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Expecting the Unexpected—Don’t Let a Contract Addendum Derail Your Outdoor Project

Don't let a contract addendeum derail your outdoor living space project

Imagine your new deck or porch project is underway, and your builder tells you an addendum to your contract is needed. Should that be cause for concern? No, it should not be. What it means is that something has changed, and the original terms of your contract are no longer sufficient. Perhaps additional work is needed that neither you nor Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio could have anticipated.

There are many circumstances that might require an addendum to the contract for your outdoor living project. Regardless of what changed and caused the need for an addendum, putting it in writing is by far the best way to proceed. You don’t have to be a lawyer to appreciate that. A signed addendum to your contract can prevent misunderstandings. It protects the builder and the client and keeps your working relationship on an even keel.

When you and your builder sign an addendum, you are documenting the nature of the change and how it will affect the price of your project.

Common Reasons for a Contract Addendum

The most frequent cause for an addendum on a construction project—including your deck, patio , or 3-season room addition—is unforeseen circumstances. Another might be structural amendments and problems. Here are some of the typical circumstances that require a contract addendum:

Material unavailability: Perhaps the manufacturer has permanently discontinued the specific type of screening you wanted to use for your new screened porch. Perhaps the railing you envisioned for your new low-maintenance deck is temporarily out-of-stock and on back order. If you must choose a different material than the specific selection we wrote into your contract, that can affect the price of your project.

Unexpected conditions revealed: “Expect the unexpected” could be a motto for homeowners launching any kind of remodeling project, including the addition of an outdoor living space. If we’re replacing your deck, our quote for the project is based on conditions that we can see. If we tear off your old deck and discover dry rot where it was attached to your home, that will be cause for an addendum. The additional work will require additional materials and labor. Your addendum in this case will include a cost increase.

One example of this kind of unexpected discovery was an old deck we removed and found it had no flashing. In a situation like that, we couldn’t just proceed as planned. We needed to remedy the problem and make the area structurally sound prior to adding the new structure we had contracted to build.

Clients changing their minds: Homeowners are allowed to change their minds about materials or design specifics after a project is underway. We don’t love that, but it’s the client’s prerogative. You have to realize, though, that changes will most likely increase your project costs.

Composite deck addition by Archadeck

Changes to building code: Once in a while, we’ll run into a change to a city’s or county’s building code. It doesn’t happen often. At Archadeck of Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio, we stay up-to-date with changing building codes. If a code change becomes effective between the day you sign the contract and when we pull a building permit, we’ll need a contract addendum.

Another possibility—and yes, we have seen this happen—is that one inspector may interpret the code differently and require a change no one expected. As a result, additional materials and labor may necessitate an addendum to our contract.

Although bad weather may not lead to an addendum, we still want to mention how fickle Mother Nature can be in regards to any outdoor remodeling project. We all expect some bad weather from time to time, but we don’t know exactly when it’s going to hit. Of course, you expect snow in the winter, rain in the spring, and dangerous heat in the summer. But you don’t expect any of those conditions to last all season. We can’t predict what weather conditions will—not might, but will —affect your project while it’s in progress.

Inclement weather and damages caused by weather can lead to project delays

Why a Contract Addendum is a Good Thing

Imagine screened porch builder Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio is working on your custom screened porch and you realize you need a doggie door. Maybe you just inherited a dog, or you couldn’t resist the rescue pup your friends were fostering. Regardless of the reason for additional work and materials, we need an addendum to the contract to document the change.

Dog holding bowl in his mouth

Now, imagine we didn’t write up an addendum for both parties to sign in that situation. If we just said, “Okay, no problem,” and proceeded to add a doggie door, would you be surprised when the amount of your final payment increased? What if the increase was higher than you expected?

What if we just mentioned a cost increase in passing and didn’t bother to write it down for both of us to sign off on? Putting the change in writing eliminates the possibility of a misunderstanding later.

As you can see, there are many potential reasons for a contract addendum, and most are beyond our control. One way to prepare for this possibility is to budget for unexpected costs before your project begins. Setting money aside just in case—expecting the unexpected—is the best way to ensure that a contract addendum doesn’t derail your enjoyment of your new outdoor space.

Beautiful white deck

Are you ready to discuss your plans for a new outdoor living project? Archadeck of West Central & Southwest Ohio can design a structure that’s just right for the way you want to enjoy the outdoors. Contact us today at (937) 563-4847.

Tim Stephen, Owner of Archadeck of West Central Southwest