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Two Simple Steps that Minimize Change Orders and Prevent Budgeting and Billing Frustrations

You just signed the contract. The PO is in place. You’re excited about your new interior construction project. In your mind’s eye, you can picture employees enjoying their new workspace. You can almost feel their excitement and pride.

Then, over the next few months, that excitement begins to fade. It’s replaced with frustration as you receive change order after change order from the contractor. The project’s budget balloons and schedule slips—a lot.

This can be frustrating for companies and can tarnish a project. In addition to increasing the project’s cost, it can also take a lot of your time and energy.

While some contractors are “skilled” at producing change orders, we have found a better approach. We put our effort into minimizing change orders and making the project budget as realistic as possible in the beginning.

How is this possible in an industry where change orders seem to be part of a construction firm’s business model? It comes down to two simple things: Proactive Planning and Constant Communication.

Proactive Planning:
It’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before we begin a project, we do a deep dive on planning. During this phase of the project, our clients get a clear picture of the outcome, schedule, and costs associated with their construction project. We also anticipate potential issues and include them in our proposal. We don’t like surprises any more than our clients do!

To make their initial bid more competitive, some firms might not budget for these issues. To us, this seems short-sighted. Customers end up paying for “surprises” whether they’re included in a bid or not. The long-term relationships we enjoy with our customers are based on the trust they have in us. Trust that is earned by anticipating issues and giving a realistic and accurate estimate in the beginning.

Constant Communication:
Once underway, we have regular reviews with our clients. We provide updates on, and answer questions about their project. When and if an unexpected issue arises, this is a great opportunity to talk about it. It gives customers the opportunity to approve work to address an issue (or not) before it begins.

Discussions and decisions are kept in meeting minutes, so clients have a full history of their project that can be a useful reference during the billing process.

Unexpected issues can be frustrating. What’s more frustrating is a change order issued after the issue has been addressed. This removes the customer from the decision-making process and quickly erodes trust between the client and contractor.

Every project will have a couple of surprises. A few unexpected twists. Proactive planning helps to anticipate potential issues and keep these to a minimum. The original budget is also more realistic. Constant communication ensures clients keep current with their projects every step of the way. The level of transparency provided fosters trust. So, if an issue does arise, both the contractor and client are in a better position to address it together.

These two simple steps can greatly reduce frustration and allow you to enjoy your new workspace the way you had envisioned.

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