Construction Change Order Request Log 101

By: Cameron Page  |  March 3, 2020

What is a Change Order Request log?

A Change Order Request log is simply a running list of all Change Order Requests sent from a contractor to their customer. (Subcontractor to General Contractor, GC to Owner, etc.). 

Across the industry, Subcontractors email their General Contractor with Change Order Requests as they come up. Those CORs are gathered and tallied by scraping through a General Contractor’s’ busy inbox. The GC collects these documents, saves them and  inputs them manually into Excel or a project management software system (ie. CMiC, Procore, Prolog, etc.).

The Change Order Request log is the only tracking document shared between the Subcontractor and General Contractor. It’s also the  only way General Contractors can be certain they have accounted for every single cost submitted by their Subcontractors.

Staying atop this tedious, manual tracking process is key to being a successful General Contractor. But with all the moving parts on a construction project, it is easy for General Contractors to fall behind on tracking every Subcontractor’s multiple change orders.  

Why it’s such an important document

In our previous content, we mentioned that the Change Order Log is the most important document in the Construction Industry. In summary, Change Order Request Logs do the following: 

  • Documents all changes - The Change Order Request Log provides both parties a comprehensive collection of all changes that have been submitted to date on a project. This document allows the GC to confirm they have not missed any CORs that were emailed to them and ensures they have accounted for every cost in their record-keeping system. 
  • Tracks all cost exposure - The COR log is the only document shared between a Subcontractor and a General Contractor that shows a complete summary of approved, in review and rejected CORs. Without this document, both parties play a guessing game hoping the other is on the same page financially.
  • Keeps the project on schedule- If a COR is approved to proceed but the Subcontractor isn’t aware of the approval, this will be reflected on the COR log. By reviewing this document, the GC can see what work the Subcontractor understands is approved vs on hold.

Without this document being clear and up-to-date, all parties are at risk of project costs being misunderstood, overlooked or recognized too late. When this happens, projects run over budget, customers get unhappy, relationships are broken and even lawsuits can happen.

Who Utilizes Change Order Request Logs

Within a construction project, there are Owners, Subcontractors and General Contractors.  Each one of these companies holds a contract directly with the other. The Change Order Request log is a running list of changes to each of those contracts. As a result, the COR log is typically only shared between parties who have a contract in place with each other.

Every time a Subcontractor submits a Change Order Request, they should simultaneously update their COR log and send it with the COR to the GC. This protects the Subcontractor by ensuring their GC is actually reviewing all their outstanding costs. It also helps the GC keep track of their own cost exposure.

These things must be on your Change Order Request log

A Change Order Request Log is essentially a spreadsheet with all of the Change Order Request information logged in one place. Beyond that, each entry requires details to make the data meaningful. For a Change Order Request Log to be thorough and useful,  each line item should be accompanied by the following: 

  • Change Order Number - This might seem obvious but it is extremely important that CORs are numbered starting 1-10. Many Subcontractors use their own internal numbering system, but keep in mind these numbers mean nothing to the General Contractor. The point of numbering CORs in a sequential order is so that your customer can easily and uniquely identify them in case they have missed something.
  • Date Submitted - Documenting the date the COR was submitted is crucial for all parties. Typically, there are contractual requirements for the allowed amount of time to submit a COR after a change occurred, so documenting the date sent is critical. In addition, it is important for Subcontractors to track the days aging on their CORs so they can protect themselves against strung-out approval times.
  • Time  & Material Tag Number - If the work was generated via a T&M Tag, it is important to note which Tag numbers are associated with the COR. This way both parties can easily reference the signed for work.
  • Customer Reference Number - A GC will often require a Sub to track their CORs with a PCI, PCO, CE, etc. number. Documenting this on the log gives the GC a quick reference as to what each COR is related to.
  • COR Title - On the log it is critical to have an abbreviated title of the description of the COR. This way without having to open the COR file the GC can scan and see what the work is related to
  • Requested Amount - It is crucial to show the initial requested amount of a COR. In case the COR gets negotiated or revised, the Subcontractorhas a clear view of where the requested value started. 
  • Approved Amount - This is the final amount approved with a CO issued from the GC against the Change Order Request. This amount reflects the value that has been added to the contract and is now allowed to be billed.
  • Days In Review - This is a simple bit of math that shows the difference between the date a COR was requested and  the date it was approved (or the current date). This visibility is critical to prevent CORs from aging too long.
  • COR Status - The industry standard should be clearly documented on the log:
  • In Review -  Because there are many different stages under review, it is good practice to have an additional column identifying what stage the COR is in.
        • Pricing - The COR is forthcoming
        • On Hold - If a COR is pending
        • Revise and Resubmit - If something needs to be adjusted in the COR.
        • Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) - This is a quick estimated cost before a formal COR is sent.
        • Owner Review - If the GC has already reviewed but now the owner is reviewing.
        • Potential Change Order - Something being tracked that  might have a cost impact at a later date. This is an efficient way for a Subcontractor to help protect their GC’s project risk by identifying potential costs early.
    • Rejected/Void - If it is agreed that a COR is not approved.
    • Approved to proceed - This is if a verbal or written approval is given but no CO has been formally issued yet. This allows the Subcontractor to keep tabs on what they are proceeding on at risk without being able to yet bill for the work.
      • Approved CO issued - When a CO is actually issued from the GC formally updating the contract value.
  • Approved Date - This is the date the COR was verbally approved or given authorization in writing. This is not the same day that a CO will be issued. It is critical for Subcontractors to keep track of both dates on their log.
  • Customer CO Number - A GC will issue a signed Change Order, which formally updates the contract value, allowing  the Subcontractor to bill for the approved amount. The GC will issue this CO and track it with a given number. The CO might contain multiple Sub CORs,  so it is important to track which CORs are related to which CO number.
  • Header Information - It is important to keep basic information at the top of the log.
    • Project Name
    • Customer Name
    • Subcontractor’s Job Number
    • Customer Job Number
    • Jobsite address
    • Subcontractor company name and information

