On time and on budget?

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Delays in the construction industry seem to be the rule rather than the exception. And they are costly to all stakeholders. Not only do they incur time and cost overruns, they result in disputes, arbitration and litigation, and even abandonment of the project by the contractor. Clients loose revenue from lease income and interest on loans.

A Canadian report ranked work delays 4th in their list of critical trends crippling the construction industry (Empire Research Group Inc. 2010). And in a 2011 US construction industry survey, 84% of the respondents reported delayed project completion, with an average of one quarter of large infrastructure projects affected.

Frequently delays are the result of poor planning on the part of one or more of the stakeholders. The common perception is that contractors view change orders as an opportunity to recoup lost profits, but in the end, changes usually lead to claims, which are costly for everyone concerned.

There are several possible causes of delay that are beyond the control of the project team. These include unexpected site conditions, severe weather, strikes, natural disasters, and even acts of municipal and government authorities.

Still, the list of delay causes that can be attributed to human error is long. These include excessive design changes, defective or insufficient plans and specs, as well as contractor management and performance issues, including failure to plan ahead in terms of resources, manpower, materials and equipment.

Planning at every phase of the project, particularly early design and constructability reviews by all stakeholders and accurate schedule development, is critical to minimizing delay and cost overruns.

When a delay does occur, the first step is to duly notify all parties in accordance with the contract.

The next step is to attribute cause.

If you’re the contractor, you’ll turn to your project records. Your project manager and site superintendent will have recorded all manner of data relating to weather, staffing, resource use, work accomplished, inspections, accidents, material delivery, change orders and schedule updates. Or not.

In fact, equivalent records can be found in a range of media. Site diaries, photos, notes and minutes from progress meetings and progress reports, even invoices, can be compiled to reconstruct the event(s) in the form of a detailed as-built bar chart or schedule.

The third step is to choose the type of analysis that best suits the data, but that’s another story!

Posted in: Delay Claims