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Addressing liability for delays in construction projects

Delays disputes are one of most common contract disputes in construction projects. Depending on the nature and details of the project, and the type and extent of the delay, as well as any remedial measures taken, the costs of delays can be little or great. When the costs are great, parties want to litigate, and rightly so.

When there are delays in a construction project, it is generally delays in the overall project which tend to result in added costs and undesired consequences rather than delays only within particular parts of the project. In other words, if the overall project meets the deadline, delays within the relevant period generally don't result in major damages. There are certain important issues to be considered with construction delays, though. 

Most important to any construction project are the core set or sequence of construction activities required to complete the project. Delays in these activities will result in overall delays unless the contractor is able to remedy the situation. There are certain situations, though, where delays in certain parts of a project have an overall delay effect on the project. Whether an activity belongs to the sequence of a project's core requirements is, therefore, an important question. Also important to determine is whether delays in non-critical aspects of a project have an impact on the project's core requirements, and if so, how much of an impact.

In addressing project delays, it must be determined which party is responsible for the delay, or which party otherwise has responsibility for the delay under the relevant contract, whether the owner or the general contractor. In delay disputes between general contractors and subcontractors, the same question must be asked.

There are different types of delays to take into consideration, and these depend on the terms of the contract. Excusable delays, for instance, are those to which the contractor is entitled under the contract by means of time extensions. Among excusable delays, some entitle the contractor to compensation and some do not. Unexcused delays, on the other hand, are those for which the contractor is responsible.

In our next post, we'll continue looking at this topic, and the importance of working with a skilled attorney to sort out construction delays and other contract disputes. 

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