5 Ways to Avoid Change Orders

Change Orders can be costly, here are 5 ways to avoid them. Let me first start by addressing change orders from our company’s perspective. There are times that one or even more are completely necessary. We are not always privy to what has happened in previous remodels, sometimes what was even permitted should not have been approved by the inspector. Just a couple of examples: Electrical boxes that were never terminated and shoved into walls. Surprise, we find them all the time. While our electricians can take care of those, they sometimes result in additional costs. The ever evolving pluming, there have been a few times when it looks like plumbing was updated, we find an old permit for it, it was ‘approved and finale’ by an inspector, yet when we get into the wall or concrete floor, there it is….old cast iron supply lines never done, just the connections that we can see.

So how do you control that? Well, those are rare cases, so don’t despair. The bottom line is as a consumer YOU ultimately have the final say in what happens in your home. So being diligent in some upfront processes from the company you will work with will help.

1. Do your research.
Some contractors have earned a horrible reputation for underbidding jobs, and when they figure out they are losing money their first response is to start using change orders.
Make sure that when you choose a contractor everything is specified out in the contract. I mean everything: when they will start, finish, what areas of your home will be affected, specific materials that were selected and where they will be installed, and detailed drawings (if needed). The reality is, if a contract is this detailed, the change orders should be minimal.

2. Budget.
Make one and try to stick to it and hold a little back for contingencies. Our company asks you what your budget is for your project before we even go to your house to check out your project. Not so we can spend every cent, but so that we know what parameters we are working with. We consider ourselves experts of our field and having as much information up front, but especially a budget, helps us help you! If your budget seems low, we feel like it is our job to set an expectation of what it will really cost. Knowing your budget up-front also helps us find compromises, if you are willing to accept them, or choose to wait until you save up a bit more.

3. Plan for necessary upgrades.
If you are doing an addition, has your contractor made sure your electrical panel will handle the additional needs? How about your furnace and/or air conditioner? Will there be any additional plumbing requirements? Are there any additional changes that you may be required to upgrade to comply with the county and state codes?
These are all items your contract should address. If you do not see them, ASK. Even for the smallest remodel jobs. If your contractor states it will be addressed, have them add it into the contract before you sign it.

4. “Hey, while you are here….”
This is the most expensive phrase you will use during your remodel project. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it makes sense to add some things. For example, say you are remodeling the kitchen and you want the faucets replaced in the bathrooms so they all match. We totally get that! Our advice is to try and plan ahead for these and get them in the original contract scope. Last minute changes and additions can become expensive. Here is why:
When our company schedules our trade contractors, they already have a list of what will be done at your home, they have allotted their time accordingly and brought the necessary materials for their visit. When you change that last minute, they must make additional trips and that can add up quick.

5. Stick to the plan.
Last minute changes not only add up because of what we talked about above, but sometimes last-minute changes are made without thought to the original budget. Our company works hard to stay on budget for you, so coming in midstream with a new project or changing your mind last minute adds costs and moves your finish date out.