What is a Unilateral Change Order?

Change orders are adjustments, usually additions, to a project’s scope of work, which are enacted after the initial contract has been accepted and signed by all parties.

Usually, this is a bilateral arrangement, where both parties – contractor and client – must agree to change orders, and provide signatures to verify that.

But in some cases, you as the contractor may not actually have a choice as to whether or not you follow through with a change order proposal put forth by a client. If you’re obligated to comply, it’s considered a unilateral change order.

A unilateral change order is close to synonymous with a change order directive. For more details about managing these kinds of client change order requests, click through to our post on the topic.

When Are Change Orders Unilateral?

In most residential construction and remodeling projects, change orders tend to be unilateral. Change orders must be formally written up, agreed upon, and signed. A contractor has the ability to deny or reject a change order proposal from a client, and vice versa.

Sometimes, there simply may not be time to go through a full bilateral change order process if it’s an emergency. For example, if a water pipe bursts during construction (by no fault of the construction crew), that’s something that has to be fixed immediately. You can hash out the details of compensation later.

This would be a unilateral change order, carried out by the contractor. 

Unilateral change orders aren’t super common for most construction projects, but you do run into them occasionally in government contract work.

Will I Still Be Compensated for Unilateral Change Orders?

Generally speaking, yes. However, in some cases, you may need to file a claim if you and the client cannot reach an agreement on pricing for the changes. 

As with change orders in general, you should be sure to document everything you can if a unilateral change order becomes necessary. This provides evidence to back up your claims, if the owner disputes or rejects the extra pay for the changes.

Looking for a comprehensive change order management system? Trak Changes has you covered.

We built Trak Changes to make change order management – bilateral or unilateral – as easy, intuitive, and manageable as possible for construction companies. 

Check out our free trial to get started today!

Simple, transparent pricing

Just like our product, our pricing is straightforward.
One price. Pay monthly. Cancel anytime.

No long contracts, no nickel and diming.



Per Month

No credit card required

Related Posts

About Trak Changes

Never have a contract dispute again. Make changes to construction projects in seconds, allow clients to approve in real-time, and get back to work, knowing you have a digital paper trail

Let’s Socialize

Popular Posts