The change order is the one document that small-volume
contractors need the most but seem to use the least. This is
probably because many small-volume companies tend to take on
projects smaller in scope, and the smaller the scope of the
projects, the greater the tendency to let certain systems and
steps slide. On these types of projects, unenforceable verbal
change order agreements get made every day, and when your
office tries to bill for them you're out of luck. Here's a
simple general-purpose change order that I've created from the
Excel 2000 invoice template. It's meant to supplement your
office systems by making it possible for you or your lead
carpenters to get approval in the field for all those small
changes that can add up to big dollars.
There is no specific change order template in Excel, so I
started with one that's similar. Open Excel and on the FILE
menu click NEW. Click the Spreadsheet Solutions tab, then
double-click the Invoice icon, which will launch the template.
You may see an ominous "Macro" dialog box. Macros are necessary
for this form, so click "Enable macros" to enable them. Next
click FILE, then SAVE AS. If prompted, keep settings on "create
new record." Rename the template CHG_ORD. Scroll the "Save as
type" field to Template (.xlt), which will automatically add
the extension and put the file in the templates folder. Click
SAVE and close out of the file.
Editing the Template
When you click on NEW under the FILE menu, the template files
open a document that is a copy of the template, you can't open
the template in this way to edit it. Instead, use FILE, then
OPEN and drill down to the templates folder (for Windows98,
typically C:\programfiles\Microsoft\templates). On Windows2000
machines, the path to the file can be much longer, and the
easiest way to find it is to use the SEARCH or FIND command,
which is available from any folder in Windows2000.
When you first open your renamed template, it should look like
1. The original unmodified template in Excel
shows which fields need to be filled in.
To make it easier to edit the template, first turn the cell
row and column headers on. Go to TOOLS, then OPTIONS, and check
the "Row & column headers" box under the VIEW tab. You'll
be editing both tabs of the workbook, starting with "Customize
Heading. Starting at the
top of the "Customize Your Invoice" sheet, combine cells D4,
E4, and F4 by clicking with the mouse while holding down the
SHIFT key, and then click the MERGE CELLS icon on the
formatting toolbar (or click CELLS on the FORMAT menu, go to
the "Alignment" tab and select the box "Merge cells.") Now
change the cells to read CUSTOMIZE YOUR CHANGE ORDER. Continue
down the sheet filling in information and changing cell
information as you go. When done, your sheet should look like
the one in Figure 2.
2. Once the original invoice template has been
changed, you should have a change order template such
as this one.
Here's a summary of the changes:
Company information block. Simply add your
company information in the fields.
Invoice information block. Change the field titles by
either double-clicking in the cell and typing, or highlighting
the cell and typing in the formula bar.
1. Change "Invoice" to "Change Order."
2. Change the "Tax" fields to read "Overhead" and "Builder's
Fee" respectively with the labels Markup 1 and Markup 2.
3. Change "Shipping and Handling" to "Misc. Fee." Be sure to
add your percentages and information to the new fields.
Formatted information. The
template automatically places your company information into the
letterhead at the bottom of the sheet, but you can still add a
logo and/or format the plate font style. I chose "Copperplate
Gothic Bold" for the font, and added a company logo I created
in Paintshop Pro. The logo needs to be roughly 1x1 inch in
physical size, and should be some kind of bitmap format --
.bmp, .gif, .tif, and .jpg all work.