In other words if you don’t do the addition work quickly it is your client who will be up the creek, not you. Therefore when the request for variation work comes your way you can afford to think it over carefully, review what the contract says about how to document it, and then decide whether you want to do it.
If your client refuses to abide by the contract’s terms about signing for, or approving variations, then ‘don’t bloody do it!” (Yeah go back and read that bit again too).
Get it on paper
All your variation work needs to end up on paper. As mentioned the contract will describe what documents and procedures are required for a valid variation to be approved under the contract. So know what they are and follow them.
If your contract is less formal and there is no specified procedure then get the request and approval on paper. This can be documented on your own Site Instruction Form, Site Diary, an email exchange, or even a form that I recommend that all contractors develop: ‘Confirmation of Verbal Direction’ form. (Or a CVD form) This kind of document can become valid contemporaneous evidence that additional work was requested and to which you agreed to carry out. My article in the previous issue of ‘Building Contractor’ talked about how paperwork gets you paid. Variations is a key area where this applies in bucket loads.
Claim for Variation work every month
The biggest mistake made by contractors is holding off on claiming variations until the end of the job. It is a mistake for the following reasons:
Your client will almost always have forgotten just how much additional work was carried out, and the shock of the additional cost will express itself in anger and non payment.
If the matter goes to adjudication, it will affect the credibility of your case because the adjudicator will wonder why all this work was not claimed for through the course of the job. It may raise the question of whether the work was actually done.
The longer you go without documenting all the additional work, the greater the likelihood you will lose, or forget all the details of the work and what you should be claiming.
So the lesson here is to claim for Variation work every single month in your normal monthly progress claim. Don’t be shy, and don’t dither. Do it. If you’re going to fight with your client then do it early rather then at the end when you’re carrying the cost of all the additional work but have been paid none of it because you’ve been too timid.
Strength and Discipline
Getting paid for variation work requires the strength to withstand your client’s threats, and the discipline to keep excellent documentation. But once you’ve done it once, it will get easier. You will get stronger and better at the paperwork, and better at knowing how to follow the contract’s requirements.
Then all of a sudden Variation work will make you money, rather than losses.