Handling Change Orders & New Items

Handling Change Orders & New Items

Megan Sullivan

While the final building project matters most, we all know that clients are also buying a building experience.

For that experience to be smooth and successful, we recommend using a consistent process for handling new choices that come up during the design and construction process.

Here's the heart of it: Any decision that affects the outcome of that project belongs on the Specs & Selections.

The selections process involves presenting options, refining choices, discussing them, and getting signoff. Whether it's picking a wall color or changing the plans to add a new wall, both things go through that process. And we've crafted the Specs & Selections page for you to do all of those things easily, in one spot.

At the end of the day, you then have a complete record, on one page, of everything everyone decided.

Now, isn't that a nice change from the pre-CoConstruct days?

Of course, sometimes one of those choices results in a change in scope or a change in cost. That's when that selection item becomes a line item on a formal change order.

Now, you could just skip the whole selection and just create an change order by typing in everything there. But, consider this situation (based on a true story from a builder in Colorado):

He's building for a couple. The husband wants a "man zone" in the garage. He has his workshop table there. He's got a flat screen mounted for watching the game with his buds. Speaking of Buds, he's got an extra outlet for the beer fridge.

But what goes in must come out.

So he asks for the builder to price out adding a mudroom.

The builder draws it up. The client sees it, and (shockingly) it's more than the client wants to spend.

Contractors complain about "champagne taste on a beer budget." Apparently "beer on a beer budget" is a problem, too.

Anyway, do you know what solution they reached?

They got one of those fiberglass basin sinks and cut off all but a few inches of the legs. Why? Well, that made it just the right height for the husband and his b-e-e-r (said in a Homer Simpson voice) buddies to stand over it, in the garage, and relieve themselves into the sink.

Seriously. True story. We couldn't make this up if we tried.

Client was happy. Builder was happy. Friends' bladders were happy.

That's the backstory. So how would this play out in CoConstruct? Take a look:

#1 - The Selection Way

1. Builder adds a new selection item for the mudroom, complete with a price and a drawing attached as a PDF.
2. Client adds a comment that it costs too much.
3. Builder and client trade some comments as they brainstorm the "brilliant" sawed-off sink idea.
4. Builder edits the selection item with a choice that includes a description and the price for the sink, rough-in, and faucet.
5. Client makes the choice on the selection item.
6. Husband's wife gets an email so she knows what her husband just chose to do. If she wants to kill it at that point, she could.
7. When he's ready, the builder eventually adds that selection to a change order on the Financials Summary page.
8. The client signs off (and even pays for it on the spot if you place it on a CoConstruct invoice with electronic payment options)
In the end, the entire progression of the conversation, pricing, and drawings is in one place on the selection sheet.

#2 - The Straight-to-the-change-order Way

1. Builder prices the mudroom and creates a formal change order with the description and drawings.
2. Client declines it because of the price.
3. Builder and client need to discuss other options, but since they can't add comments to change orders, they end up doing it on the Messages page.
4. But, there are some other messages intertwined, so the conversation gets a bit jumbled. It takes longer to reach a solution.
5. The builder eventually creates another change order for the sink and hopes that looks OK to the client.
6. Luckily, it does, and the client approves it.

In the end, you still got signoff, but the history of that process is now scattered between a declined change order, an approved change order, and some randomly interspersed entries on the Messages page.

See why we think it's cleaner to hash it all out in a selection first?

Now, it's up to you. And there are situations, like unforeseen conditions, where it makes sense to jump straight to a change order and use the "Extra Charge" line to put in the details.

"Surprise. Your subfloor is rotten! Either we replace it and finish redoing your bath or leave one heck of a mess behind."

Yeah, that one doesn't need much back-and-forth on a selection. Go ahead and just do a change order.

It's probably a mind shift for you to start every decision - change or not - on the specs and selections. But, give it a try. We think you'll find it's a big change for the better.