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CT Building: What’s the Big Deal About “Change Orders”?

ct buildingWhen you think about building or remodeling your home, you probably don’t think too much about “Change Orders.” But some builders and remodelers are adamant about documenting every deviation from the original plan. What’s the big deal about change orders? Aren’t they just a big headache?

Believe it or not, these pesky little forms are actually for your own good—and for the good of your contractor. Written change orders protect both of you from unwanted surprises when it’s time to pay the bill. As a homeowner, you should know exactly what additions to the contract are going to cost and how they are going to affect the schedule so you’re not blindsided at the end of the project. And having written changes can prevent the builder from making incorrect assumptions about what the homeowner wants (“When you told me to lower the floor ‘a bit’ I assumed your meant three inches—not three feet!”).

There are lots of details to coordinate in a building or remodeling project. Putting your change requests in writing ensures that your request won’t be overlooked. Even the most conscientious contractor can’t always keep them straight without help. If your contractor is in the middle of a tricky part of the project and you mention a change you want made as you’re walking out of the house, it’s not realistic to expect him to remember all the details—even if he nods his head in agreement!

Written change orders give you another advantage. They ensure that your wishes are expressed exactly the way you want them. Your contractor can’t come back later and claim that he thought you meant something else. There’s a real potential for verbal change orders to blow up in your face. And even though it may be unintentional —both you and the contractor can end up losing.

So don’t fight it when your contractor insists on using written change orders. He’s not trying to be difficult. He’s protecting both of you.