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When may construction delays lead to lawsuits?

Some construction agreements may define project scopes and provide milestones for completing builds. The American Bar Association notes that an agreement could include provisions for excusing delays outside of a developer’s control.

Inclement weather conditions, for example, can create hazards that make it risky for contractors to work. Under such circumstances, stopping construction avoids accidents and injuries. Natural disasters or unexpected government shutdowns could also hinder progress or lengthen a project’s timeline.

What are concurrent delays?

Contracts that differentiate between excusable delays and non-excusable delays may clarify when projects have stopped because of concurrent delays. As described on the ABA website, concurrent delays refer to both excusable and non-excusable delays taking place at the same time.

Certain non-excusable delays, such as failing to buy building supplies, may become excusable delays when the project’s path or scope changes. Contractors may have also had to wait to purchase materials because of a stalled supply chain. To pursue a breach of contract suit, the combination of excusable and non-excusable delays affecting a construction project must qualify as a critical factor in its completion.

What could help avoid breaches?

As described on the NDSU.edu website, parties have the responsibility of resolving their differences before filing lawsuits. With excusable delays, for example, parties may agree on accepting payments for partial performances. Parties may also revise or rescind their contracts if certain events occur.

If you or another party anticipate construction delays, your contract may specify how to alter your plans or seek relief. Terms may, for example, include remedies based on the time from when a project stopped to when it resumed. By setting predetermined milestones and completion dates, you could determine if a breach resulted from a non-excusable delay or a failure to perform.