Avoid Change Orders Unless You Know These Tips!

Avoid Change Orders Unless You Know These Tips!

Back view of worker explaining something to businessman through window with city view. Architecture concept

“A change order is when there is something that you would like to add to the house that is not the original executed plan set.” Bryan.


Welcome to a crucial discussion on minimizing change orders in your home construction project. A change order, as explained by Breven Homes, a trusted custom home builder in Central Texas, occurs when you wish to incorporate modifications that deviate from the original construction plan. In this article, we’ll provide you with essential tips to help you navigate the intricate world of change orders, enabling you to make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary complications during your home building journey.

What is a change order?

A change order refers to a request for alterations or additions to a construction project that deviates from the initial, agreed-upon plans and specifications for a house. These changes can involve modifications to the design, materials, or scope of work and often come from the homeowner’s desire for specific features or adjustments not included in the original building plan. Change orders are typically documented and agreed upon through a formal process, ensuring clarity and accountability in the construction project.

Why is a change order needed?

Change orders are essential to construction projects, allowing adjustments to the original plan. They become necessary for several reasons, often tied to organizational, financial, and schedule-related modifications. This part aims to explain why change orders are needed, emphasizing the importance of understanding and managing them effectively.

Organizational Changes:

Organizational changes, such as design revisions or modifications in project specifications, are among the primary reasons for needing a change order. When homeowners, architects, or construction teams encounter unforeseen issues or decide to incorporate new ideas, these alterations can disrupt the original project scope. For instance, a homeowner might decide to install a larger window in the living room for better natural light or opt for a different type of flooring. Change orders are essential in documenting and implementing these alterations in a structured manner.


Financial Changes:

Financial changes represent another critical dimension requiring change orders. Construction budgets are carefully planned, and any unexpected alterations can impact project costs significantly. This might include unforeseen material price increases, the need for additional materials or labor, or even cost-saving measures that lead to a reduction in expenses. Change orders help ensure that all financial adjustments are documented, approved, and properly managed to maintain transparency and accountability throughout the project.


Schedule Changes:

The schedule is the third vital aspect necessitating change orders. Delays or accelerations in the project timeline can occur due to various factors, such as weather conditions, availability of materials, or unforeseen site conditions. Change orders play a pivotal role in modifying the project schedule to accommodate these shifts. If a client decides to add a new room or feature, this can extend the project duration. Conversely, if there’s a need to expedite the project due to time constraints, a change order can document these schedule modifications.


In simple terms, a change order is like the blueprint for change in a construction project. It serves as the official record of all alterations made to the original plan, ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page. Change orders are essential for maintaining clarity, preventing disputes, and managing the project effectively. By documenting organizational, financial, and schedule-related changes, they enable homeowners and builders to adapt to evolving project requirements while keeping the project’s scope, budget, and timeline in check.

The fixed price and cost plus change orders

There are two primary methods for dealing with change orders: fixed price and cost plus change orders.


Fixed Price Change Orders:

Fixed price change orders are a straightforward approach to handling alterations in a construction project. In this method, the builder assesses the proposed changes, calculates the total cost involved, and then presents a final, all-inclusive price to the homeowner. This price remains fixed, regardless of any unexpected expenses that may arise during the execution of the change order. Homeowners benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing the exact cost of the requested modifications upfront. Fixed price change orders are ideal when both parties want cost certainty and a clear budget.


Cost Plus Change Orders:

In contrast, cost-plus change orders provide a more flexible and transparent approach. Here, the builder presents an estimate of the change order’s cost to the homeowner, outlining the expected expenses and any potential additional costs that might emerge during the implementation of the changes. This method offers greater transparency as homeowners are aware of the individual cost components involved. However, it also means that the final cost can fluctuate if unforeseen expenses arise. Cost-plus change orders are a practical choice when the project’s scope is subject to numerous adjustments and when the homeowner wishes to closely monitor expenses.


In summary, steering clear of change orders in your home construction project is paramount, and arming yourself with the right knowledge is key to achieving this goal. As Breven Homes, a trusted custom home builder in Central Texas, advises, it’s essential to thoroughly plan and communicate your needs from the outset, ensuring that your original executed plan set aligns with your vision. While change orders can sometimes be necessary, following these tips and maintaining clear communication with your builder can save you time, money, and the potential for added stress during the construction process, ultimately leading to a smoother and more satisfying home-building experience.


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