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Addressing the issue of delays in construction contracts, disputes, P.3

We’ve been looking at the issue of delay in construction projects, particularly how delays are to be handled under a construction contracts. Picking up where we left off last time, concurrent delays are another issue that should be dealt with in construction contracts. Concurrent delays are those for which there are two or more potential explanations for the cause of the delays, including actions or omissions of both the property owner and the contractor.

Although the courts have established basic rules for handling concurrent delays, applying these rules is not always easy and requires careful attention to the facts of the case. Answering the question of who is responsible for concurrent delays is not always easy. Another important issue is float apportionment. 

Float apportionment refers to the issue of who is responsible when multiple delays in secondary construction tasks result in an overall delay in a project. This can happen even when reasonable float time is built into each phase of the project. Parties are free to use up established float time, of course, but when they delay beyond what is available for float time, problems can arise. Again, major costs can result when there is an overall delay in a project, and determining who is responsible for those costs is an important issue. Construction contracts need to address how to determine float apportionment so that the question is not a difficult one to answer in the event of a major delay.

Several other issues that need to be thoroughly addressed in construction contracts are: acceleration of the project timeline by the property owner and other changes in the project order, disruption of labor efficiency for the contractor, and the method of proving delays. Again, each of these terms needs to be thoroughly considered and carefully negotiated prior to beginning work on the project. Working with an experienced attorney helps ensure a party’s rights are effectively represented and protected throughout the process. 

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