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Options When an Owner Causes Construction Delays


As the adage goes, time is money. This certainly holds true in construction projects, where delays can pose not only a time issue, but significant financial expenditure as well. If managed properly, construction projects are similar to a well-oiled machine, but delays are often seen as a common occurrence in this work. Common delays often manifest as delays in the receipt of raw materials at the construction site, as well as staffing issues from subcontractors. Retaining the services of an experienced Florida delay claims attorney can be crucial to ensuring that the costs associated with any delay is paid by the responsible party. The property owner is not usually assumed to be the source of a delay, but there are some responsibilities and duties entrusted to the owner that must be completed, and the failure to address these aspects may cause a delay in the entirety of the construction project. In such a case, a San Francisco Bay Area contractor has filed suit against the owner for delays caused by the owner’s faulty designs and general unresponsiveness.

Delays which Affect Early Completion of a Project

A unique circumstance that may involve a construction delay attributable to the owner is a construction project that nevertheless is completed early, in spite of the delay. In these cases, it may seem counterintuitive that reimbursement should occur for the delay. However, in these situations, where a contractor can promise that the project will be completed early, and, in fact, does complete the project early, the contractor will usually price its contractual bid in accordance with the early completion date. In other words, the bid price will usually be lower than bids based on the standard completion date, on account of the fact that various costs, such as payroll and insurance, would be reduced because manhours are reduced. When a delay occurs in this situation, there is still a monetary cost, and, as a result, there should still be a recovery of that cost by the responsible party.

Types of Construction Delays Attributable to the Property Owner

Whether the delay affects the early or standard completion of a project, there are typically two categories into which construction delays fall. Inexcusable delays can be attributed to a fault of the Property Owner, whereas excusable delays are attributable to circumstances beyond the contractor’s control. While, in most cases, the responsibility of these delays are attributable to persons or entities other than the owner, the following cases illustrate some of the more common delays that can be attributable to owners:

  • Attempting to fix the problem. In some cases, to avoid cost overruns, the owner will attempt to fix an issue himself/herself/itself without hiring a further subcontractor or relying on the contractor’s counsel.
  • Approving change orders without an understanding of the time and cost. A change order may turn out to be less cost- or time- effective than another change order, and approval without waiting for an analysis may result in a time or financial delay.
  • Improper change orders. In some cases, an owner will submit a change order that, in reality, requires a project cost adjustment. These are done in an effort to sneak in additional work product from the contractor without payment. Similarly, a change order which requires the contractor to finance a large bill may result in delay.
  • Delaying a response to a notice. When given a notice from a contractor, an owner may delay his/her/its response, thus causing a delay.
  • Refusing an extension of time. If an extension is refused, the contractor will necessarily have to spend additional time and money to accelerate the schedule, which can cause a delay in another aspect of the project.

Seek Legal Advice

If you have been involved in a construction delay, and you are curious what you can do to hold the owner accountable for the costs associated, contact an experienced construction law attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Linkhorst Law Firm, P.A. have years of experience in this area of the law, including how to deal with a delinquent owner. Contact our Jupiter office today.


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