July 11, 2023

Construction project delays: How to prevent them and action to take if they occur

It is common for construction projects to sometimes take longer than expected. However, this does not avoid the fact that delays can prove to be costly and potentially damage your business’ reputation.

It is important for companies to prepare sufficiently to mitigate these almost inevitable delays and prevent extra costs and reputational damage where they can.

Contract preparation

One of the primary methods to avoid delays will come about at the start of a project and is when the contract is drafted.

A well-prepared contract will provide the groundwork for a much-reduced chance of project delays. The contract should clearly describe the project and the deadlines that need to be worked to. It should also underline any fines if the work is late and what would happen if any changes or unexpected issues arise.

The contract should also plan out the project in as much detail as possible, including mentioning important goals and the order of tasks and when these tasks should be done by. Outlining a detailed plan ensures that all stakeholders are aware of what is required of them.

Risk assessment

Assessing the risks involved in a new project is also important. Possible problems should be identified early on, and a decision should be made on who would handle them. A solid plan for managing risks can avoid arguments and potential delays from the fallout.

Stakeholder knowledge

Additionally, businesses should have a good knowledge of all stakeholders involved in the project. A knowledge of everyone involved can help identify possible issues, such as if they don’t have sufficient experience to carry out the job competently.

Planning for disputes

Arguments during a project can occur, so a plan should be in place for handling disagreements. This can save time and money if a problem does come up.

Action to take if delays occur

Despite the best-laid plans and a solid contract in place, delays can still occur. In these scenarios, you will need to consider what action to take. This will all depend on the length and nature of the delays and how costly it has impacted your business.

The contract originally signed will give you options if such delays occur. These could include, extensions of time, claims for loss and expense, and/or seeking damages for delay if it is contractor delay.

Most standard form contracts also include the ability to claim extensions of time, if the delay is a result of a change and in certain circumstances the ability to claim loss and expense that has been caused by any delay.  The contract will likely have a mechanism as to how changes to the scope or applications for extensions of time and loss and expense are to be dealt with.  Often the contract imposes obligations on contractors to take certain steps within certain timeframes.  Not all delays will allow an extension of time or loss and expense, and in those cases an employer may seek damages for delay, however, in some cases you maybe entitled to time but not additional money, or in some cases both time and additional money.

As such it is essential that you understand your contract and the rights and obligations contained therein.

Mediation and arbitration

If an argument is causing the delay and the plans in your contract do not resolve them, then mediation or arbitration might be an option. These methods are cheaper and quicker than going to court and help get the project running again faster.

If all else fails, you may need to go to court. At Palmers Solicitors, our construction law experts can help you take action when you are facing project delays, be it through mediation or court. Please contact us today for more information.