As I wrote last week, construction deadlines and delays are two controversial topics for many involved in a construction project. For commercial clients, construction delays mean extra direct and indirect costs so we should do everything we can to understand them and try to avoid delays.
The best way to avoid construction delays is to have realistic and firm deadlines (for more on setting and meeting construction deadlines, check out last week’s blog post here.). Another way is to learn to identify different types of delays and how to address each one.
Excused delays or force majeure from the French phrase meaning “major force”, are events or circumstances that could not be foreseen or predicted before the parties entered into the contract.
When an excused delay occurs, deadlines get postponed. So there’s usually a lot of discussion on what qualifies as an excused delay. It doesn’t matter on which side of the table you sit; getting very specific about the criteria to qualify an excused delay, the terms and how they can impact – or not – the budget is good business sense.
Anything that the owner changes, reveals itself after the project is underway, or due to another contractor not completing their part in time or making a mistake, can be considered an owner-caused delay.
Owner-caused delays can be tricky. What qualifies as an owner-caused delay is many times up for interpretation, so it’s best to discuss in detail before the project is underway. It’s also a good idea to lay out how different types of owner-caused delays could affect the timeline and budget of the project. This way you can avoid unpleasant conversations down the line when a rusty pipe needs to be replaced or the owner decides that the balcony in the design is more useful as a covered den.
Remember that no matter the type of construction delay, you should always stipulate in the contract that delayed contractors are required to give notice to their counterpart of any delay. And set a deadline to communicate the delay. Failing to properly and timely give a delay notice will often waive the contractor’s right to postpone deadlines and increase the price.
Nearly every project encounters delays. The bigger and more complex the project, the better the odds for longer delays. Nevertheless, hiring a qualified and experienced contractor (such as Eclipse Building) can greatly help your chances of avoiding some delays.