Keep your GC happy or pay the price!
You’ve found your perfect General Contractor. You’ve signed all the paperwork, crossed all your T’s, dotted all of your I’s. You’ve broken ground, things are going well. Framers have come out and you realize that you could have more space in your master closet if you just shorten this wall and extend this one. Maybe you’ve decided you want more lights in your hallways. Being on top of things you pat yourself on the back for noticing before the drywall goes up, or before much has been done. You tell your contractor, and they mention a “Change Order” which holds additional costs. Why on earth are you being charged a fee for something so simple? Are you being punished for being “difficult”.
The Term “Change Order” isn’t something someone outside of the construction industry is usually familiar with. To homeowners, it feels like your contractors aren’t being flexible or they’re punishing you for changing up a few little things. The truth is, they’re not. Plans, whether it be floor plans, electrical, or water are made so that each crew member has directions on where to go and what specifically needs to be done. Supplies are ordered, and materials are purchased. Even the slightest change can throw the process completely off-kilter. The fees you’re seeing are for materials and labor. There is no additional fee just for changing your mind. It’s easy to look around and see a surplus of materials laying around and think they could easily spare a few extra boards or outlets. But each item is accounted for. Good contractors especially now at the height of shortages, plan ahead for any materials that arrive damaged or unusable. So any surplus you might have seen likely has a predetermined use.
Most GC’s don’t mind changes as long as they’re brought up early enough to add them in with minor inconveniences. Homeowners should keep in mind that changes do cause projects to be drawn out a little longer than anticipated. And as long as they’re okay with that, generally, GC’s are as well.
So yes, are change orders expensive and even annoying? Absolutely. But they’re not there to punish you! Change orders are legitimate and do not reflect any personal vendettas!