What Are Change Orders, and How Can You Minimize Them During Your New Home Construction?

Building your dream home is an exciting journey, but that journey can feel defeating if you receive multiple change orders during the course of your new home construction. While change orders are inevitable during the construction process, they can be a source of frustration and significantly increase final costs if not managed properly. 

Luckily, you can minimize change orders during your new home construction by implementing the following tips, ensuring a smooth and stress-free home-building experience…but, first…

What Are Change Orders?

Change orders are common in the construction industry and refer to any modifications or alterations made to the original design-build plan or contract. They can include anything from small modifications to major alterations, and they generally alter one of three areas: the cost, the scope, or the schedule. 

These changes can happen for various reasons, including unforeseen circumstances, changes in the design or materials, or a change of mind from the homeowner. While change orders most often occur during the construction process, they can also happen as early as the initial architecture phase and as late as the interior design phase.

While change orders may seem like a nuisance, they can be necessary to avoid mistakes or to improve the overall design and functionality of the home. However, if not managed properly, change orders can lead to timeline delays, increased costs, and added stress for both the homeowner and the construction team. With proper precautions, however, they can be minimized and made stress-free. Now let’s get into just how to do that…

Select an Experienced Architectural Design Firm

One of the best ways to minimize change orders during your new home construction process is to work with an experienced and reputable architectural design firm. A skilled and experienced design-build firm will work closely with you to understand your vision, priorities, and budget from the outset and create a comprehensive plan that meets all of your needs. 

An experienced new home construction company will also have a deep and nuanced understanding of the entire home-building process and can anticipate any potential issues or challenges that may arise. This foresight can help prevent change orders, as the design and budget will be carefully planned with all possible scenarios in mind.

Since a full-service design-build firm works on every step of the custom home building process, from initial architectural plans to final touches, they’ll also be able to keep all details in-house. This makes the process more seamless, enhances communication, and reduces the chance of overlooked issues that will need to be altered via change order later down the line. Change orders often occur as the result of miscommunication or misunderstanding between two departments, but with one company performing every detail, this risk can be minimized.

Carefully Review the Budget

Another key aspect of minimizing change orders is to carefully inspect your budget, emphasis on carefully! A detailed and well-documented budget can help you avoid any unexpected costs or changes as the process gets underway. 

Before starting the new home construction process, make sure to review the budget in person with your design-build team. Schedule a meeting to discuss the budget in detail, and make sure you leave with a clear understanding of what is included and what may potentially require a change order.

When meeting with your team, ask them some of the following questions:

  • How familiar are they with your architectural plans? 
  • What assumptions did they make when creating the budget? 
  • Did they get multiple bids for major line items? 
  • Did they scrutinize each bid?
  • Did they provide you with multiple options?

Custom homes involve countless details, big and small, so assumptions will need to be made and sub-contractors will need to submit preliminary bids. All of these estimates create a budget that inevitably fluctuates from initial submission to final delivery, so it’s important to gain an intimate understanding of every line item and assumption made so you know the margin of error you’re potentially dealing with.

Make Selections On Time

One common, if not the most common, source of change orders during the new home construction process is when the homeowner is not able to make design selections on time. If you delay making critical selections, it can cause delays or force the builder to proceed with construction out of the planned order, which can lead to avoidable costs later down the line.

To avoid this, make sure to communicate with your design-build team and have a clear timeline for when selections need to be made. Generally, your architectural design firm will provide you with a list of needed selections and a schedule for when each decision needs to be made. Selections needed before construction often include:

  • Windows
  • Exterior doors
  • Roof
  • Appliances
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Interior beams
  • Fireplace details
  • Interior flooring

Research and decide on your choices early on in the process, and consult with your design team to ensure they align with the overall design and budget. This is a simple and effective way to minimize the risk of change orders during the construction phase.

Stick to Your Original Choices

One of the best, and easiest, ways to avoid change orders is to stick to your original design choices and project scope. While it can be tempting to make changes or additions during the process, the last-minute changes lead to, naturally, a change order. While it’s okay to request changes if you need to, make sure that you’re prepared for the delays and extra costs these changes will cause. 

To avoid this issue, try to tackle selections as early in the process as possible and do thorough research to be 100 percent sure you’re happy with your decisions. The more research you do early on, the less likely you’ll change your mind later in the process. 

It’s also always a good idea to communicate with your design-build team about your selections so they can advise you on expected costs, timelines, and alternatives that keep your wants and needs in mind while working with your budget.

If you’re searching for a truly luxury custom home design/build experience, C&C Partners is the premier choice. We offer unmatched and unwavering customer service, paired with exceptional craftsmanship that guarantees you’ll love your custom home for decades to come. 

During every stage of the custom home design/build process, your vision and budget are kept at the forefront, exemplifying the client-centric approach that has helped us become one of the premier luxury home builders in Southern California. We’ll work with you one-on-one, ensuring that you’re comfortable and confident throughout the design/build process and guaranteeing your dream home comes to life. 

If you want to experience the C&C Partners difference for yourself, contact us online or give us a call at 310-322-0803 today.