These logs are almost universally created in Excel or exported from a subcontractor’s project financial system. They are then PDFed and emailed to the General Contractor. This may seem like it covers all the bases, but there are some big downsides to sending a PDF COR log.

The downsides of a PDF Change Order Request log

Until now, the concept of a shared, cloud-based COR log that automatically updates didn’t exist. A cloud-based COR log eliminates all the pitfalls of a static PDF log. Among those pitfalls: 

    • Manual labor - Having to manually update a COR log after each COR is sent or an update is made is very time consuming. Sure logging it in Excel may be quick, but you have to eventually send an update to your GC, which means the only way to keep them updated in real time is creating a PDF and emailing them the COR log over and over again.
    • Missing documents - The COR log keeps the GC informed of all outstanding costs, but as a Subcontractor how do you know that they have the latest and correct COR documents saved somewhere? For a GC to save the COR documents, they must go back to each email where the CORs were sent and download them to a file folder. 
    • Latest Version - When static PDF logs are sent, even if it is two days old, how does the GC know it’s the latest version? The truth is, they can’t be certain. So to be safe, the GC constantly asks for an update to ensure they have documented all cost exposures. 
    • Cumbersome communication - With a PDF COR log, where can the GC leave comments? Some GCs might mark up the PDF in blue beam or Adobe and bounce the comments back to their Subcontractor. But this process again introduces manual efforts that waste project efficiency. 

At Clearstory, we believe this painful process introduces unnecessary risk and strips construction teams of their productivity. Our first-of-its-kind digital Change Order Request log is designed to help bring project partners together, increase efficiency and reduce risk across the board.  

Why a digital Change Order Request log is so important

By sending or creating CORs through Clearstory, you can automatically maintain a clean and organized COR log that can be easily shared between parties. Subcontractors can upload their CORs created from their own process or use Clearstory's  powerful features to create digital T&M Tags and COR cover sheets that flow directly into our COR log. The Subcontractor can invite their GC to the shared log or simply send them a link where they can view all project CORs. The best part: When a COR is added or a change is made, the Clearstory log automatically updates on the GC’s end so both parties are on the same page in real time. 

In addition, the log acts as file storage with a link to each COR’s backup documentation so GCs can access all CORs at any time.  No more hunting down documentation hiding in an inbox.

Why industry-leading Subcontractors and General Contractors use Clearstory

Clearstory's digital COR log can be used by contractors independently by simply sending the customer a link to the Clearstory digital log or in collaboration with both the contractor and customer. Here’s what Clearstory can do for your company:

    • Boost productivity - Eliminate the tedious administrative work of manually updating a COR log, making a PDFand sending it to your customer. 
    • Eliminate time-wasting back and forth - Stop bouncing a PDF COR log back and forth. Once the link is shared or both parties are using Clearstory, everyone is on the same page at all times.
    • Reduce Risk - Eliminate the uncertainty that comes with not knowing where you stand on Change Orders. 
    • Improve customer relations - No one likes sloppy, unorganized documentation. Present your costs clearly with Clearstory's digital COR log and standard T&M and COR forms. Make it as easy as possible for your customer to review and approve your Change Order Requests.
  • To learn more and see our software in action, connect with one of our team members by requesting a live demo.

Cameron Page
Cameron Page

Cameron leads Clearstory as the founder and CEO. After 10 years as a Project Manager at Devcon, a leading design-build GC, he knew there should be a better way to track and communicate on Change Orders. He started Clearstory with a mission to help the entire construction industry get extra work processed and closed faster in order to reduce risk, waste less time, and strengthen relationships.

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