Using design-based change orders as a lessons learned metric in university dormitory construction
The enrollment at The University of Alabama has increased substantially in recent years and the University is expanding to meet the growing demands. The expansion includes four dormitory complexes built within the past five years. Change orders considerably influenced the final cost of the first and second dormitory projects and the University initiated the current study to follow-up on a global change order study that previously examined new construction on campus. The current study is part of a lessons learned initiative to improve the cost effectiveness of University construction projects. New dormitory construction projects were the main focus of this study and the change data from these facilities was analyzed based on the reasons for the change and what Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Division the change represented. While it was determined that the largest source of change orders on dormitory projects were owner initiated, these changes have not been targeted for reduction since they are at the discretion of the University and can be beneficial to the project. To gauge the performance of the change management program currently in place at the University, the direct impact on the total project cost due to changes resulting from design errors were analyzed for all four dormitory projects. The author hopes that the recommendations in this study will aid universities and colleges by providing a means to gather, track, and analyze changes that occur during the construction of dormitory projects and show how the lessons learned from the change orders during these projects can potentially reduce costs on future projects.