A “constructive change” occurs when an owner action or omission not formally acknowledged by the owner to be a change in the contact’s scope of work forces the contractor to perform additional work. Constructive changes are not formal change orders, but informal changes that could have been ordered under a contract’s changes clause if the change had been recognized by the owner. The constructive change doctrine recognizes that being informally required to do extra work is similar to a formal change order and should be governed by similar principles. Thus, if it is found that a constructive change order did occur, the contractor may be entitled to payment for additional costs incurred, and an extension to the contract performance period.
Constructive changes most often arise where there is a dispute regarding contract interpretation, defective plans and specifications, acceleration or suspension of work, interference or failure to cooperate with the contractor, misrepresentation or nondisclosure of superior knowledge or technical information, over inspection, or a delay in providing requested information crucial to the contractor’s ability to continue work.