly what is needed to proceed with the project.


Substitutions come into play when a contractor cannot get the specified materials or there is a shortage in supplies. This is a bit different because it can lead to another issue: a credit will be asked if the material cost is less, or sometimes the contractor will have to make up the difference in costs between materials and/or products. The owner can even ask for upgrades during construction, in this case you must submit a change order request requesting extra compensation and time associated with the proposed modifications.

Regardless of the reasoning behind a change order, it is no secret that change orders can complicate an already complex process. Make it easier on yourself and your team by adopting construction project management software, like TRUE.