One of the more nuanced terms thrown around in construction conversations is “extra work”. One could simply define “extra work” as any work planned or completed outside of the originally contracted scope of work. It’s typically billed and paid separately as it does not fall within the contract parameters.

This is a layman’s definition, though. In reality, extra work is a much more complex and delicate subject. It can’t be classified as “additional work”, even if the two terms are used interchangeably. So what’s the difference between additional and extra work? What precisely falls under the umbrella of extra work? And how is your construction contract involved?


The primary difference between extra and additional work pertains to the contract, specifically the agreed upon scope of work expected out of the contractor. Additional work can be thought of as unforeseen work that was necessary to complete the contract. This includes any essential features that are required for the constructional design. Extra work is anything that is not explicitly stated in the contract. Construction is a precise endeavor and requires precision from its participants. This extends to every contributing party and aspect in the construction process, including the scope of work and contract agreement. Extra work usually refers to additions or design choices made by the client outside of the contract and after the signing. These can range from aesthetic features to different materials. A comprehensive plan-of-action before agreeing to the contract can prevent the need for extra work and unnecessary spending.


Who pays for additional and extra work? The short answer is that additional work is covered by the contractor, while extra work is covered by the client. However, every construction contract is unique. There may be certain provisions within the contract that allow the client to ask for extra features, even if they weren’t explicitly required by the scope of work. In this case payment for these features needs to be decided upon beforehand, when the contract was originally drafted. Supplementary features that the client specifically asks for that are not covered under a contract’s provisions can be regarded as extra work. One would use a “change order”, a legally binding document that adds or deducts work from a pre-existing construction contract. One could consider this a new contract with new work, and therefore payment is expected from the client.

  • Occasionally a situation will arise wherein a contractor goes above and beyond for a client, such as completing additional work and ordering materials of a higher quality, without the client’s overt approval or additional work provisions in the contract.
  • This falls outside of the scope of work, but is still considered additional work, and therefore the contractor is not entitled to extra compensation. At the end of the day, it’s better to have a comprehensive construction contract with provisions for additional and extra work fees.

  • Not only could this save you money and unnecessary stress, but it might prevent arguments with your contractor and setbacks in your construction project.


Extra work orders are a bit more straightforward than their counterpart, change orders. If a client decides to add something to the design after signing the original contract, and if that request is only additional and doesn’t alter the initial agreement, then we issue an extra work order as a separate transaction. The extra work order process consists of preparing an estimate for your review.

The estimate includes extra costs, changes to the original scope of work, and a new deadline for your construction project. We want to make sure the extra work order meets your requirements and budgetary constraints. After you sign the new estimate, we can begin ordering the necessary materials and hiring subcontractors for the extra work. It’s good to note that extra work on your project will most likely require additional time until completion. But don’t worry! We do our best to account for extra work in the original project proposal in order to meet your deadlines.

At BT Construction & Development Inc. we encourage our clients to always inquire about additional work. We can provide an estimate for you in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s better to wait until we start opening up walls and figuring out the design and functionality of certain improvements before we tack on extra work though. We want these decisions to be as simple as possible for you, and we are always here to offer advice and answer any questions you might have.

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