Glaziers Speak Out: Changes Order Challenges
If there is one thing that is constant in this industry it's change. Change
of any nature brings about special challenges. One area that is
particularly challenging for glaziers today involve addressing issues
that stem from conflicts between the structural and architectural
drawings that can ultimately result in a Request for Information
(RFI) and ultimately a change order. Change orders require additional,
time, resources and manpower and compensation above and beyond original
"In a perfect world, it would be great if it change orders
didn't exist," says Bernie Thueringer, president of Pacific
Glass in Renton, Wash. "There seems to be this misconception
that we (glaziers) are getting rich off change orders. The reality
is that it's tough to make a profit. In fact, it usually ends up
costing us money when it comes to facilitating change orders."
"A part of the problem in some cases is that in today's competitive
environment, we have a short window in the bidding process (usually
less than 30 days)," explains Thueringer. "The architect
usually wants any conflicting issues addressed during this time
so that an amendment can be sent out for clarification. Due to time
limitations in this process there isn't enough time to ask questions
so we all bid in the most efficient manner we can with the clarity
we have at the time. Conflicts are addressed later through the RFI
and subsequent change order process."
"Our focus is primarily public works projects," he continues.
"We aren't the ones who typically generate a change order but
are responsible to respond to any conflicts between the structural
and architectural drawings that create a change to our scope of
work. While it varies project to project, we have numerous contracts
where there aren't any change orders. Typically, projects with conflicting
plans and specifications are the ones that create change orders.
When the owner and architect think their documents have no conflicts,
they do not want to assume the additional change order costs and
the relationship between architect and contractor can become adversarial
and impact negotiations."
"The bottom line is change orders can create more headaches
and consume more project management time than they are worth,"
notes Thueringer. "We don't have a problem getting paid or
doing the additional work, it's typically not a money making proposition
Randy Diener, project manager with Heinaman Contracting in Orange
County, Calif., says the biggest problem involving change orders
is overhead and profit. "Most contracts are written ... to
cover miscellaneous costs such as delivery, freight, surcharges,
and some unplanned expenses, etc. However, when it comes to changes,
there are many hidden costs that add up and eat away at what's left
of that small profit margin and often exceeds that pre-set margin.
For example, a single change can involve time and manpower for interoffice
management costs for accounting, drawing, drafting, printing and
paperwork. Extra project management time is often required to go
through the plans, check the changes and find a solution for the
changes. There are additional costs for going back and forth in
the process to produce a final change order. If it is a state or
government job completing the paperwork alone can be a phenomenal
"Glazing contractors have to work to justify every penny for
all the added miscellaneous costs the general contractor already
thinks should already be included in the overhead," he continued.
"It's often a major hurdle when what is required exceeds the
cost allowances in the contract documents. We have to be diligent
in documenting all the time and costs involved to have a chance
at recouping the additional expenditures."
"The best course of action with change orders," points
out Diener, "is to be completely honest and thorough with your
documentation. It's a lengthy and time-consuming process to break
down and list all your costs involved with the change(s) but you
increase your chances of getting reimbursed by doing so. If you
work with a general contractor who has integrity and can show your
costs that went above and beyond what was called for in the original
contract documents, you should get paid for those additional costs."
Clear Vue Glass, Inc. specializes in high-end custom glass primarily
for residential interiors. "In our case, change orders are
relatively simple," says Leslie Mason, vp of the specialty
business that services the Research Triangle section of Durham,
NC. "However, when you get involved with a big general contractor
and have change orders, there's reams of paperwork and it's a pain
in the neck."
"Effective November 13, we implemented a policy that attaches
a $30 fee to any change or order cancellation," explains Dennis
Russell of Glass & Mirror Craft in Wixon, Mich. "It doesn't
matter who you are [customer, designer, or general contractor],
any type of change request requires a lot of time, manpower and
paperwork. Therefore, we felt we needed to implement some type of
compensation for the added work involved with changes."