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Common Causes for a Change Order

Common reasone why a change order is being requested


Common Causes for a Change Order

Construction change orders can affect adversely a construction project.

By Rutlo

Most common causes for a change order can vary from one project to another, but still they are additions that need to be quantified in terms of time and money. Change orders, sometimes are a headache when the complexity and time frame of the requested job are tight. Change order management is another different process than regular contract documents, and most common causes for change orders can lead to legal battles, disputes and arbitration.

Drawings Errors and/or Omissions

The most claimed situation for allowing change orders. Inadequate details, misrepresentation o simply avoidance to prepare a complete set of detailed drawings can lead to serious change order requests. Sometimes leaving out details and misrepresenting the exact environment in which the construction will be held at, can also lead to change order claims.

Design Changes

Several outer factors can lead us to start a construction project without a complete scope of the project and start the construction without final drawings. This type of error is also common on design-build projects, where the on-going process of design can induce to work stoppage or produce economic impact in the project.


Sometime the drawing asks for one product but the specs calls for another. This situation is very common on construction projects where the 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.

Unforeseen Conditions

How many times do you have to complete a soil boring? Soil problems, in particular, are the most common problems with unforeseen conditions. Soil studies can induce you to expect some condition based on specific testing. This could be wrong. Your assumptions on the soil conditions or any other issue regarding the construction of the project can be different from the actual conditions that you find on the site. Also, if the drawings specify a certain amount of work, when, in fact, the amount of materials is almost double, and then a change order must be issued.


This is normally a contractor’s idea to substitute material, when he cannot get the specified materials or there is a shortage in supplies. This is kind of 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 absorb the costs’ difference between materials and/or products. Sometimes, the Owner also asks for some upgrades during the construction process, in this case you must submit a change order request claiming the economic and time costs associated with the proposed modifications.

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