Top Ten Construction Clauses: Change Orders and Change Directives

Donald A. Rea and George E. Rahn, Jr.
Published June 1, 2015

Construction contracts typically provide for changes in the scope of work through change orders, construction change directives and orders for minor changes.  AIA Document A201-2007 and the ConsensusDocs Standard Agreement similarly define a “Change Order” as a written instrument or order signed by the owner and the contractor that reflects the parties’ agreement to a change and any adjustments in the contract price or time.  By contrast, a “Construction Change Directive” (AIA A201-2007) or “Interim Directed Change” (ConsensusDocs) is a written order unilaterally issued by the owner directing a change in the work before the parties have an agreement on any adjustment in the contract price or time.  Once an agreement is reached, a change order is submitted to document the adjustments.  In the absence of an executed Change Order or a Change Directive, the contractor is not obligated to perform changes in the work that impact contract price or contract time.  Time and again, however, the contractor proceeds with the work anyway.

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