The love-hate relationship contractors have with change order forms is one of the most common phone topics we have here at ACT Contractors Forms. Some contractors consider change orders to be crucial to managing their jobs while others say change order forms are nothing but a bother and are unnecessary. What is amazing is some of the excuses we hear from contractors giving reasons for not using change orders.
How about one contractor who called to order lien forms and explained they needed mechanics lien paperwork to file a lien on a customer who refused to pay for some hidden damage ($5800 worth) found during their work.
ACT..."Did you have a clause in your contract to cover changes made necessary when damage is discovered.... I mean, damage that had been concealed during the standard visual inspection you made to create your estimate and scope of work for the job?"
Contractor..."Of Course, I'm not an idiot! I have done hundreds of these jobs and know there are always situations like this so my contracts cover my a**!"
ACT..."That's great! Did you get them to sign a change order form agreeing with the extra cost before you did the work?"
Contractor... silence..... "I don't need a change order, this is standard stuff. Everybody knows that any bid is based on what I can see at the time. Anything else is an extra! This is just common sense. I want my money."
ACT... silence.... "I'll get those lien forms to you right away, but sir, you might want to order some change order forms for future use to keep problems and disagreements like this from happening in the first place... just be sure the contract you use allows for changes and that you get the change order signed BEFORE you do any extra work. You know, it is pretty hard for your customer to argue about extra costs when they have already agreed to them in a written change order form."
Contractor... silence... "Just get those lien papers to me, I am just a small contractor and most of my work comes from referrals and I never have problems like this."
ACT... "Except for this time! Use a change order next time Sir and your customers will thank you for making them aware of extra costs instead of thinking you are trying to get over on them by hiking the costs for no reason. I'll get those lien forms right out to you..."
Moral of this story.. The time necessary to fill out and get a change order signed will save you...
- A lot more time you will spend arguing with your customer.
- A lot more time dealing with fallout and lost sales over the customer "badmouthing" your company.
- A lot more time spent at the county recorder and courts and lawers, and...
Even "small" contractors working from referrals, need to consider some documents as their friend rather than a bother.
YOUR bank acount, rather than YOUR LAWER'S bank account, will thank you!