When remodeling or building a custom home from scratch, there are many things that need to be considered and planned out. The fun part about either of these projects is that you are creating your own beautiful space that you will live in, and changing your mind about certain features or elements of your home — like the size of the bathroom or the kind of tile you want in the kitchen — is bound to happen. While no one likes dealing with contracts and paperwork, it is a necessary part of the overall process of creation. Most homeowners and contractors want to minimize the amount of paperwork as much as possible, but they are a necessary component when assembling your home. 

Few projects remain the same, so change orders, or the changes that homeowners make when constructing their home is expected by custom home builders. Keep reading to learn more about what happens in the process of changing your mind about a design or feature. For more information, or to start building your own custom home, contact the design-build team at Splittgerber.

Change Orders Are Normal (And Expected)

Change orders are bound to happen in any remodeling or custom home building project. They are a normal part of guiding a moderate to large home remodel or custom home build project from start to finish. With creative ventures as big as a house, there are bound to be edits, tweaks, and nudges that happen along the way that help the project closer resemble, or align completely with your dreams. When these changes happen, there is a certain process that you and your contractor will need to follow, and this means editing the original contract that you both created before the builder broke ground. 

Initiating Change Orders

When change orders happen, it is usually always possible to strike out the language in the original contract if one or two data points need to be changed. If there are so many data points associated with the change order, however, it may be easier and more clear to draw up a separate form. If this is the case, your builder will be in close communication with you. But, because change borders are nearly inevitable, contracts usually accommodate these changes. 

While it might seem superfluous to take such large steps to make a change, no matter how small, change orders legitimize desired changes and keep everybody on the same page. Change orders create a chronological paper trail for the changes to your home project. Plus, they can be of legal importance if either party brings on a lawsuit. 

The Process

The most effective change order processes follow a general pattern that creates a paper trail and provides reliable cost information cost upfront. It will likely look like this:

  • Centralization – Change order requests are managed by one person to help ensure effective communication between everyone involved. This helps prevent misunderstanding and disrupted schedules.
  • Documentation – Client requests are transferred to an electronic or paper-based change order form that initiates a paper trail and helps ensure greater accuracy and clearer communication.
  • Terms – Many contractors anticipate the types of changes that clients may make, and have a good idea of the cost time most changes require. As a result, they are able to communicate the terms quicker so that homeowners have time to make an informed decision, whether they decide to move forward or decide against it.
  • Confirmation – If the homeowners decide to move forward with the change order, then the next step is their signature, or else the work will not start. Clients must approve the cost and terms, as well as the style, finish, or other details about the change. This ensures the client is made aware of how the change may affect their move-in date and any other aspects of the construction schedule and cost.
  • Inspection – The client may be asked to visit the new home’s job site when the change is being made to ensure that they are satisfied and don’t have any further questions.
  • Payment – Costs for change orders may be billed separately, usually as soon as the change has been made and the work is completed to the client’s satisfaction. The contractor may just ask for a percentage of the cost or the full payment upfront before making the change, depending on the type of request.

Who Can Create Change Orders?

Both parties —the homeowners and the contractors —can request change orders. Most change orders are a result of errors and omissions in the contracted work, work that happens as a result of unknown and unpredictable conditions, or any additional work that the homeowner has requested. It is important to note that while either party can initiate a change order, both parties have to sign off on the change before the work can continue. 

Change Orders Must Be Highly Detailed and Specific

Change orders should be as specific and highly detailed as possible. They should contain the date of the original contract, the date of the change order, the original cost, the cost of the change, and most importantly, the type of change, what will be done with the change, and how much it will cost. Change orders may come in different formats, depending on the situation and your builder, as contractors likely have a template of their own.

Change orders, no matter where they are coming from, will usually include the following:

  • Name of the project
  • Homeowners name and contact information
  • Address of the project
  • Narrative describing the change or the new work
  • Price of both materials and labor
  • New expected date of completion
  • Signatures of the contractor and the homeowner

Things to Keep in Mind

Remodeling a home or building a custom home from the ground up is no small feat! We’ve said it once and we will keep saying it. Things are bound to change, and that is okay. If you should decide to make a change during the construction process, it is imperative that you understand that change orders almost always cost more money, especially if they are later in the building process. This is important if you have taken out a construction loan for your custom home build, or are paying out of pocket. A serious financial checkup should be done before signing a change order so you know exactly what is going on. 

It is also important to remember that change orders may push back the date of your move-in. If this is the case, make sure that you have planned accordingly so you aren’t scrambling for a place to live before you can move into your dream home!

Call Splittgerber Professional Builders for Your Custom Home Build

We hope that you found this information helpful, hopefully demystifying some of the questions you had about the homebuilding process! The design-build team at Splittgerber is highly skilled in all aspects of custom home building, not to mention, we act with transparency, integrity, and care. If you ever have any questions about working with our custom home builders in Fort Collins, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We would love to meet with you and discuss your ideas for your dream home, and consider it a privilege to help you build your sanctuary. Contact us today.