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  • Casey Sledge

Top 3 Ways to Change Order-Proof your School Construction Project

Construction of school facilities is at an all time high in the great state of Texas. Some schools are struggling to keep up with unprecedented student growth while others are dealing with crippling infrastructure and outdated classrooms. In the last 5 years, Texas taxpayers have approved an average of more than $7 Billion PER YEAR for school construction!

Today’s construction projects are complex and often rushed, so it may not be a surprise to learn:

· 77% of public project owners report having claims or disputes on their projects

· 85% of owners report their project exceeded budget

· 80% of owners expect additional costs from design mistakes

· 65% of plans to not meet codes and regulations

One of the most dreaded things for owners (and their taxpayers) to hear is “CHANGE ORDER”. Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect change orders along with their price increases and added delays. But what if we could “change order-proof” our projects? And I’m not referring to over-inflating our budget and contingency funds to cover these costs, I’m talking about reducing costs by reducing change orders.

In my 25 years of building public projects, I’ve developed an arsenal of tactics and processes to combat change orders. Here are my Top 3 Ways to Change Order-Proof your School Construction Project:


1. Communication

Make sure you know what is in your design plans by communicating with your design team thoroughly. Owners must lead their design teams by clearly stating project objectives. Get to know your design plans by reviewing them before you ask your Board to approve them. You are going to approve hundreds of plan sheets and thousands of specification pages – know what is in them! Do your plans have everything you want and nothing more? Adding or removing items later creates (you guessed it) change orders.

2. Constructability Review

A rigorous review that focuses on the construction process and sequencing. Are the plans buildable? Will subcontractors have any questions? Do the plans sheets match the details and the specifications? Do the plans enable different trade contractors to work together for an integrated result? Are the plans clear enough to minimize assumptions? The more assumptions bidders make, the more change orders you will have.

3. Peer Review

The most valuable review you can perform is a professional peer review where 3rd party professionals review your design to ensure smart design, proper materials selection, and efficient and maintainable systems. A strong peer review will prevent overdesign, ensure code compliance, and make your plans easier to bid to improve competition. The ROI of a quality Peer Review typically exceeds 900%! If you only do one thing to prevent change orders, this should be it!


At Sledge Engineering, our mission is to EDUCATE OWNERS AND IMPROVE CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS in the public sector. Since 2004, we’ve helped 45 Texas school districts with hundreds of projects and saved Texas taxpayers over $40 Million along the way.

We believe every public project should be:





So, how does your project R.A.T.E.? Contact us to find out at

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