The word “delay” is an all too familiar word utilized during construction because it is not remotely uncommon for a construction project to experience delays. While contractors never want a delay to actually happen because time is money, delays unfortunately do happen as construction schedules are not written in stone.
There are two types of delay: (1) avoidable delay and (2) unavoidable delay.
Avoidable delay is the type of delay that contractors never want to hear. This is the delay solely caused by them and may trigger the owner’s assessment of liquidated damages. Not only this, but this type of delay will not entitle the contractor to additional time or compensation. Why? Because again, the delay was caused by the contractor, hence the reason why it is the type of delay a contractor never wants to hear!
Unavoidable delay is not the fault of the contractor and is the type of delay that will entitle the contractor to additional time, additional compensation, or both. Unavoidable delay is further broken down into (a) compensated delay (entitling the contractor to additional compensation and time) and (b) non-compensated, unavoidable delay (entitling the contractor to additional time, but not additional compensation).
Unavoidable, compensated delay is a delay solely caused by the owner or its consultants, not caused by the contractor. This is the type of delay that should entitle the contractor to additional time to substantially complete the project and, based upon the contract, additional compensation in the form of extended general conditions. This type of delay could be the result of owner-directed changes, differing site conditions, design revisions, suspension of performance, i.e., actions that are outside of the contractor’s control but within the owner and its agents’ control.
Unavoidable, non-compensated delay, on the other hand, is typically a delay including unusually severe weather conditions, fire, or labor strikes—these are the types of delays that are beyond any parties’ control in the construction process, which is why the contractor would be entitled to additional time, but not additional money.
The key to managing these types of situations and even avoiding them is communication. A fully engaged general contractor communicating with owners, subcontractors and suppliers can eliminate the fear of delays. Something we take pride in.