Top 5 Specialty Contractor Change Order Pain Points

By: Cameron Page  |  February 7, 2024

On today’s modern, fast-paced, and complex construction projects, change is more frequent than ever. And whether they are design changes requested by your General Contractor or extra work that you are tracking on a time and material basis, Change Orders can be painful. Changes also represent large risks for Specialty Contractors because they front the money for the work to be performed, but need Change Orders approved quickly to keep from being upside-down on the job and on the balance sheet. 

After hearing from our customers, we’ve identified these Top 5 Change Order Pain Points that Specialty Contractors face:


  1. REVENUE-AT-RISK: Specialty Contractors put top-line revenue at risk by financing extra work out-of-pocket and then relying on processes that lend themselves to poor, disorganized, and even lost documentation. This error-prone handling often fails to keep General Contractors up-to-date, or, worse yet, results in Change Orders not even making it to the approval process. 

  2. MANUAL PROCESSING: Project teams spend hours going back and forth responding to questions, assembling and exchanging Change Order logs, physically transporting T&M Tickets, and hunting down emails, all without any automation or connected tool sets. The result is countless wasted hours that could otherwise be spent on more productive tasks.  

  3. CASH FLOW: Simply put, the faster you can share out-of-contract work while it is fresh in the General Contractor’s mind, the more likely it will be approved quickly. But the amount of time it takes your team to assemble, package, and respond to either pricing requests or field-directed extra work prolongs the time it takes to get Change Order Requests into review, and teams can spend months on end waiting for approval. 

  4. LIMITED VISIBILITY: Because the only way to keep alignment with your GC is to send them an updated Change Order Log, it’s hard to tell if they have all of the latest information, or if they have even looked at it. This communication and visibility gap can lead Specialty Contractors to forecast a certain value for a Change Order Request, leading to surprises at the end of projects when Change Orders get rejected or negotiated downward, rapidly decreasing profit margins.

  5. STRAINED RELATIONSHIPS: Because of the manual nature of Change Orders and the visibility gap mentioned above, it is easy for Specialty Contractors to inadvertently surprise GCs with Change Order Requests late on a project. This can be one of the easiest ways to burn a bridge with a valued client – by sending them costs late in a project that they weren’t aware of or expecting. 

Interestingly, all of these pain points manifest from the same root cause: the fact that as multiple stakeholders work on a project, everyone is tracking change orders internally, and how we align on what’s outstanding is through a manual process of:

  • Downloading and sending static Change Order Logs back and forth
  • Reviewing documents and tracking updates in different email threads
  • Building email distribution lists for design changes and other pricing exercises
  • Using triplicate carbon copy paper for tracking T&M Tickets

At Clearstory, we call this The Change Order Gap, which is where Specialty Contractor Change Orders stall, get missed by the GC, and end up stagnating into one of these pain points. 

Clearstory was purpose-built to help Specialty Contractors solve The Change Order Gap and get CORs processed and closed faster to eliminate Change Order pain points at the source.  

How do we do it? Clearstory works alongside your project financial solution to keep your GC up-to-date and reduce surprises on out-of-contract work. We do it with our core tool: a cloud-based Change Order Log that you can send to every one of your GCs with a simple shareable link to ensure they have all of your files, all of your latest revisions, and everything all in one place to eliminate the excuses that cover traditional processing delays.  

On top of that, Clearstory has powerful workflows for digital T&M Tickets, COR Templates, analytics and project insights, and much more to solve the Change Order Gap. 

Specialty Contractors using Clearstory report massive savings of revenue-at-risk, faster Change Order approvals and payments, streamlined close-outs, and increased business from GCs who are likewise ready for a smarter, streamlined Change Order solution and productive, happy teams. 

The best part is you can get started in minutes without changing a single thing you’re doing today. Want to learn more about up-leveling your Change Order game and leaving Change Order headaches and pain points in the past? Contact us for a demo today. 

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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