Types of Contractor Delays and the Effect on Liability

The type of delay that a construction project experiences may shift the liability from one party to another such as when the owner causes the delay, he or she may become responsible for damages to the contractor. In contrast, the contractor may cause the delay and then owe damages to the owner based on the circumstances.

Some delays in a contracted project could lead to litigation. These depend on the types, the circumstances and which party, if any, is responsible. If the owner is the person that causes an inexcusable delay, he or she may face litigation from the contractor. However, the reverse is also possible for the owner to collect damages or a remedy for the delay. The type of damages collected also depends on the project and what the person wants. If the delay cannot hold anyone accountable such as unpredictable weather, the delay may push the entire project back, and then no one is usually responsible.

Types of Delays

There are two primary types of delays that cause conflicts. These are the inexcusable ones either the owner or contractor causes and the excusable that no one may instigate. Some delays are either easily-resolved or quickly handled. In these situations, the delay may not even push the deadline further out. Others lead to arguments that could halt the entire production. In some incidents, the courts must decide who is responsible and what party must pay the other or which type of remedy will resolve the situation. It is then important to hire a lawyer and either battle it out or negotiate a settlement.

Delay Disputes

When the owner causes a delay in the contracted project, he or she may start a dispute with the contractor attached to the job. Many of these disputes lead to additional delays if the two parties are unable to continue progress or when the delay is the reason for the conflict and it leads to additional complications. These are best observed in changes to the original design of a project. If the job is to build a home, the owner may want to change the layout of rooms, add or subtract parts of the house or even completely scrap the original design. If the land attached requires modifications as well, the deadline may require many days or weeks added to it.

Other inexcusable or excusable delays are the fault of the contractor. These may occur outside his or her control such as when the workers strike across the town or the materials are no longer available from the same vendor. If the owner becomes argumentative in these instances, this may increase the original delay. Then, conflict may cause both parties to stop any possible communications between each other so that the job cannot proceed without some form of resolution. In many incidents like these, a lawyer must intercede and provide an outlet for contact and continued progress for the project.

Effects in Liability

When the contractor involves the project in excusable delays, such as when weather arises from nowhere or when the third-party vendor is not able to ship or provide the supplies necessary to complete certain rooms or parts of the job, the contractor may not remain liable for the delays. These events are usually within the contract and explain how the company, agency or person is not at fault for the excusable delays caused by unforeseen events or those outside the control of the contractor.

Stipulations for damages often exempt the company or individual from such payable issues.

Inexcusable delays that the contractor either causes or does not prevent may provide the owner with damages or a remedy. In many of these situations, the owner could take the contractor to court and acquire a judgment or settle the matter through legal representation. However, there are some situations that provide conflict resolution through an open dialogue between the two parties. The liability generally rests with the contractor in his or her inexcusable delays, but the owner may require him or her to pay additional expenses or to complete the project as quick as possible. Rather than paying the owner for the complication, the owner of the building may use another type of remedy.

Legal Services with Contractor Delays

The owner of the building may require the services of a lawyer for various reasons. These often start with the contract clauses and end with any disputes between the contractor and the owner that even may lead to litigation.