Steps to Adjust Provisional Sums

Identifying the Need for Adjustment

The first step in adjusting provisional sums is identifying when an adjustment is necessary. This can occur due to various reasons, such as changes in project scope, unforeseen site conditions, fluctuations in material costs, or updated specifications. Regularly reviewing the project budget and comparing initial estimates with actual costs helps in identifying these needs.

  • Provisional Sum Adjustment: This term refers to revising the initially estimated provisional sums to reflect the actual costs incurred during the project.
  • Provisional Sum Allowance: This term refers to the initial amount set aside in the budget for items or work that were not fully detailed at the time of contract signing.

Documentation and Approval Process

Once the need for an adjustment is identified, the next step is to document the changes and seek approval. Proper documentation ensures transparency and helps avoid disputes later on. This process typically includes:

  1. Detailed Justification: Provide a clear and detailed explanation of why the adjustment is necessary. Include any supporting documents, such as updated quotes, site reports, or design changes.
  2. Revised Estimates: Prepare revised estimates for the provisional sum, reflecting the new anticipated costs.
  3. Stakeholder Approval: Submit the documentation to relevant stakeholders, such as the project owner or financial manager, for approval.

Communication with Stakeholders

Effective communication is vital throughout the adjustment process. Ensure that all stakeholders, including contractors, suppliers, and project owners, are informed about the proposed adjustments. Clear communication helps in managing expectations and securing the necessary approvals promptly.

  • Regular Updates: Schedule regular meetings or updates to discuss any changes in the project scope or budget, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Transparent Communication: Maintain transparency by providing detailed information and updates about the adjustments, including the reasons behind them and their impact on the overall budget.

Implementing the Adjustment in the Project Budget

After receiving approval, the final step is to implement the adjustment in the project budget. This involves updating the budget documents and financial records to reflect the new provisional sum amounts. Proper implementation ensures that the project remains financially on track and can accommodate the adjusted costs without major disruptions.

  • Budget Updates: Update the project budget to include the revised provisional sum amounts. Ensure all financial records are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Financial Tracking: Monitor the adjusted budget closely to track expenditures and ensure they align with the revised estimates.

Real-Life Examples of Provisional Sum Adjustments

To better understand the process, let’s look at some real-life examples of provisional sum adjustments:

Adjusting Landscaping Costs

Initially, a construction project includes a provisional sum of $10,000 for landscaping. As the project progresses, the landscape architect finalises the design, and the actual cost is determined to be $12,000. The provisional sum is adjusted upwards by $2,000 to cover the additional expenses. The project manager documents the changes, seeks approval, and updates the project budget accordingly.

Custom Light Fixtures

A homeowner has a provisional sum of $5,000 for custom light fixtures. Once the specific fixtures are chosen, the cost comes to $4,500. The provisional sum is adjusted downwards by $500, freeing up funds for other uses within the project. The adjustment is documented, approved by the project owner, and the budget is updated to reflect the new amount.

Utility Connection Costs

A developer includes a provisional sum of $15,000 for utility connections. During the project, it is discovered that additional work is needed to connect the building to the municipal water supply, increasing the cost to $18,000. The provisional sum is adjusted upwards by $3,000 to account for these additional expenses. The adjustment is documented, communicated to stakeholders, approved, and implemented in the project budget.

For more understanding of provisional sum adjustments, including detailed examples and best practices, visit our comprehensive guide here Understanding Provisional Sum Adjustments in Construction Projects.


Adjusting provisional sums is a critical aspect of managing construction project budgets. By following a structured approach to identify the need for adjustments, documenting and seeking approval, communicating effectively with stakeholders, and implementing the changes in the budget, project managers can ensure financial control and project success. Effective management of provisional sum adjustments helps avoid disputes, ensures transparency, and keeps the project on track.