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Pro-Tips and Industry Insights

6 Tips for Managing Change Orders On The Fly


"Ch@%ge Or%#rs!" Not a 4 letter word.

They're inevitable: change orders are going to happen. But what’s
not inevitable is the headache that follows. Set yourself up to save time and money, and boost your reputation as the builder who is easy to work with.

Here are six pro-tips from experts in the industry who have been managing change orders for decades.

1. Bad News Does Not Get Better With Time

Don't fear the change order. Deal with it.

We all know that clients hate change orders. In their minds, it's just increasing the flow of money out of their checkbook. But even though you don't relish the thought of upsetting your client, putting it off will only make things worse.

If your change order is the result of an unexpected condition, weather related costs, or something simply out of your control, don't avoid it. Document it thoroughly and present it to your client quickly.


2. Be Ready At Any Given Moment

So your client just changed the color of the bathroom tiles from beige to sand. Don’t make the mistake of mentally logging this away for later, no matter how confident you are in your ability to recall the details. Get it in writing immediately, while the conversation is still fresh!

If you’re keeping track of details for your job in anything that you can’t keep within arm’s length at any given time (so, basically, if it’s not your phone or tablet) you’re likely to see yourself increasingly outpaced by the competition in this digital age.

At any given moment, you should be ready to grab your phone out of your pocket and punch in new information immediately.




3. Get A Signature

By recording information while the client is still in front of you, you can avoid that sticky and potentially expensive situation when the client says “I said tan, not sand!” Don’t put yourself in a situation where it’s your word versus your client’s word. Get a signature before you let the conversation end.

This makes everything black and white, eliminating any gray area that could potentially harm your relationship with your client, or even damage your reputation.


4. Adjust On The Go

Now that the change order has been made, any number of details could need adjusting. Schedule, budget, delivery dates, installations, and on and on. If you’re keeping track of all of this in a notebook, you’re not doing yourself any favors. 

Project management software is designed to accelerate the momentum of your job site in a moment like this, rather than allow a change order monopolize your time.

Let the software do the adjusting for you. It locks in your change order, adjusts the budget and schedules automatically, and gives you the ability to notify everyone who will be affected by this change with the touch of a button.


5. Communicate Quickly

Your whole crew needs access to the most up-to-date info for your job, and you need to be able to confirm that they’ve seen and understood the change. Automated notifications and confirmations make sure you don’t get stuck on the phone all day, calling eight different people to tell them the same thing.

With the right software you can save yourself half a day of adjusting and calling around, and you can have confidence that the message has reached all the right people with simple automated confirmations from the recipient.



6. Make Sure You Have The Right Tools

Even seasoned builders can fall away from best practices because they're busy, and doing it right takes time. That's why having the right tools, to get the job done effortlessly, is vital.

With the right tools, always readily available and designed by builders who understand your everyday needs, you can save yourself from messy situations, from forgetting small but important details, and from spending your time relaying simple information to your team.

Once you've got these 6 steps in place, take a longer lunch or head home early, my friend, because you just saved yourself half a day’s worth of adjustments, phone calls and headaches.


Sven-Linkd-In.jpgAbout the Author:
Sven Gustafson
President, Stonewood, LLC - Custom Home Builder

As a 4th generation custom home builder with a software development background, Sven created BuildTools to help his company have a "connection point" for everyone in the building process.