Understanding Variation Price Requests

Variation price requests are formal submissions made by contractors to request additional payment for changes in the scope of work. These variations can be due to a variety of factors, including client requests, unforeseen site conditions, or regulatory changes.

Key Elements of a Variation Price Request:

  1. Description of the Variation:
    • Details: Clearly describe the changes required, including specific tasks, materials, and timelines.
    • Reason for Variation: Explain why the variation is necessary, such as client requests or site conditions.
  2. Cost Estimate:
    • Breakdown: Provide a detailed cost breakdown, including labour, materials, equipment, and any other relevant expenses.
    • Justification: Include supporting documentation, such as supplier quotes or additional work estimates.
  3. Impact on Project Schedule:
    • Timeline: Outline how the variation will affect the overall project schedule, including any delays or extensions.
    • Milestones: Adjust project milestones and deadlines accordingly.
  4. Approval and Implementation Plan:
    • Approval Process: Detail the steps required for approval, including stakeholder consultations and formal sign-offs.
    • Implementation: Develop a plan for implementing the approved variation, including resource allocation and timeline adjustments.

Key Steps in Handling Variation Requests

Effectively handling variation price requests involves a structured process that ensures all changes are managed systematically and transparently.

Step 1: Initial Assessment

  • Review Request: Conduct an initial review of the variation request to understand the scope, cost, and impact on the project.
  • Preliminary Discussion: Hold preliminary discussions with relevant stakeholders to gauge their initial reactions and gather feedback.

Step 2: Detailed Evaluation

  • Cost Analysis: Perform a detailed cost analysis to verify the accuracy of the submitted estimates and identify potential cost-saving measures.
  • Schedule Impact: Assess the impact of the variation on the project schedule and determine if any adjustments are needed.

Step 3: Stakeholder Consultation

  • Meetings: Organise meetings with all relevant stakeholders, including clients, contractors, and project managers, to discuss the variation request.
  • Feedback and Adjustments: Collect feedback and make necessary adjustments to the variation request based on stakeholder input.

Step 4: Formal Approval

  • Documentation: Prepare all necessary documentation, including a formal variation request form, cost estimates, and revised project schedules.
  • Sign-Off: Obtain formal approval from all stakeholders through signatures or electronic approval systems.

Step 5: Implementation and Monitoring

  • Action Plan: Develop a detailed action plan for implementing the approved variation, including resource allocation and task assignments.
  • Monitoring: Continuously monitor the implementation of the variation to ensure it stays on track and within budget.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Managing variation price requests can present several challenges. Here are some common issues and solutions:

Challenge 1: Delayed Approvals

  • Issue: Delays in the approval process can lead to project delays and increased costs.
  • Solution: Streamline the approval process by setting clear timelines and responsibilities. Use project management software to track and expedite approvals.

Challenge 2: Cost Overruns

  • Issue: Variations can lead to unexpected cost overruns, impacting the project budget.
  • Solution: Conduct thorough cost assessments and ensure contingency funds are available. Regularly update the project budget to reflect approved variations.

Challenge 3: Disputes Among Stakeholders

  • Issue: Variations can lead to disputes among stakeholders regarding the scope, cost, and implementation.
  • Solution: Maintain clear communication and transparent processes. Use mediation or arbitration to resolve disputes amicably.

Best Practices for Managing Costs

Adopting best practices for managing variation price requests can help control costs and ensure project success.

Practice 1: Detailed Documentation

  • Implementation: Ensure all variation requests are thoroughly documented, including detailed descriptions, cost estimates, and impact assessments.
  • Benefit: Provides a clear record of changes and facilitates transparent decision-making.

Practice 2: Regular Budget Reviews

  • Implementation: Conduct regular budget reviews to compare actual costs against estimates and identify variances early.
  • Benefit: Helps in taking corrective actions promptly to stay within budget.

Practice 3: Effective Communication

  • Implementation: Maintain regular communication with all stakeholders to provide updates on potential variations and their status.
  • Benefit: Ensures that all parties are informed and aligned, reducing misunderstandings and disputes.

Practice 4: Use of Project Management Tools

  • Implementation: Utilise project management software to track variation requests, update project plans, and communicate with stakeholders.
  • Benefit: Enhances efficiency and ensures that all variations are managed systematically.


Handling variation price requests in construction contracts requires a structured approach, clear communication, and effective cost management strategies. By understanding the key steps in handling variation requests, addressing common challenges, and adopting best practices, project managers can ensure that variations are managed efficiently and transparently. This not only helps in maintaining project control and staying within budget but also enhances client satisfaction and overall project success.