- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 14 Aug 2018
Change order for construction contracts
In project management, a change order (or variation order) is a component of the change management process in which changes in the scope of work (or project brief) agreed to by the client, contractor and architect are implemented.
A change order is work that is added to or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract, which alters the original contract amount and/or completion date. A change order may force a new project to handle significant changes to the current project.
Change orders are common to most projects, and very common on large projects. After the original scope (or contract) is formed, complete with the total price to be paid and the specific work to be completed, a client may decide that the original plans do not best represent their definition for the finished project. Accordingly, the client will suggest an alternate approach.
Common causes for change orders to be created are:
- The project's work was incorrectly estimated.
- The client or project team discover obstacles or possible efficiencies that require them to deviate from the original plan.
- The client or project team are inefficient or incapable of completing their required deliverables within budget, and additional money, time, or resources must be added to the project
- During the course of the project, additional features or options are perceived and requested.
- The contractor looks for work items to add to the original scope of work at a later time in order to achieve the lowest possible base bid price, but then add work items and fee back on once they have been appointed. This is an exploitative practice.
A project manager then typically generates a change order that describes the new work to be done (or not done in some cases), and the price to be paid for this new work. Once this change order is submitted and approved it generally serves to alter the original contract such that the change order now becomes part of the contract.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
There are many ways of classifying types of building. Have a look at our range of building articles.
BSRIA have launched the 'major update' of the go-to design framework guide for building services.
How to get results with building life cycle assessment.
Government publishes a prospectus inviting proposals for new 'garden communities'.
The Morandi motorway bridge in Genoa collapses during rainstorm while undergoing maintenance works.
'Developed design' is a phrase coined by the RIBA for their 2013 Plan of Work. But what does it actually mean?
New green paper published aiming to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents and tackle stigma.
RIBA calls for a comprehensive ban on combustible materials.
Lump sum contracts can be referred to as ‘fixed price’ contracts, although strictly this is not correct. Find out more here.
Ramboll offer guidance to civil engineers on how to make projects 'off-site ready'.
Government announces its Rough Sleeping Strategy, with further funding for social housing.