Change control and management guidance now out

Change and disruption are endemic in construction, as 2020 only confirmed. A new RICS guidance note aims to help UK construction professionals control and manage post-contract changes


  • Steven Thompson

13 January 2021

As construction professionals, we are all acutely aware of change – it is inevitable on construction projects of every size, and as a result we have considerable experience in managing it. Indeed, the events of 2020 have meant we have had to deal with project disruptions and changes as big as any we’re likely to see over the course of our careers.

It is apt, therefore, that RICS has now published the Change control and management guidance note, 1st edition, which is effective from 1 April this year.

This concentrates on changes proposed and made after a contract is agreed, and covers the role of the person requiring the change, whether the employer’s agent, the project manager or the contract administrator. It also looks at the contrast between a change and a variation and the different circumstances that apply to each, with reference to relevant contract provisions.

“The guidance note concentrates on changes proposed and made after a contract is agreed, and covers the role of the person requiring the change”

Knowing, doing and advising

The guidance note supports the RICS core competency of Contract practice. It requires that professionals:
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the various forms of contract used in the construction industry and the change control procedures they contain, along with the digital portals available for some contracts that can be used to control change on projects
  • apply that knowledge at a project-specific level, while being aware of the implications and obligations of the parties involved in the change control procedure
  • provide reasoned advice on the effect of the change control procedure, be able to prepare and present reports to employers to determine the correct change control procedure to use, and advise on the correct documentation and procedure at the various stages of a construction contract.

As such, the guidance note is presented in 3 main sections.

  • General principles

    This covers: the different types of change that may occur on a project and the reasons for these; change management principles; the issues around risk allocation; and how standard forms of contract – such as JCT, NEC and FIDIC – deal with change.

  • Practical application

    This covers: how progress is measured; work done outside the clause or contract scope; formal change management; evaluating and selecting changes to implement; responsibility and authority; managing changes in BIM; deemed changes or variations; valuation of changes; who pays for change; and reporting. The procedures used in the JCT, NEC and FIDIC suites are all analysed.

  • Practical considerations

    This covers: actions on receiving formal instructions for change; staying on budget; and considerations when advising on changes. It provides more in-depth consideration of effective stakeholder engagement – which is of importance when considering the need for the surveyor to balance the potentially conflicting priorities of the client and contractor.

The guidance note does not detail issues such as organisational change that might be taking place at the same time as the project, which could affect change and its management. Neither does it address value management or value engineering – professionals are encouraged to refer to the relevant RICS guidance note for such information.

Change control and management is the penultimate guidance note to be published in the UK Black Book, with Subcontracting to follow later this year. The comprehensive set of best practice guidance for the quantity surveying profession in the UK will then be complete.

Following this, we will embark on preparing a global standard for quantity surveying. This will provide principles-based technical material for quantity surveyors and project managers that can be applied to building and infrastructure projects globally.

Related competencies include: Contract practice

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