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A closer look at the role of change orders in the construction sector

From developers and architects to general contractors and construction management agencies, ask any experienced party and they will tell you that the process of constructing any structure is at best an inexact science.

That’s because the architects or design team will first devise construction documents to be used by various builders to prepare their bids for submission. Once the builder is selected — whether a general contractor, construction management agency or construction management at risk — these documents will then be distributed amongst the individual trades/subcontractors who will prepare shop drawings based on their own interpretations.

From there, the design team will review the shop drawings and, if acceptable, the process will proceed with orders for material placed, crews retained and building construction undertaken.

What all of this really serves to underscore is that the process of constructing any sort of structure involves input from a considerable number of parties and is constantly evolving, such that good communication and expert planning at all levels are an absolute necessity.

Indeed, a major component of any project’s success is the execution of legally sound contract documents and, by extension, effective use of change orders to account for the vicissitudes of the market and other unforeseen developments.

In general, change orders are the sole avenue through which the parties to a construction contract can legally amend its terms after the project has been bid and the agreement executed. They can do everything from adjust the timeframe for completion of the project to changing the actual amount of the contract.

All this, of course, begs the question as to the reasons why change orders need to executed, something we’ll explore further in a future post.

In the meantime, if you have questions about change orders or construction delays, or would like to learn more about your options as they relate to construction disputes, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional able to provide answers and pursue solutions.