Determining and Documenting Construction Delays

Association of Construction and Development
September 19, 2012 — 1,373 views  

For a construction professional, construction delays can cause time and cost overruns, which ultimately impacts the overall success of a building project. Learning how to determine what construction delays you may face, as well as properly documenting those delays, can help minimize your risk and assure your success as a trusted builder.

Construction delays can be broken down into two categories: internal and external. Internal delays may be caused by you as contractor, the owner of the property, the architect, or anyone else involved in the design of the project. Causes of external delays may include inclement weather, inability to pull the proper permits, building code changes, or suppliers’ inability to provide the appropriate building materials necessary to complete the project.

A well-written contract will define what constitutes excusable vs. non-excusable delays. The contract will also define where responsibility lies for those delays and how delays will be dealt with. In addition, the proposal you submit to the client must be realistic when estimating the cost of materials and the time frame within which the project will be completed as it will be a valuable documentation tool when delays do occur.

Well-written pre-construction documents are essential when identifying the cause of a construction delay. The construction professional may find that the costs associated with the project are higher than expected or the completion date might be set back for the following reasons:

• Poor project management
• Client submits change forms 
• Client chooses alternative building site
• Disagreements between builder and architect regarding materials used or method of construction
• Unforeseen bureaucratic red tape regarding building permits or building codes
• Inability to schedule subcontractors when needed for various phases of the project
• Difficulty finding materials or change in price of materials
• Weather delays

Documenting delays properly is an essential part of keeping disputes to a minimum. Keep all original documents in a safe place, including contract, proposals, bids, materials lists, receipts for materials, and any notes you take regarding the delay. 

Delays should be reported to the owner via written notice. All communications with the owner thereafter should be in writing and properly dated. An open line of communication between all parties involved in the project will assure that once a delay is anticipated, it can be dealt with swiftly before becoming a larger problem.

A seasoned construction professional knows that proper planning before setting foot on the building site is his best assurance for successful completion of a project.

Association of Construction and Development