Effects of delivery systems on change order size and frequency in mechanical construction

David R. Riley, Brenton E. Diller, Daniel Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Change orders represent one of the largest sources of cost growth on building construction projects. Field generated, or "unforeseen" change orders can also be highly disruptive to field productivity. Design-build delivery methods can potentially help minimize change orders on construction projects. This study was performed to closely examine the effects of delivery methods on the frequency and magnitude of change orders in mechanical construction, and how design-build business practices can be used to minimize the frequency of field generated chance orders. In a study of 598 change orders occurring on 120 construction projects performed by the same contractor, the total number of change orders was found to be close to the same on design-build and design-bid-build projects, however an 87% decrease in the average number of unforeseen change orders was observed on design-build projects versus design-bid-build projects. In addition, the average size of unforeseen change orders was 86% smaller on design-build projects. A detailed and qualified presentation of the research methodology and resulting data is provided. Key attributes and business practices leading to the results are discussed and practical applications of this research for owners and contractors are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-962
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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