It’s almost a guarantee that there will be change orders during a construction or utility project. Although often associated with the construction phase, change orders can occur during the site access phase. Avoiding extra costs early in the project is one of the keys to staying on budget, which is why it’s so important to understand why change orders might occur on a site access project so you can prevent them from happening in the first place.

Why Change Orders Happen on a Site Access Project

What could change on a site access project? Potentially a lot. Here’s why you might see change orders during even the earliest stages of a project.

Incomplete Information

Although you will always uncover something unexpected, the more information a site access provider has about a site, what equipment and materials need to be transported, environmental regulations, and so on, the more accurate the estimate will be. Information gaps will likely result in a change order if the site access provider has to change their strategy for providing safe access.

Inaccurate Information

Just as challenging as incomplete information, inaccurate data can impact the reliability of an estimate. When a site access provider works with incorrect site information, they could have to undo work that has already been completed to ensure safe access.

Poor Estimating

Sometimes, an inaccurate estimate is the result of incomplete or incorrect information. Poor estimating can also result from inexperience if the provider doesn’t know what to look for when scoping the project. They should know what questions to ask to get the information they need to provide a comprehensive estimate. When a site access provider realizes that more work or equipment will be required because they didn’t have all the information they needed, it can result in additional services which can increase costs.

How to Avoid Change Orders on a Site Access Project

What can you do to avoid change orders from happening in the first place? Take a proactive approach.

Value Engineering

Some site access providers provide rough calculations based on the general terrain and the distance you need to cover. Although this might be a good starting place for getting a general idea of the costs associated with your site access project, it’s not enough to get an estimate with the intent of avoiding change orders.

For many sites, every mile—or even every foot—is different. This needs to be taken into consideration to provide cost-effective access. A value engineering process that aims to get the right people and equipment in the right place at the right time will be more accurate than a blanket approach that relies on a stock formula. This results in fewer change orders and delays.

Contingency Planning

Having contingency plans can help you avoid change orders because the decisions are made in advance. This helps keep the project on track, even when unexpected situations such as foul weather, material shortages, and other common challenges arise. Pre Approved plans with associated budgets for certain situations keep the process flowing smoothly, even if they require extra time upfront. 

Site Planning Expertise

Working with a site access vendor that understands how to do the job right is the number one strategy for avoiding change orders. Choosing a partner that has worked in a range of geographic conditions and navigated environmental regulations is essential for successfully executing a site access project with as few snags as possible. 

When exploring your options, look for a partner that does project walk-downs before estimating to get a better idea of the terrain and potential obstacles. This could include wetlands, hilly terrain, and other geologic features that could impede the transportation of people, materials, and equipment. If a walk-down can't be accomplished for some reason, look for a partner that uses drone technology to see an overview of the project.

Yes, you might encounter challenges along the way—in fact, it’s likely—but an experienced site access provider will know how to tackle them while prioritizing your budget.

Get Your Next Site Access Estimate with YAK ACCESS 

As you embark on your next project, get in touch with our team for an estimate. We’ll start by gaining an understanding of your project and your actual needs, not just how far you need to travel from point A to point B. Depending on the scope and complexity of your project, we might recommend a site visit so we can accurately determine the expected costs. We’ll also help you understand what’s included so you can compare your vendor quotes with as much information as possible. 

Are you curious about the types of access matting we might recommend for your project? Check out our guide, A Complete Guide to Selecting the Right Ground Protection Mats for Your Next Project, for an overview.