In sum, to get paid for extra work you have to comply with the contract. If the contract requires written notice, verbal notice of a claim for extra work does not comply with the contract’s requirements. If the contract requires a signed change order before you start the additional work, wait until you have a signed change order.
But what if the contract is silent? Then the issue becomes a matter of proof. With the ease of email in mobile phones, if someone tells you to do something extra on a job, shoot them an email and ask them to just reply and confirm. Be sure to include the material information as to scope of work and payment. This type of proof can avoid people forgetting verbal agreements to pay. This practice may keep you out of court, but if you end up in a dispute, this kind of proof can help you win.
Finally, in order to limit disputes over the value of the additional work, keep detailed records of all of your expenses (labor, equipment and materials). It is also a good idea to keep the other party well advised as to the cost of the extra work. Your chances of payment without a dispute are greater if the other party isn’t surprised by the cost of the extra work.
This article is meant as general knowledge and not meant to substitute for legal advice on specific issues. If you have a question, please call Doug McClanahan at 861-0693.