How Do You Avoid Change Orders on a New Custom Home Build


A Guide to Staying On Budget and Avoiding Change Orders on New Construction

Building a custom luxury home is a dream come true for many individuals and families. The opportunity to design a living space that perfectly suits your lifestyle and preferences is undoubtedly exciting. However, amid the excitement, there’s a lurking concern that can turn this dream into a financial nightmare: change orders. In this article, we will delve into the costly expenses of change orders during a new custom home build and explore strategies to avoid them, ensuring your project stays on budget.

The Costly Expense of Change Orders:

Change orders, as the name suggests, are alterations or modifications to the original construction plan that occur after the project has commenced. While some changes may be unavoidable due to unforeseen circumstances or evolving preferences, they can be a significant financial burden. Here are some reasons why change orders can become costly:

Increased Construction Time:
Change orders often require additional time for planning, approvals, and implementation. Delays in the construction schedule can result in increased labor costs and extended rental expenses, both of which contribute to the overall project cost.

Additional Materials and Labor:
Any alterations to the design or specifications of your custom home may necessitate the purchase of new materials or hiring extra labor. These unexpected expenses can quickly add up and strain your budget.

Design and Engineering Fees:
When changes are made to the original plans, architects, engineers, or designers may be needed to revise drawings and ensure structural integrity. Their services are expensive, which can inflate the overall project expenses.

Impact on Existing Work:
Change orders can disrupt the workflow on the construction site. Existing work may need to be dismantled or modified to accommodate the new changes, incurring additional expenses.

Potential Legal Issues:
Sometimes, disputes can arise between homeowners and contractors regarding the scope and cost of change orders. Legal battles can be both financially and emotionally draining.

Strategies to Avoid Change Orders:

Now that we understand the financial implications of change orders, let’s explore effective strategies for avoiding them and keeping your custom home built on budget.

  • Comprehensive Planning:
    Thorough planning and design before construction begins are key to avoiding change orders. Work closely with your architect and builder to create a detailed and well-thought-out plan that encompasses your vision and requirements. Address potential design changes and decisions early in the process to minimize surprises later.
  • Set Clear Expectations:
    Clearly communicate your expectations and preferences to your builder and design team from the outset. Make sure everyone involved understands your goals and priorities, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and change orders.
  • Choose Experienced Professionals:
    Selecting experienced and reputable architects, designers, and builders is crucial. Their expertise can help foresee potential issues and minimize the need for change orders. Check references and review their past projects to gauge their competence.
  • Regular Site Visits:
    Stay involved in the construction process by visiting the site regularly. This allows you to monitor progress and address any concerns promptly. Early detection of issues can prevent them from escalating into costly change orders.
  • Contingency Budget:
    Allocate a portion of your budget as a contingency fund specifically for unforeseen changes or emergencies. While it may not eliminate change orders, it can help absorb some of the additional costs without derailing your project.
  • Prioritize Decisions:
    Make design decisions before construction begins. Changing your mind about finishes, fixtures, or layouts during construction is one of the primary reasons for change orders. Avoid such situations by finalizing your choices early.
  • Review Contracts Carefully:
    Ensure your construction contract includes a detailed scope of work, specifications, and a clear change order procedure. Discuss with your attorney to understand your rights and responsibilities in case changes are needed.
  • Monitor Budget and Timeline:
    Track your project’s budget and timeline regularly. Address any deviations promptly to prevent small issues from escalating into major change orders.


Building a luxury custom home is a significant investment, and avoiding change orders is essential to keeping the project on budget. By following the strategies outlined in this article, you can minimize the costly expenses associated with change orders and ensure that your dream home becomes a reality without breaking the bank. Remember, careful planning, clear communication, and working with experienced professionals are the keys to a successful and budget-friendly custom home build. For more information on a luxury custom home build, please contact us here at Bartlett Construction Management, we’re glad to discuss your next project!

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