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Not all construction delays are created equal

A construction delay is anything that keeps progress on a project from moving forward, especially if it keeps the project or a milestone within the project from being completed on time. Construction delays aren't good for anyone. They hold up resources and payments for contractors and vendors, and they keep project owners from working to earn on their investments.

Multiple parties within a construction project could have a legal claim for the delay of a construction project in some cases. A contractor that experiences damages because a subcontractor held up work could file a claim. A property owner who experiences damages could also file a claim against anyone or any entity believed to be responsible for a damaging delay.

There are several types of construction delays, however, and each type is treated differently by the law. First, there are inevitable delays. Delays because of weather are not the fault of one party, usually, and are expected delays when dealing with any construction project. Second are excusable delays. These delays are either built into the contract or otherwise excusable on the part of the contractor. If an owner actually causes or contributes to the delay, then it could be an excusable delay for the contractor and the contractor might be able to receive compensation through a delay claim because of the delay.

Inexcusable delays are typically those that are not planned for or caused by the contract, and are often because contractors or subcontractors are not meeting the agreements within the contract. In some cases, though, fault for such delays might also be with the owner. Legal remedies for these types of claims include demanding that contractors speed up or work overtime to meet required deadlines or work over the agreed deadline to finish the job. Depending on the nature of the delay, contractors might not be entitled to extra pay for the additional time worked.

The legal remedies associated with construction delays depend heavily on the situation, and both parties in the delay might have a legal stance. This makes it important to seek professional assistance when dealing with construction contracts and delays.

Source: Lorman, "Resolving Problems and Disputes on Construction Projects: Tackling Contract Performance Delays," Nathan Chapman, Lee C. Davis and W. Henry Parkman, accessed March 04, 2016

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