ABC Greater Houston Chapter - Build Houston Magazine, April/May 2022

14 April/May 2022 BY JUL IA EDWARDS THE CHANGE ORDER CONUNDRUM One the most litigated or disputed issues in construction is that of the change order. Almost every experienced contractor has dealt with either defending against or pursing change orders relating to additional work, time and costs. Owners asking for extra or changed work in the midst of a lump sum project is not an unusual occurrence. But, what happens when the owner thinks that the work is already within the scope of the project and won’t approve a change order to pay more? This article will discuss your options—and ramifications— when there is a disagreement between what is, and what is not included in your scope of work. KNOWING YOUR SCOPE. First things first, what is your scope of work? This may seem like an easy question, but it is a common area for disputes so it is important to be familiar with what was agreed to and—equally as important—to know what the other party believes was agreed to. Contract language is key. The contract is the first place the owner, or a judge, will look to determine whether something is included in your scope of work. The AIA A104, Section 7.3 defines “work” as “the construction and services required by the Contract Documents, whether completed or partially completed, and includes all other labor, materials, equipment, and services provided or to be provided by the Contractor to fulfill the Contractor’s obligations. The Work may constitute the whole or a part of the project.” So, what are the Contract Documents? At a minimum, these will include the drawings. If you can, get your bid or proposal enumerated as a Contract Document. But, if the bid or proposal you prepared does not make it into what is included as the “Contract Documents,” knowing what is included in the plans and drawings is especially vital. This seems obvious, right? After all, you have priced your work based on these documents. Bottom line: Know what work you agreed to, and make sure that scope is clear from looking at the contract. LEGAL