Managing variations during your building works

Variations or change orders naturally occur on the majority of all building works from small bathroom renovations to building a brand new home. Below is a list of common reasons why variations or change orders come about.

  1. Drawing & documentation package

Issue:
Specific details within drawing & documentation packages are limited during the tendering and building phase.

Resolution:
If you are one to be quite concerned over the amount of potential variations within your project then spend the time and money up front planning and documenting all the required detail. Liaise with the builder & architect/draftsmen before signing the contract ensuring the builder has received all the required information to price everything accordingly. This is a key stage where a high level of trust is formed and the relationship only grows stronger if all parties are open and honest from the onset.

  1. Unable to provide a fixed price on the unknown

Issue:
There will be many situations where the builder will not be able to provide a fixed price due to unknown situations. A common example is during earthworks. Once earthworks commence, you may find that the excavator digs up asbestos buried below. No one could forecast this occurrence. A variation or change order would need to be agreed and signed by both the client and builder before the removal of asbestos takes place.

Resolution:
Relating to the above example there is no clear way to predict the findings of certain types of debris underneath the ground until you excavate. If I gave the example of hitting rock, then a solution to minimizing the extent of the variation cost would be to get a geo-tech report complete and then builders should be happy to lock in a fixed price based on the reports findings.

  1. Client changes

Issue:
From experience, KEEDAH has found that a large % of variations or change orders come from clients making changes during the building works.

Resolution:
If you don’t like the idea of multiple variations or change orders then ensure all the planning is thorough during the design phase and that you are 100% happy with the material choices and design that has been completed and approved. Keep changes to a minimum during the building works phase.

  1. Exclusions – set out in contract

Issue:
Within the exclusion section of the contract you will find key items that have been excluded from the contract for various reasons by the builder. There are occasions where some of these items are mandatory during the build and if you have not included them in the scope then you will be hit with a variation during the build to include these items.

Resolution:
Ensure you read the exclusions section of the contract in detail and query each item and it’s relevance to your building works. If you are wanting a more accurate quote (or budget) then get the builder to price everything that can be priced into the tender and minimize the exclusions.