A key benchmark for a successful construction project is a completion time that accurately reflects stringent deadlines established in the contract. Unfortunately, unanticipated events may arise that disrupt meticulously planned operations, resulting in costly delays and potential litigation.
Understanding why construction delays occur, and implementing diligent planning and strategic foresight, can prevent project disruptions and safeguard the project’s progression.
8 Common Reasons for Construction Delays
1. Poorly Defined or Changes in Scope of Work
Scope of work documents are developed to keep all stakeholders well-informed throughout the project life cycle. This portion of the contract document should describe the project’s concise size and complexity, and clearly communicate prime goals and objectives.
Failure to develop an in-depth scope of work due to inadequate planning can result in project overruns in terms of both time and money. Insufficient funding, miscalculation of risks, or requests for change made by clients can also alter the scope of work, resulting in abrupt delays.
2. Funding Issues or Budget Conflicts
Financial barriers can cause construction projects to pause as additional funding is sought or projects are modified to accommodate budget conflicts. Negative cash balances due to slow client payments can also force contractors to postpone operations.
Budget conflicts may be inevitable when catastrophic problems arise that significantly exceed the pre-established budget. Obtaining accurate estimates and accounting for potential complications can curtail budget-related delays.
3. Labor Shortages
Many construction companies struggle to find qualified contractors as labor shortages sweep the country. An aging workforce, resignations, rising inflation, restrictions on immigration, and similar factors cause crews to be short-staffed, increasing risks of project delays, safety issues, and lack of quality control.
According to a proprietary model created by Associated Builders and Contractors, the construction industry will need to attract an estimated 546,000 additional laborers in 2023, in addition to normal hires, to meet the growing demand for labor.
4. Unrealistic Project Schedule or Timeline
Contracting companies take extensive precautions to avoid delays when creating a scope of work. Intricate provisions are inserted into contracts that may involve draws or other milestones or time-based payments or timelines. Contracts may also contain penalties, such as withholding of final payments.
Despite detailed precautions, unrealistic project schedules or timelines may not include a margin for unavailability of one trade creating a domino effect of delays. An overestimation of available resources or failure to account for potential risks can extend timelines and put companies at risk for reputational or legal impact.
5. Unforeseen Site Conditions
Poor site management and supervision are leading contributors to construction delays. Discovering unexpected environmental, geological or structural issues during construction can halt progress as solutions are discussed and changes are executed.
Unforeseen site conditions, such as decay, rot, outdated electrical systems, damaged plumbing, or the presence of hazardous materials, can significantly impact a project’s time and cost. These and other complications can incur substantial costs and impede progress.
6. Design Errors or Variation
Project execution is dependent on the clarity of the design. Inaccurate or incomplete design plans can result in time-consuming adjustments, rework, or modifications that cause extensive delays and additional costs during the construction phase.
Achieving a detailed, accurate design that reflects the client’s requirements and meets specified budget constraints and timelines can help deter delays. Effective project planning and monitoring should be a priority in all steps of the project life cycle.
7. Project Complexity
Large-scale commercial construction projects are considerably more complex in comparison to smaller-scale projects, such as residential homes and non-commercial buildings.
Projects with a high degree of complexity may require substantially more resources, manpower and funding. Greater complexity in design plans and schedules can lead to cost overruns and time delays, especially when proper care is not taken to create a comprehensive scope of work.
8. Unforeseen Weather Events
Adverse weather conditions are a primary cause of construction delays, especially in climates prone to heavy rain or snow, or areas highly susceptible to natural disasters. Contracts may warrant a delay or extension due to inclement weather conditions; however, vague contract terms may result in conflict when parties do not agree on what constitutes severe weather.
Several factors may determine the justification of a weather-related delay, such as if the delay reflects the terms of the contract, the weather will directly impact the project, the weather conditions exceed normal activity for the season, or if there is documentation on how the inclement weather may affect the project.
Speak with a Business Attorney About Construction Delay Conflicts
The experienced construction litigation attorneys at KPPB LAW understand the significant impact that construction delays and subsequent litigation can have on large developers and builders.
To help clients avoid and manage claims, we deliver proactive legal solutions that reduce the risks of extended litigation and minimize the loss of time, money and valuable resources needed for successful project completion. Contact the construction law experts at KPPB LAW today to get started.