Avoiding Disputes in Construction: How to Create a Paper Trail

Construction projects rely on communication. Two parties need to come to an agreement on a contract and the scope of work.

Avoiding disputes in construction is important, and if not handled properly, change orders can open up all kinds of potential for disagreements and miscommunication.

Change order disputes can end you in court and be costly to your business. Conflicts are just as unpredictable as change orders. However, disputes are easier to avoid.

One of the most critical components for avoiding change order disputes is clear communication.

It is also essential to set expectations early on and be upfront about the changes. The two parties can then work together to develop a solution that satisfies both parties and allows them to move forward with the project.

Here are a few ways to maintain a solid paper trail to avoid disputes in your construction business.

Never Use Verbal Agreements

When a project is in the early stages, it’s easy to make verbal agreements. Sometimes you run into a minor change that seems easy to do without creating a formal written change order.

However, when the project becomes more complex, and there are many stakeholders involved, things might not go as planned. It is essential to have clear and documented agreements between the client and the contractor to avoid disputes about changes.

Also, change orders, even for small changes, could intersect with other variables in the process and become a more significant issue than expected.

There are many reasons why a change order dispute can happen. For example, the client might not know what they agree to when they verbally agree to a change. Or, the project team might not be clear on what needs to be done for the changes to happen.

One way to avoid disputes in construction surrounding change orders, is by ensuring that any changes are appropriately documented and in writing. This will help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page throughout the process.

Not only can agreements only be used to resolve a dispute, but if it makes it to court, you have more legitimacy with documentation and proof. Verbal agreements won’t protect you from legal implications, so get all changes in writing. 

All changes in writing help provide a paper trail of evidence.

Keep All Communication in Email

Of course, it might not be possible all the time, but try to keep communication in email as much as possible. 

In the past, change orders were often communicated in person or via phone. This led to misunderstandings and disputes. You will most likely talk in person and via telephone part of the time, but move the conversation to email when discussing changes as a form of paper trail.

Emails provide a clear record of the conversation and any agreements between the parties. Emails also reduce the number of misunderstandings when dealing with verbal orders.

There’s no better way to keep communication clear and consistent with email. If there’s confusion, you can cross-reference an email. Keeping most contact via email will reduce the number of disagreements and disputes.

Always Review Your Change Orders

Lots of detail is required for change orders, and the process is communication between two parties regarding the negotiation. Hence, you need to be diligent when submitting a request for changes. Depending on the increased cost, or potential roadblocks to the project, a client might be frustrated and refuse the request.

It’s best to double-check a request before it’s submitted to verify valuations and details. If you can justify changes, there’s less likely a chance of a dispute or disagreement.

Never submit a change order request without a second pair of eyes. If you have another contractor or project manager, have them review the change order request before it’s submitted to the client.

One of the most common ways construction disputes arise is through change order disputes. These disputes can be avoided by having a second individual review the order before it’s submitted to the customer. This way, any discrepancies can be resolved before they become an issue.

This process is also beneficial because it helps ensure that the change order is accurate and free of errors. The second set of eyes will also be able to spot any potential issues with the order and make recommendations for improvement or changes.

A change order is a form of communication about a project. It’s communication and negotiation between two parties to have an agreement. If you go through a change order process and ensure they have enough information, they can serve as a Papertrail to avoid potential disputes.

Use Software to Simplify Process

Many contractors are leaning on software to keep control of change orders and reduce disputes. It creates a seamless system for processing change orders, giving you a digital paper trail for tracking changes and their associated costs.

A digital paper trail, via software, is more organized, easily accessible, and secure than dealing with file cabinets full of physical paper.

Software for change orders helps to simplify the process of change orders. It can save money and time by automating the process of change order management.

The software can be used by construction companies, contractors, and architects. It can help manage their projects more efficiently and reduce the risk of errors in the process

With Trak Changes, you can manage the documentation process and approvals, as well as provide clear and professional communication with your clients. Using software helps contractors stay organized and manage their change orders properly. The organization helps reduce errors and, therefore, minimize disputes.

Trak Changes was designed to be used by contractors looking for a way to make their work more efficient. It is easier than ever to track the changes that have been made in the work order and also see what has not been done yet.

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