Board-Certified In Construction Law By The Florida Bar

Defenses to contractor construction delay claims

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2021 | Construction Law

When a site owner or developer begins a construction project, agreements with contractors will likely specify completion dates for various stages of the project, as well as a final completion date for the project. However, delays occur frequently in the construction industry. Construction delays can be caused my multiple parties (e.g. owners, contractors, designers), can occur for a variety of reasons, including changes to the scope of the work, defective workmanship, poor time management, weather, and financing issues.

Contractors may file a claim against a project owner to recover damages for additional time and costs incurred due to project delays. A Fort Lauderdale construction law attorneys may defend owners against construction delay claims filed by contractors on the project by utilizing one or more of the following defenses:

  • ‘No damages for delay’ clause in contract – The contract may specify that contractors cannot recover monetary damages for delays that occur.
  • Failure to provide notice – Contractors failed to provide proper notice when filing their delay claim.
  • Delay did not damage critical path of project – The critical path of a project consists of the longest ‘sequence of tasks’ required to complete the project from start to finish. If the delay did not affect the total duration of the project, the owner may not be liable for damages.
  • Concurrent delay – When more than one delay occurs during the same time period, impacting the completion of the project, the contractor may not recover damages if they were responsible for one of the delays.
  • Excusable delay – Unforeseeable delays (e.g. weather) are typically unavoidable and therefore will be classified as an excusable delay. If the owner did not have any control over the delay, the contractor may not be entitled to damages.

Owners may not be able to meet agreed-upon project deadlines from time to time, but that does not mean they are always liable for contractors’ damages caused by these delays. An attorney can help defend you and your company against construction delay claims.