Construction Change Orders in ADUs: How to Avoid Them in 2024

Navigating the construction of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) can be complex, with construction change orders representing one of the most significant challenges. Understanding and minimizing these can lead to a smoother construction process and keep your project on budget and schedule. 

Let’s dive into the essentials of construction change orders and how to avoid them in your ADU project in 2024.

What is a Construction Change Order?

A construction change order is an official request for adjustments to the original construction agreement.

construction change orders for ADUs

It can particularly involve changes in the scope of work, materials, design, or timelines. In addition, it may involve necessitating an amendment to the contract terms.

What is Included in a Change Order?

Change orders typically include a detailed description of the new work to be performed, adjustments to the project’s timeline, revised costs, and impact on the overall project. They require agreement and signatures from both the homeowner and the contractor to be valid.

What are the Common Causes of Change Orders?

Change orders often stem from unforeseen site conditions, changes in homeowner preferences, errors in the original design, or regulatory changes. Identifying these potential issues early can significantly reduce the need for change orders.

construction change orders for ADU project


How to Avoid Change Orders

The following points can come in handy in order to avoid change orders in your ADU project:


  • Comprehensive Planning: Before investing in your ADU project, ensure your design is complete and well-thought-out, minimizing last-minute changes.


  • Clear Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your contractor and design team. Regularly discuss progress and potential issues.


  • Detailed Contract: Your initial contract should cover the project scope, materials, and designs in detail to avoid misunderstandings.


  • Contingency Budget: Allocate a contingency budget for unforeseen expenses, reducing the need to renegotiate the contract. In order to set aside this budget, it helps to know the financing options available to you.


  • Regular Site Visits: Stay involved by making regular visits to the construction site. This allows you to catch potential issues before they necessitate a change order.


While construction change orders can be a normal part of building an ADU, they often lead to increased costs and delays. By following these steps, you can minimize their occurrence and ensure your ADU project in 2024 runs as smoothly as possible.

At GoldenADU, our expertise in ADU development and familiarity with guidelines puts us in an e

Contact us today at 213-693-2405 to get your free ADU consultation!


What triggers a construction change order for an ADU?

Unplanned changes in design, unexpected site conditions, or material availability can trigger a change order.

Can I refuse a construction change order?

Yes, but it may affect the project’s completion. It’s crucial to discuss and negotiate terms that work for both parties.

How do change orders affect the project timeline?

They can extend the project duration, depending on the scope of the changes requested.

Should I always expect change orders in ADU construction?

While not always inevitable, planning for the possibility helps manage expectations and budget.

How can I ensure my contractor communicates potential change orders promptly?

Establish a communication plan at the project’s outset, including how and when changes will be communicated.

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