Contract changes and variations
Building or renovating a home is sometimes a work in progress and you or your contractor may have to make some changes along the way. Be sure to get variations in writing.
What is a variation
Changes to the contract after it is signed are referred to as ‘variations’. Variations should be kept to a minimum to avoid cost overruns and potential confusion on site.
Failure to properly and accurately record and approve variations before they are implemented is one of the most common causes of serious building disputes. It is very important to both owners and building contractors to ensure these changes are properly documented.
Documenting an agreed variation
Whether it is the contractor or the client who requests the variation, the QBCC Act requires that before the contractor commences the variation work:
- the contractor must present the variation to you in writing
- you must agree to it in writing.
The variation may be given to you (and you may respond):
- in person
- by post
- in accordance with any provision in the contract providing for the service of notices.
You can find a variation document for use in our contract templates (scroll down the page for a list of our available contracts and individual documents).
Inclusions in a variation document
The variation document given by the contractor must include certain details which you should carefully check. These requirements are set out below.
The document that outlines the variation must:
- be readily legible (easy to read)
- describe the variation
- state the date of the request for the variation
- if the variation will result in a delay affecting the subject work—state the building contractor’s reasonable estimate for the period of delay
- state the change to the contract price because of the variation, or the method for calculating the change to the contract price because of the variation
- if the variation results in a change to the contract price—states when the increase is to be paid or the decrease is to be credited.
See changing or cancelling insurance for information on what to do when your contract is varied.
The building contractor must give the owner a copy of the variation in writing before the first of the following happens:
- the domestic building part of the variation work starts
- 5 business days from the day both parties agree to the variation.
The only exception is if the variation work is required to be carried out urgently and and it is not reasonably practicable, in the circumstances, to produce a written copy of the variation before carrying out the work.