Confirmation of Verbal Instruction (CVI) in Construction

Instructing contractors to do additional work verbally is not uncommon in construction projects. However, contractors must have official instructions in order to claim the additional work. Hence, confirmation of verbal instruction (CVI) is commonly used by contractors.

To start, what is confirmation of verbal instruction (CVI)? Confirmation of verbal instruction or CVI is a document submitted by contractors to consultants, architects or clients for re-confirmation of verbal instructions thereby allowing contractors to use it as a supporting document for variation order claims.

Many junior project engineers don’t know about CVI. Hence, they often kept asking the main contractor or consultant to issue an official instruction which may take a long time and cause a delay to the site progress.

How to Use CVI?

When I was working as a project engineer, I received many verbal instructions such as relocating air conditioners, changing trunking material and performing additional tests.

As a fresh graduate, I didn’t know that I can issue a CVI to the main contractor and demand them to sign on it so that I can proceed with the site work and claim the variation later.

Instead, I kept sending emails to the main contractor asking for official instructions which result in me building a bad relationship with the main contractor.

Later, I was told that I can actually submit a CVI for the following agendas:

  • Addition work
  • Omission work
  • Relocation work
  • Material changes
  • Additional tests
  • Redo work

Most project engineers were told to not proceed with any work if an official instruction such as Engineer’s Instruction (EI) is not given. However, many of them were not told to take the initiative to send in CVI.

Without official instructions, it is very difficult for contractors to claim variations. Check out this post to know more about how to claim variation order (VO) in construction Malaysia.

CVI is a very useful tool to speed up your site work progress. Most of the time, a consulting engineer needs a week or two to issue an Engineer’s Instruction (EI) because they need to get approval from the client and their bosses. The bigger the consulting firm, the longer it takes to issue EIs.

So, you can quickly prepare a CVI and send it to the main contractor thereby passing the ball to the main contractor and consultant on any variations.

When to Use CVI?

Generally, you use CVI for minor variations. Such variations should not have a high value. Here is a few examples of when to use and when not to use a CVI:

When to use CVI:

  • Change cable trunking material from metal to hot-dipped galvanized
  • Shift air conditioner position 300mm to the right
  • Change chilled water pipe and valve sizes
  • Change pump head from 10m to 15m
  • Add air curtains at lobby entrance
  • Install new kitchen exhaust ducts

When NOT to use CVI:

  • Change of AHUs and FCUs brand
  • Apply fire rated paint on all smoke spill ducts
  • Omission of exhaust system in genset room
  • On hold ductwork at Level 5
  • Reduce chillers capacity

I hope the above examples give you some insights on when is appropriate to proceed with CVI.

What’s Included in CVI?

A typical CVI has all the basics such as project name, attention to, company name, company address and date. Next, the CVI must have a section that clearly stated when and where is the verbal instruction is given. Then, the verbal instruction given must be clearly written in the CVI.


  • Company details
  • Project name
  • Person in charge
  • Subject
  • CVI reference number
  • CVI issue date

Main Body:

  • Verbal instruction date
  • Verbal instruction location
  • Verbal instruction details
  • Re-confirmation
  • Comment (if any)
  • Signatures, names and dates.

By stating the verbal instruction date and location, you help the verbal instructor to remember what he/she had instructed you to do. As for the details, you should summarize the conversation you had with the verbal instructor.

In addition, including the estimated cost and time implication in a CVI is useful for the verbal instructor to think twice and consider everything before confirming the instruction. Otherwise, your variation claim may be cut by the client through negotiations.

What’s After CVI?

After you’ve submitted the CVI, you’ll need to follow up with the main contractor from time to time. Sometimes, the consultant can take a few days to confirm with their bosses before they reply to your CVI.

Once you receive the replied and confirmed CVI, you should send a letter to the main contractor to request an Engineer’s Instruction (EI) based on the confirmed CVI. Although CVI is usually enough to claim the variation but having an EI is better.

Also, you may proceed to write in your intention to claim an extension of time if the additional work will cause a delay beyond your contract completion date.

Usually, for minor variations, I’ll proceed with a confirmed CVI. But, if a variation is amounting to more than RM10k, I don’t issue a CVI but straightaway go for a letter, demanding an Engineer’s Instruction.

If a variation is high in value, the client may not have enough budget for it. At the same time, the client may not aware of the CVI. However, the client will always be informed of an Engineer’s Instruction (EI) or Architect Instruction (AI).

Hence, it is also a good practice to circulate a copy of the confirmed CVI to the client just to make sure that they are aware of it so that you can avoid future unnecessary disputes and negotiations.


Confirmation of verbal instruction (CVI) is a useful tool to speed up your site progress. People do make a mistake and changes are inevitable in construction projects. Hence, we should do whatever we can to help each other to make things easy so that the project can complete on time.

Many times, consultants do appreciate it when you issue them a CVI. It makes things easier for them as well as for you. However, not all variations must use CVI. Minor variations often can be settled by a simple email.

If you have anything to add (or ask) about this topic, leave a comment down below!

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