The Real Cost of a Change Order Request

By: Cameron Page  |  March 19, 2021

The one constant with every construction project is change. And that inevitably means a Change Order Request sent from a Subcontractor to a General Contractor. There are typically costs associated with these documents, but what is not obvious are the hidden costs that go into generating and tracking these documents.

Let’s break down the cost of getting a COR approved in the traditional manner compared with the Clearstory process.

How Change Order Requests Usually Work

Meet Steve, a concrete subcontractor. Steve has been working two days, setting up forms to pour a beautiful curb at a new shopping center. He’s just finished his work when the architect arrives and realizes the drawings were wrong. (Unheard of, I know, but just go with us.) The elevation is two inches too low and won’t meet ADA requirements.

Steve has the concrete pour scheduled in two days AND cannot reschedule for another week! His company explains the situation to the General Contractor and the GC authorizes Steve and his team to rework all of the forms on a T&M basis because there is no time to wait for an estimate.

Steve’s team spends the rest of the day rebuilding the forms. At the end of the day, Steve whips out his stack of paper T&M Tags and fills one out by hand, making sure his description is thorough and his handwriting clear. He then documents the labor, material, and equipment used for the rework. (20 minutes) The next day the extra work is completed, just in time for the concrete pour the following morning. Steve fills out a new T&M Tag. (20 minutes) He then finds the GC, who reviews Steve’s hand-written T&M Tag and signs it. At the end of the day, Steve leaves work early and heads to the shop to drop off his T&M Tag. Of course, there is traffic. (40 minutes)

Now the T&M Tag becomes a Change Order Request

The next morning, the office admin grabs Steve’s T&M Tag from the stack. She heads straight to the scanner to scan all the tags into a PDF. She’s in luck and the scanner works! (15 minutes)

Once back at her desk, she saves each T&M Tag into a PDF file that can be later attached to the COR she is creating. She opens Steve’s first tag and begins to type in the description of what Steve wrote. Since there are two T&M Tags, she has to manually add up the hours before inputting them into their excel COR template. (15 minutes)

Once the COR form is complete, she prints it out and has the Project Manager review it for approval. He changes a few things so she goes back to her desk to revise the COR. (5 minutes)

One last review by the PM and now she is ready to create the PDF and attach the scanned T&M Tags to the COR. She drafts a quick email and sends it off to the General Contractor for review. (10 minutes)

At this point, we are at 80 minutes of Steve’s time and 40 minutes of his company’s administrative time.

And the General Contractor still has to review and request changes to the COR, which will add even more time.

Steve Could Have Saved Time and Money With Clearstory

Let’s go back to the moment Steve recognizes the ADA issue; only this time, he’s working with Clearstory.

He takes pictures of the forms that need to be replaced, clearly illustrating the required rework. His crew starts work that day and Steve takes one picture on his phone each hour to document the progress. He saves the T&M Tag as a draft in the Clearstory mobile app that night.

The next morning, Steve completes the work and opens Clearstory. Using voice to text, he dictates a quick description and recap of the work performed. He knows his description will be supplemented by the photos he’s taken, so he keeps it brief. He quickly adds the labor and material quantities using the classifications already stored in Clearstory. Then he instantly generates a preview of the completed PDF document and shows the General Contractor superintendent on his tablet or phone. The superintendent reviews the hours and photos, then signs the document on Steve’s iPad, adding a few notes to the “Customer Notes” section.

With the document complete, Steve presses “Submit” and all the stakeholders on the project between Steve’s company and the General Contractor automatically receive a PDF copy of the signed T&M Tag, including the photos, in their email and in their Clearstory accounts.

Back in the office, Steve’s Project Manager receives the Clearstory notification and can instantly review the T&M Tag. With the click of a button, the PM generates an associated Change Order Request, makes a few edits, attaches some additional backup documents, reviews a final preview, and then sends a PDF of the COR directly to the General Contractor. (15 minutes total)

CORs are Generated within moments of the T&M Tag being signed in the field

In total, the Clearstory process took 15 minutes, saving Steve's company 105 minutes,  tracking just that one change.

Multiplied by dozens of changes across hundreds of projects, Steve’s company is saving real money and valuable time with Clearstory.

How Much Time and Money Would Clearstory Really Save Me?

Want to see how it would work for you? Check out this calculator that compares your process with Clearstory. Fill in the amount of time you usually spend and see how much money you could be saving!

Remember, you can get started using Clearstory for FREE! What do you have to lose but the expense and headache of the way you’ve been doing it??

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.

Ready to see a Demo?

Contact us to schedule a 30 min call to see if Clearstory is right for you and your team.