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Construction change? What changes! the owner is driving us to a dispute!! Part 2 of 6

In relation to owners and construction change, our experience of construction disputes on projects has taught us that some owners don’t play by the rules. Or at least, they like to bend the rules to suit them.

Here, I take a look at the tactics owners use that can force a contract into a construction dispute, resulting in the contractor incurring substantial additional costs, whilst souring the relationship between contractor and owner.

I consider there to be five telltale signs that a project owner is not playing it by the book and thereby putting your project at risk.

Number 2: implementing construction change “by stealth”

We have dealt with numerous cases in which additional or revised drawings or documents are added to a contract at the signing stage, and commercial pressure is used to push a contractor into agreeing to it, even though they should be dealt with as a construction change or variation. Contractors typically wishing to secure the work and not upset the owner in the initial stages of the project, accept the changes put forward by the owner, only to hit trouble at a later date.

We also regularly see project owners doing the following: issuing revised drawings during the contract that include construction change and trying to slip them in under the radar; or responding to requests for information (RFIs) by requesting construction change or enhancements that vary the contract, where the owner should issue a variation or change order. Owners then apply commercial pressure for the Contactor to accept these revisions or delay agreement until the end of the project.

All of this is to the disadvantage to the Contractor.

All of these actions have the potential to cause delay and disruption to the critical design and engineering phase, resulting in substantial additional cost being incurred.

In the final part in this series of blogs, I’ll explain what you can do if this does occur.

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