Dear Ellen and Portia*,

We had a client that did not specify that they wanted to have a garbage disposal installed in their kitchen, and we did not price or include a disposal. When the owner noticed that a disposal was not installed, they asked that we install one and pay for the materials and labor to do so. Their reasoning was that most homes have disposals and we should have originally included this item.

Merriam-Webster defines betterment as an improvement that adds to the value of a property or facility. The betterment topic sometimes comes up in the process of building. If, during the course of construction, the owner discovers that an item that they thought was in the scope of work is not included, the owner typically requests that this item is added to the work. The builder should respond with a change order or a budget update and the owner should direct the builder to proceed if they see value in the cost of the additional work.

One way to determine if a change in scope is betterment and that the costs for the additional work should be paid by the owner is to ask: would the inclusion of this item have increased the original costs? If the answer is yes, then it is appropriate for the owner to pay for the change.

Please see our letter regarding contract documents for related information.



Randall Lanou
Company Lead


P.S. We truly love The Ellen Fund, set up as a gift from Portia to Ellen, that helps endangered animals. Talk about betterment!

*Full disclosure: not only have we never worked for Ellen DeGeneres or Portia de Rossi, we've never actually met them. Indeed, I'm not sure we've ever been in the same city at the same time. They seem like fun people, though, and we would be happy to build a home for them. If any of you are close friends with them, we would be grateful for an introduction!