Do construction delays constitute a breach of contract?

Most construction projects often require developers, general contractors, subcontractors, architects, and engineers to work together to meet the goals set for the project. With so many moving parts, it should be no surprise that delays are common in the construction industry. These delays can cost project owners thousands of dollars and result in construction litigation.

Possible reasons for construction delays

Construction delays can occur for several reasons. While some delays are unavoidable, others occur because of the negligent actions of the parties working on the project. Some of the most common reasons for construction delays include:

  • Inclement weather
  • Labor shortages
  • Project mistakes
  • Poor planning
  • Changes in project scope
  • Underestimated budgets
  • Insufficient resources or materials

Is a construction delay a breach of contract?

If a construction project is not completed by the deadline specified in the contract or within a reasonable amount of time due to a project delay, the project owner may consider suing for breach of contract. However, not all delays constitute a breach of contract. Generally, a party can recover damages for breach of contract if the contract allows for such recovery. If the contract does not address this issue, a party can recover damages following a construction delay if the delay is:

  • Inexcusable: Delays that are unforeseeable or delays that are not the result of either party’s negligence are generally considered excusable and do not warrant damages.
  • Material: Delays that do not significantly impact the heart of the contract are not considered material and do not warrant damages.

If you find yourself in a dispute because of a construction delay, it may be best to consult with a construction litigation attorney. Your attorney can help resolve the conflict and make sure you get the compensation to which you are entitled.