Curious what is T&M? The time & material (T&M) contract is based on real-time spent on a project and is an hourly basis or man-day rate. T&M is a different approach to a project than using a fixed price model contract. The fixed price contract look less risky; for, you know the aggregate cost of the project before it goes to the next level – development. However, in reality, it’s not beneficial for the employer/owner/investor.

What is T&M

Benefits of a T&M Contract:

The Final Product can be Modified as Needed 

In the T&M contract, as the employer/owner/investor, you can get the product modified as you may require. Because of constant changes in products, it’s important to make the necessary changes in the product to suit the needs of the end user. If the work involves developing a product, there is enough scope to adjust the functionality, or simplifying the product.

Because you Finalize the Product, it’s Per Your Will 

The investor considers the suitability of the product at every stage. This will make it possible for the contractor to make the product exactly what the investor/employer/owner desires.

It Enables Saving 

The employer needs to pay only for the actual project work executed. This will help save time as well as money spent on the project.


A T&M contract allows transparency. The details sent by the contractor with respect to work such as invoices can be easily verified by the employer.

In Which Case Should I Choose a T&M Contract?What is T&M

If you’re an independent contractor, consider T&M contracts if:

  • The project is meant for the long-term and involves dynamic attributes including the composition of the work (design, development, etc.).
  • The project scope is not clear.

If you are a client/employer/investor, and going for a T&M contract, consider these carefully:

  • Rate – When you’re negotiating a T&M contract, ensure to know the rate in detail. Check if it valid until the close of the contract. If a daily rate is specified, ensure you get the worth of your money. Some personnel such as supervisors need not charge full pay. To economize the cost, make sure they are also in the belt of hourly-payment.
  • Check invoices carefully – Review the invoices. Check how many hours each employee is working and charging for their role. You can find that people at the top take the most money.
  • Communication – Keep on communicating with the service provider. Get weekly updates on your project. Tally the progress in the project with the additional money you spent.
  • Material procurement – If you are familiar with the material required for the project, it is better you buy them because in case the contractor buys them, they pad the cost. The money you save by buying the material yourself can be placed back into the project.
  • Change order – T&M contacts don’t mention what to be delivered. Yet, you should play a proactive role – you may have to do some changes. Add more hours; raise the number of team members, etc. Any change you intend to make has to be done by sending a Change Order. The crux of the matter is you should be the decision maker.

Bottom Line

So, what is T&M? Time and Material contracts allow you to pay for materials and labor to be done in a certain amount of time. This is different than fixed-labor contracts because those don’t limit to a certain time frame. DataStreet provides solutions to subcontractors in the field for their T&M contracts and any change orders necessary.

Due to the multifarious nature of building projects, a change order is unavoidable in the construction industry. Additions and changes to the work specified in a contract may be necessary. A change order also referred to as a variation order, is a written order to a contractor that details changes to the contract, such as work, items and other types of changes.

The Reasons for Change Orders

A change order is executed if changes significantly alter the scope of the work or add items. Every client hopes that their project goes as planned. However, many projects in construction go through some form of change in order before completion.

In many cases, the changes are small and do not seriously affect the schedule or project value. In other instances, some major changes are necessary due to unforeseen circumstances. Some common reasons for initiating change orders include:

Additional compensation to contractors for additional work outside the variations in the original contract

• Changes in the design and character of work due to incorrect estimations

• Compensation to contractors for costs associated with varying site conditions

• Discovering problems that cause changes from the original plan

• The project owner is unable to complete the necessary delivery within the budget necessitating the addition of time, money or resources

• Inadequate project objectives leading to design restrictions

What is a Change Order in Construction

Contractors have to learn how to correctly use the various types of change orders in order to collaborate with project owners. Generally, there are four types of change orders. These are Time and Material, Lump Sum, Zero Cost, and Unitary Cost change orders.What is a Change Order in Construction

1. Lump Sum

A lump sum change order is used when the defined change in the work scope is quantifiable, and a definite price developed. It can occur when the contractor or project owner finds conditions that warrant a change in work scope.

2. Zero Cost

This is similar to a lump sum change order. The difference between the two is that a zero cost change order does not change the contracted price. It is used to document project changes that do not affect the contract value.

3. Time and Material (T&M)

This change order is utilized when the entire cost of the change cannot be ascertained. There are instances where changes in work scope cannot be defined or are unforeseen during a construction project. An example is conditions that warrant repairs before construction begins.

In such instances, a contractor will track the time and materials used to deal with the situation. The project owner can request labor and material breakdown to justify the cost of the change order. Factors affecting T&M tags are negotiated as part of the original contract.

4. Unitary Cost

This type of change order is based on unitary cost schedule values. The contractor negotiates the cost of work scope additions that are defined by specific measurement units. A unitary cost schedule is vital for controlling the cost of extra work units where the quantity of work is out of the project owner’s control.

Overall, knowing what is a change order in construction will help to manage each contractual change to best fit the interests of all parties involved. Change Orders are essential tools for managing the changes that occur during the construction process. They have the ethical responsibility of managing change order processes responsibly.

Are you wondering what are the advantages of time and material contracts, and how they compare to other options? If yes, the various facts about these two factors discussed below will definitely assist you choose wisely the right option for your project. Several years ago outsourcing agreements were built courtesy of fixed price model. However, recently time- and material business model is commonly used due to the various pros it carries along. Selecting the appropriate pricing contract can turn to be a hectic endeavor most especially when you want it to fit the contracted needs, operating processes as well as goals of your firm. Be informed that in addition to these two options, hybrids and combinations can also be an ideal alternative.

Fixed Price vs. Time and materials

time-and-material-contractsFixed price agreement refers to a single- sum contract whereby the service provider is supposed to complete the project assigned using the amount set in the agreement. This option is recommended especially when the requirements specifications as well as rates can be predicted or figured out easily. The client is supposed to provide his/ her own views so that developers can offer services and/ or products that will suit his or her own needs in the long run.
The various circumstances that makes fixed price contract appropriate include:
*When handling small tasks having limited project scope
*When on a limited or fixed budget
*When you are offered clear requirements and on set deadlines

Time and material contract is whereby actual work done payments are based on hourly rates. In addition to sorting out costs of materials, customers are entitled to pay service providers based on amount of time spent on a particular project. Consider using time and material contract when under any of the following circumstances:
*The scope of the project is not determined properly
*In case your project is a long term one and is accompanied by dynamic requirements
*You are in need of flexibility in order to vary the workloads or modify the scope of the project

Pros of Fixed Price Agreement

#1: Predictability
Fixed price agreement is an ideal option especially when the project is a predictable one. This option provides clients with time to set clear deadlines and figure out the exact amount to be utilized on the task to be completed.

#2: Transparency
With pre-arranged deadlines, fixed budget as well as specified requirements set, the project will be handled as agreed with no possibility of being misled or conned by the service providers.

Cons of Fixed Price Agreement
#1: Lack of Flexibility

This form of agreement will make you liable for any emergent situations in case they arise.

Pros of Time- and- Material Agreement

#1: Flexibility
This form of agreement allows clients to change or modify the project at hand as they desire.

#2: Better Timing
Choosing time and – material agreement over fixed- price will assist you save time and consider the project to be completed within the shortest time possible.

Cons of Time- and- Material Agreement

#1: Poor Budgeting Plan
If you’re not careful, the entire cost for the project may end up rising beyond what you initially had budgeted for.

Bottom Line
Ensure you carry out your home work first and put into consideration the various demerits and merits associated with these price contract options before deciding which one to liaise with. The advantages of time and material contracts are worth comparing to those of a fixed price agreement.