Two of the main causes of cost “blowouts” on construction projects in Florida are delays and extra work requests.
These are quite common and happen for a wide variety of reasons but the outcome is generally the same: wasted time, increased costs, considerable confusion, and finger-pointing.
The party who is allegedly responsible for these issues may be at risk of breach of contract and a legal claim may be filed.
If you are an owner, contractor, or design professional facing claims related to delays or extra work, the construction claim attorneys at Bennett Legal Group in Maitland can advise on the next steps and represent you.
What causes construction delays?
In Florida, construction project delays are categorized according to whether or not they resulted from a legitimate cause.
So, we have excusable delays and inexcusable delays.
Excusable delays in construction projects have a legitimate cause and are generally considered normal, unavoidable and/or beyond the control of the owner or contractor. These include:
- Acts of God
- Floods or fires
- Revisions by the owner that impact the project’s timeline
- Unavailability of materials
- Labor disputes (sometimes these may be inexcusable)
- Anything specified in a contract as “excusable”
With the latter, where excusable or inexcusable delays are specified in the construction contract, either party can usually be reimbursed for the delay (by time or money)
If a delay is considered outside of the control of either party, however, both parties generally absorb the cost.
Inexcusable delays result from the action or inaction of one or more parties in a construction project, including the owner. They are avoidable and could have been prevented if more care and attention had been paid.
- Poor site plans
- Poor scheduling
- Sub-standard performance by a contractor/subcontractor
- Avoidable injuries on the worksite
- Mismanagement of the work or construction site
- Negligence of one party (including the owner)
- Action or inaction of the owner
- No valid excuse for delays provided by a contractor
Failure to adhere to an agreed timeline due to inexcusable delays like this can lead to a legal claim whereby the party alleged to be responsible for the delays is required to pay or provide another service to make up for losses.
Damages may include the loss of profitability for an owner (construction delays causing a business to postpone its opening, for instance) as well as losses for liability insurance and equipment rental costs for a contractor.
Concurrent delays where two or more events leading to delays can create major issues (and losses) on construction projects.
If the events involve only one party, that party may be held liable for the entire losses. However, they frequently involve two or more parties and this may lead to disputes that can be challenging to resolve.
In such complex situations, where property owners and/or contractors face delays to project completion and are out-of-pocket because of it, liability can be difficult to determine. It often takes extensive experience to be able to mediate and resolve these disputes without ending up in court.
Sometimes, delays may cause a “domino effect” whereby the contractor must reschedule and re-coordinate with subcontractors, causing delays to multiple construction projects and further complexity.
No damage for delay clauses
Sometimes, contract clauses exist asserting that a contractor is not entitled to recover costs resulting from delays.
In Florida, these may not be enforceable and may not protect an owner from unreasonable delays (caused by their action or inaction).
It’s best to seek legal advice before acting.
How are construction delays proven?
Delays in construction projects are usually proven by showing that there is a delay to the critical path of the schedule, leading to a delay in the “substantial completion date” of the project.
If the substantial completion date is delayed, an owner may claim actual or liquidated damages against the contractor and the contractor may claim for extended general conditions (if the owner is at fault). Regardless proving up or defending against delay claims requires the use of an experienced Florida Construction Lawyer, often in consultation with independent experts.
Extra work claims are common on construction projects and can be caused by many factors. Typically, in Florida, we represent clients involved in claims relating to:
- An owner requesting a modification to a building after the design is “locked in”
- An error or omission in the plans or specifications by a design professional
- The contractor omitting items from the bid
These and many other issues often lead to claims for costs related to extra work.
Legal advice for construction change orders
Frequent construction change orders throughout the delivery process can also have a domino effect, causing delays that affect completion dates and add to the complexity of the situation.
Claims in Florida for construction delays and extra work
Delays and extra work issues are frequent and considered part of doing business in the construction industry in Florida.
When delays are inexcusable and due to the negligence or recklessness of another party, legal issues generally arise – and when unreasonable extra work orders result in serious domino effects, it can lead to claims too.
At Bennett Legal Group in Maitland, our construction delay attorneys and extra work attorneys frequently represent parties in the types of legal matters and claims described.
We also advise clients on risk management strategies and contracts that mitigate the cost of delays.
Bennett Legal Group in Florida represents contractors, design professionals and property owners throughout Florida in a range of construction law matters.
We have extensive experience in construction delay litigation and claims for extra work.
Call us today at 407-734-4559 to arrange a consultation or complete a short form and let us know the nature of your issue.