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By Keith R Molenaar; Gerald Yakowenko; Construction Institute.; Construction Research Council (Washington, D.C.)

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These are called unilateral changes. A contract does not allow the owner unilaterally to require the contractor to perform work that is beyond the scope of the contract work, even if the contractor is compensated. The contractor can agree or dis- Types of Changes and Disputes 39 agree, and this is called a bilateral change. AIA A201 (AIA 1987) calls this a contract modification. Contractor consent is required, and the contractor may rightly refuse to do the work. Suppose that a subcontractor has a contract to paint the interior of a building.

Unilateral Change All contracts require contractors to perform changes to the work that are within the general scope of the work. The contractor’s only recourse is to protest and file a claim; however, the contractor must still do the work. These are called unilateral changes. A contract does not allow the owner unilaterally to require the contractor to perform work that is beyond the scope of the contract work, even if the contractor is compensated. The contractor can agree or dis- Types of Changes and Disputes 39 agree, and this is called a bilateral change.

To aid in understanding the different types of changes, Fig. 5-1 was developed. 37 38 Interpreting Construction Contracts Figure 5-1. Types of Changes. Bilateral Change vs. Unilateral Change All contracts require contractors to perform changes to the work that are within the general scope of the work. The contractor’s only recourse is to protest and file a claim; however, the contractor must still do the work. These are called unilateral changes. A contract does not allow the owner unilaterally to require the contractor to perform work that is beyond the scope of the contract work, even if the contractor is compensated.

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