John Jr. Piazza Construction - Design Build Renovate

Change Order

Change Orders are unfortunately looked on by many as the “dirty words” of the construction business. This should not be the case. A true custom builder should be willing to customize the home as the building progress.

At John Piazza Jr. Construction, we are willing to customize the home at the initial stages of the design or any time during the construction progress as long as we are reasonably compensated for efforts. If we can move a closet from one side of a bedroom to the other with a pencil (on the plans) before it is built then there is little or no charge for this service. If however, we have to move the closet from one side of the bedroom to another with a sledge hammer after it has been framed, dry walled and painted, then there will be a charge commensurate with the amount effort the workman have to extend and how the change delays the project.

As a result of the step by step process we use to guide our clients, tearing things out is a rare occurrence at John Piazza Jr. Construction. We pride ourselves in educating our customers in the whole process as we proceed so that they can make sound decisions in a timely fashion so that everything goes in right the fist time. The change order process and the associated cost should be clearly defined in the contract with unit prices agreed upon up front so that there are no disagreements between the parties when a change order occurs. Most of our change orders are revenue neutral. When a customer makes a selection decisions or changes such a shifting from GE refrigerator to one that costs essentially the same, a customer should not be penalized for this kind of change if it is made early enough prior to the orders being placed.


The contract documents serve as the road map for the construction process once the budget is agreed upon and the design is complete. A competent custom home builder who has been in business for a period of time should be able to provide you with a fair contract that will accurately direct the course of events throughout the construction process. You should expect the contract to be one sided in favor of the builder. This is because; the owner is usually a neophyte at this process, but the builder should be an expert in the home building trade. The builder should be held responsible for all that accrue in the construction of the home. We at John Piazza Jr. Construction pride ourselves in having a contract that we have refined since 1973 that is clear, concise and fair to all parties. Once we finalize our contract with you we encourage you to take it to your attorney and get their opinion. In many cases, our customer’s attorney’s advice their clients that if we are as professional in our construction as we are in our contract presentation they have made the decision in a contractor. When you come to John Piazza Jr. Construction, do not ask for our “boiler plate” contract, because we do not have one. We have multiple selection contract basis which is customized for each owner and which is driven by their lot, the type of home and the finishing.

Contract Formats

Construction contracts take several forms, but these 3 are the most popular.

Most custom home contract in Washington is referred to as ‘turnkey”. In this contract format, the owner and builder agree what will be in the home and the contractor gives a fixed price to complete the work in the contract documents.

This is another contract format where a detailed fixed dollar amount is agreed upon that the contractor will receive for his work. This is not generally used in this area because the fixed fee will change if the owner changes the scope of the work. A fixed fee also generally means that the owner is responsible for whatever the cost of a job ends up being which can be dangerous without a budget guarantee from the contractor.

There are several forms of Cost Plus Contracts. The most common form of a Cost Plus Contract is where we give you an estimate of the cost of the home based on a set of specifications much like a fixed price contract. Much like a fixed priced contract, if the home were to be built per those specifications the cost of the home would come in at the estimated price. In a cost plus scenario you would pay only the exact invoice costs plus either an agreed upon fixed overhead and profit or an agreed upon percentage of the costs. This contract type is best suited to the client that will make numerous changes or is undecided in their selections and wants the flexibility to make those changes. The disadvantages of the Cost Plus Contract are the schedule is a continual moving target plus the end budget is also a continual moving target. The Cost Plus Contract is best suited for the client that is not tied to a strict budget, bank loan or schedule.


Hopefully this outline has made you more comfortable with the over all custom homes process. I will repeat what I said initially in that there is no way the entire process can be explained to the uninitiated in the short space and time. Your best key to a successful custom home process is to do your home work and check references extensively so you choose a good, competent, experienced custom homebuilder to guarantee your dreams will become a reality in a cost effective, timely enjoyable fashion. We are available to go over your plans and lot or to start from scratch – give us a call and let’s get started.

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