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Change Orders: Reducing Risk Through Preparation

Change orders are comparable to traffic jams – they are inevitable and bound to happen. Still, there are proactive measures that can increase the likelihood of staying safe and covering damage if an accident were to happen.

During a construction project, parties will submit plenty of change orders, but the real challenge comes in when trying to preserve the workflow initially set in place. RedTeam’s cloud-based solution helps ensure GCs stay ahead of change orders, and can maintain the integrity of a project’s workflow through its comprehensive platform.

Reducing Common Problems That Lead to Change Orders

Construction projects are complex, making the many different reasons for change orders complex as well. However, there are three main reasons change orders are submitted: errors in drawings, design changes, and inaccurate specifications.

Errors in Drawings:

GCs should work to reduce errors in drawings during the design phase. RedTeam’s platform allows GCs to reduce the number of errors and omissions present in drawings because of its collaborative component. Using the platform, GCs can digitally share all documents involved in a project on one platform – increasing the chances of catching errors ahead of time.

Design Changes:

Project owners and design teams change direction on projects constantly, making it common for them to give verbal directives on the site of a project. To protect oneself, GCs need to remember that documentation is key to reduced liability. Immediately documenting and sharing verbal directives through RedTeam’s platform creates a digital trail that eliminates confusion and litigation down the line.

Inaccurate Specifications:

Communication, collaboration, and visibility are the keys to success on a project – especially as it relates to change orders. Using RedTeam’s platform, GCs are given the tools to better communicate with all partners on a project. Because information is updated in real-time on the platform, all users that have access to documents are able to know the ins and outs of a project without being on-site.

Negative Impact of Limited Documentation

There is a lot that can go wrong if GCs don’t document interactions, orders, and alterations made to a project and its timeline.

Real-World Scenario:

A designer is granted full creative freedom on a project by the owner. One day the project designer comes to the site and decides they want to move a wall three feet. Although the GC advised against the shift because of its impact on the project’s time and cost, the designer still wanted to move forward with their demand as an authority on the project. The GC followed through with the designer’s directive without documenting it through an RFI and noted the request internally but nowhere else. Eventually, the owner received a $500,000 invoice, and the simple directive given to the GC turned into a conflict and negatively impacted their relationship with the owner.

Although the GC followed the proper protocol by internally documenting the change, they did not take the extra step of sending out a change order to all parties involved in the project. Through the use of RedTeam, users can streamline the change order process in a way that gives everyone involved – from the owner to a team member – visibility into changes on the project.

Change Order Best Practices

There are several actionable steps GCs can take to protect themselves and their business from the negative impact change orders can have. These steps can help GCs better streamline the change order process and reduce conflict down the line such as standardizing the process and creating a form.

Through the creation of a standardized change order process, GCs will make it clear what process to take when on a project. By creating this standard for success, GCs reduce the likelihood of harming professional relationships with owners.

GCs can also create a change order form that allows everyone involved in the project to submit the same type of information when submitting the document. Reducing the ambiguity of the kind of information needed will increase project transparency.

To eliminate confusion that can lead to tarnished relationships down the line, GCs should invest in streamlined software. RedTeam’s solutions give GCs the transparency and collaboration needed to save reputations and maintain success.

As noted earlier, change orders are very common during the construction of a project. Even though they are very common, they still are often the cause of many construction conflicts. The importance of proper and complete documentation cannot be overlooked and more often than not the defaulted documentation will damage the relationship between GC and owner, as well as subcontractors.

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