Delays in construction projects may create grounds for a lawsuit. The agreement that contractors sign usually includes a date for the project completion. Not completing the project by the specified date may constitute a breach of contract.
Nonetheless, delays can happen, forcing a contractor to extend the schedule. However, a delay must typically be excusable for it not to violate the contract. Let’s look more closely at this.
Beyond your control
A delay is excusable if it’s beyond the contractor’s control. Examples include labor strikes, weather conditions, changes made by the owner, erroneous specifications, changes in requirements or design and acts of God. Types of excusable delays should be included in the contract.
Any change that is within a contractor’s control or is reasonably foreseeable may be deemed inexcusable. Accordingly, the contractor may be liable for the costs incurred due to the delay.
Always record delays
As a contractor, you should have in-depth records of what happens on the site, including delays. You need to provide evidence supporting the cause and period of the delay and if you can do anything to recover delay damages.
Are excusable delays compensable?
An excusable delay may warrant compensation. For instance, if the project owner delays delivering materials to the site, they should cover the costs of maintaining the idle workforce.
A project owner or another authoritative party asking you to change something you’ve completed may also call for compensation. Contrarily, a delay may be excusable but not compensable — particularly those beyond your and the project owner’s control, such as delays caused by weather conditions.
If a project owner claims you have breached a contract for an excusable delay or you believe they should compensate for a delay, but they refuse to do so, you should know your legal options to protect your rights.