Home Improvement: The Cost of Change

Home Improvement: The Cost of Change


The cost of changes will vary depending on how much rework needs to be done and what types of delays are introduced into the project. Will different materials need to be ordered? How much completed work will need to be torn out? Moving a wall can be fairly easy if it does not contain wiring, plumbing or HVAC, has not been covered in sheetrock or is not load bearing.


The effort to remove what has already been completed can be more than the time needed to build it again. Changes at the later stages require calling back the subcontractors, like the electrician or plumber usually for more than one visit. One to take it out and then again to re-install. Some changes may even require a review by the area planning department, adding weeks to the delay.


The delays in schedule that result from having to order different materials can be costly as well, especially if other scheduled jobs for the contractor will be lost if delayed. You may run the risk of having to wait until these other jobs are completed before the contractor will come back to resume your project.


The planning phase is very important to minimize changes and should not be rushed unless you are very certain on what you want. Part of the planning can involve creating models to better visualize your end product. Laying out new room dimensions with tape on your garage or basement floor to see if your furniture will fit where you planned can also help visualize the space and is less expensive than a model.


Make sure you identify things like window and door locations. Is the space actually as large or small as you had envisioned? Are the electrical outlets and other utilities where you need them? Sometimes you need to just take some time to step back and have a fresh look at what has been designed to see if it really meets your needs. The contractor has this in mind when he appears to be moving slowly and you want to get started. You want to avoid as many surprises as possible to make the project flow smoothly.


Now, what about contractors getting rich on change orders? Usually this is not the case. They don’t have leverage with their subcontractors when they need them to come back to make changes to get the best price. Schedule impacts are probably the most costly to the contractor. They either have employees sitting around doing very little waiting for materials and the changes to be completed, or they are rescheduling other jobs and potentially losing jobs due to the delays.


Design changes throw a wrench into everyone’s plans. Experienced contractors are very good at efficiently scheduling their people and time to make their target profit margins. Rework and changes cut into those profits so, no, they are not getting rich on high-priced changes.


If anything, the changes cause tension between the contractor and homeowner, making the project more stressful. Most contractors will do what the customer wants, because the customer is always right (even when he or she is not). They will work to accommodate your changes as much as possible, but don’t place the blame on the contractor when the project gets extended by weeks or months and the budget is blown.


Using capable, quality contractors for your remodel and construction projects will greatly enhance your odds for minimal stress and a great end result. Home Services Link is your local resource to make finding good contractors easy. Give us a call with any questions at 513-271-1888 or send us an email at jim@homeserviceslink.com.