In the legal world, words have meaning.  Not to say that words have any less meaning in the non-legal world, but sometimes you can get tricked up in your correspondence, notice letters, claims or otherwise when you use the wrong work.  Take, for example, the world of changes in the construction context.


When you are dealing with changes on a project, they can be classified, treated, reviewed, and compensated on a different basis.  Perhaps the best description is included in Tennessee Department of Transportation’s new specifications (pdf) that were release earlier this year.  According to the new specifications, here are three different types of changes:

  • Change Directive: A Change Order issued by the Department, when the Contractor has filed a claim, that allows the Department to compensate the Contractor for completed additional work as determined to be fair and reasonable by the Department and that does not require the consent or signature of the Contractor or Surety.
  • Change Order: A written agreement entered into by and between the Department and the Contractor, with the written assent of the Surety, covering modifications or alterations beyond the scope of the original Contract, and establishing any necessary new Contract items, any other
    basis of payment, and any time adjustments for the work affected by the changes. This Agreement becomes a part of the Contract when properly executed and approved.
  • Construction Change: A completed document, approved by the Engineer, covering changes in the Plans, Specifications or quantities, and additional items and the basis of payment that have been established by a previously executed Change Order.

As a contractor, just because you experience a change of work on the project does not mean you will automatically be entitled to additional time or money.  You will need to review your contract to make sure you are allowed any recovery for a change in your work. And when you get to the point of filing a claim for the impact of a change, then make sure you use the right words.