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Understanding Delays in Construction Disputes

Burgoyne Law Offices Feb. 16, 2021

When someone commissions you to work on a building for them, they can get upset if you do not finish the work by the agreed deadline. They might withhold payment or try to reduce the amount they agreed to pay you. It is essential to understand that not all delays are equal.

Is It a Critical Delay?

Let’s say a construction company contracts you to install the wiring for a new house they are building. If your delay makes it impossible for them to hand the keys to the person who commissioned the house on time, that would be considered a critical delay. However, if they worked around the issue and still completed it on time, it would be non-critical. It may have caused the builder an inconvenience but did not harm the relationship with their client or anything major.

Is It Excusable?

Why were you late in completing the wiring? Was it because you double booked yourself or forgot you had to do it? Was it because you promised to do it in a week to get the contract, despite knowing it would take at least two weeks? Those would typically be considered inexcusable delays.

Maybe you could not start on time because the builder had not finished the dividing walls. Or perhaps you could not get to the site because a heavy snowfall closed the road. Or you had to redo the wiring halfway through because the customer changed their mind about where they wanted the sockets. All those would typically be considered excusable delays.

Why Does It Matter?

Understanding why a delay happened and what effect it had is essential when dealing with construction delay disputes. It gives you a more solid basis from which to negotiate.