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The Impact of Change Orders on Your Luxury Pool Construction Costs

The Impact of Change Orders on Your Luxury Pool Construction Costs

“If I knew then what I know now, I never would've played so nonchalant…” is not just a great Taylor Swift lyric about hindsight; this relatable sentiment encapsulates much of how we feel after learning costly lessons and paying the price.

We've all been there—whether it's a minor mishap in the kitchen, a missed turn on a road trip, or an oversight in a personal decision. Our missteps often come with a price tag, both tangible and intangible. Similarly, change orders are pivotal in pool construction contracts in ensuring that the project aligns with evolving needs and unforeseen circumstances. However, these modifications can significantly impact the overall cost, timelines, and even the outcome of your dream pool.

After successfully executing thousands of change orders across our 15-year tenure, J Designs Pool and Spa has much wisdom about the potential pitfalls that can affect the cost and timeline of your pool construction project. One critical pitfall that demands attention is the management of change orders—those voluntary modifications that arise during the construction process. 

This article will dive into the depths of change orders– uncovering their hidden costs, implications for homeowners and contractors, and the strategies to mitigate potential setbacks.

What is a change order?

A change order is a modification made to a construction contract that affects the project's scope, timeline, cost, and materials. 


Change orders serve as a means to make adjustments in pool construction projects. However, it's crucial to ensure that all aspects of pool construction are completed before finalizing the contract. Incomplete items, not originally part of the contract, can lead to delays and increased costs.

According to The Contractors State License Board of California, any changes made to the swimming pool project in materials, completion date, and equipment (after you’ve signed a contract and even after work has begun) should be made in writing. The “change order” should be clearly worded and signed by both parties. It then becomes part of the contract.


Change orders can be categorized into three types: 

  • The first type includes changes made at the beginning of the project, such as material selections, a process we attentively guide each client through, ensuring that the materials selected are the best option for each individual’s unique needs. Understanding the significance of timely material selection and taking proactive steps can steer your project toward success, ensuring a seamless construction journey.

  • This second type consists of any changes in the plan or pool location due to unforeseen circumstances during excavation or demolition. Some examples of incomplete items due to unforeseen circumstances include:
      • Encountering unexpected obstacles like sewers or hard rock during excavation. For example, if the project is being built on a hillside and hard rock is uncovered during the dig, a change order needs to be submitted in order to bring in the extra labor and equipment required to remove the rock before installing the planned caissons for added structural support.
  • The third type includes changes made during the project. The timing of these change orders determines the extent of their effect on the project timeline and cost.
    • Additional features or equipment: If certain features, such as waterfalls, BBQs, lighting systems, or automated controls, are not included in the initial contract, requesting them later as change orders can result in additional time and expenses.

Making change orders early in the project, especially before specific phases begin, is less expensive and disruptive. To further illustrate this concept, let's consider the example of adding a fire pit. The following visual demonstrates this idea.


At Contract
1. No Change Order
Before Shotcrete Inspection
1. Needs permit revised
2. Plumbing crew needs to return
After Trenches Covered
1. Needs permit revised
2. Plumbing crew needs to return
3. Dig out trenches and backfill again
After Deck Installation
1. Needs permit revised
2. Demo and patch concrete or reroute gas line; needs to be re-inspected
3. Plumbing crew needs to return
4. Dig out trenches and backfill again

Each instance of the same change order incurs varying costs due to additional labor and resources.

It's important to understand that the contractor does not profit more from subsequent change orders, but the order does demand additional resources and coordination.


We’re on your side and want you to be the dynamic hero in your pool construction story. Here are seven tips to ensure a successful journey toward your dream pool while controlling costs.

1. Thorough Planning and Design:

  • Collaborate with your pool contractor to develop a comprehensive plan and design that aligns with your vision.

  • Consider all desired features during the initial design phase to avoid mid-project changes.

2. Material Selection:

  • Make timely decisions on material selections, which are crucial in project timelines.

  • Opt for early change orders related to materials and equipment to prevent delays and ensure smooth progress.

 3. Clear Communication:

  • Maintain open and transparent communication with your pool contractor throughout the construction process.

  • Clearly express your preferences and any potential changes to avoid misinterpretation and last-minute adjustments.

4. Anticipate Future Needs:

  • Consider potential future additions or modifications to your project during the initial design phase.

  • Discuss these possibilities with your contractor to ensure adequate planning and minimize future change orders.

5. Understand Timing Implications:

  • Be aware of the impact of timing on change orders. Early modifications are often easier to incorporate and result in fewer disruptions.

  • Delayed change orders, especially during advanced construction stages, can cause significant delays and additional expenses.

6. Cost Evaluation and Budgeting:

  • Assess the potential costs associated with change orders, considering labor, materials, and any necessary permits or inspections.

  • Set aside an allocated contingency fund to account for unforeseen changes or modifications during construction.

7. Regular Project Reviews:

  • Conduct regular construction progress reviews to identify any potential issues or necessary adjustments early on.

  • Promptly address any concerns or desired modifications to prevent complications and minimize change order requirements.


While we make every effort to roll out the Hollywood red carpet to accommodate our clients, we balance your expectations with real results. Change orders that stall labor add costly logistical obstacles, impeding project timelines and your allocated project funds. 

For instance, change orders that require delaying excavation pose additional challenges. Pool construction companies are not able to keep resources and workers on standby whilst waiting for change orders to be finalized.

Instead, resources and workers are allocated to other projects while change orders are being processed. Consequently, projects with change orders are pushed back into the production queue, resulting in delays.

Customers can, however, keep their place in line by planning for any additional work that may be needed to accommodate change orders.

Change_Order_Pending_Approved_GraphicThat's where our Homeowner Portal comes into play - your digital command center for efficient project management.

Keep track of your pool or spa project's progress, communicate with our team, review timelines, and access important documents from any device.

By using this tool, we have been able to simplify the Change Order procedure for all clients making it (virtually) seamless.



After reading this article, your foresight about navigating change orders will ensure your project’s success and spare you from regret and unnecessary waiting or excessive costs.

You don’t know what you don’t know, but lucky for you, we here at J Designs do know. We possess extensive knowledge gained from 15 years of educating our clients about various planning oversights that can impede pool construction's cost-effectiveness and timely completion. 

As such, we’re committed to adopting an educator mindset, sharing pivotal information with our customers, both on-site and online. In the realm of pool and spa construction, ignorance is not a blissful state.

Your orderly pool construction project is just one tap away; contact us and schedule a consultation to transform your blue lagoon dreams into a reality worth chasing.

Not yet ready to speak to a pool professional? Don’t fret; you’re the hero, and time is your sidekick! Check out these related articles for more information:



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