It’s often said that with large construction projects, delay-related disputes are inevitable. Situations that are beyond the control of the contractor(s) do arise and cause delays, but the tips below will minimize the risk of a project dragging on past its originally projected completion date.
1. Complete the submittal process on time. Paperwork can and will hold up a project. The submittal process is the stage at which materials are proposed, approved, and ordered. If the entire project team is not behind the process from the beginning, the materials won’t arrive on time and delays will result.
2. Discuss any project changes/additions up front. There are inevitably changes to any construction project. Have a discussion with your contractors to determine how changes or additions will impact the project’s overall timeline and then communicate with your client. This will ensure that a three-month project will not develop into a six-month project.
3. Develop realistic milestones and contingencies: Schedule disputes often arise because of unrealistic milestones. To make them realistic, each one needs to have sufficient contingency in keeping with the degree of uncertainty. This contingency can be established by asking the contractor to provide an early completion schedule or carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment and documenting the findings.
4. Take a collaborative approach to information management. When all parties involved in a project know what’s going on at each phase, frequent or late changes can be prevented. By establishing a central and collaborative information management system, everyone has access to important documents and correspondence, reducing the likelihood of errors and misunderstandings.
5. Correct and document any logic-based schedule flaws. If you find and correct any schedule flaws, document and explain these changes when you make them. If a dispute makes it into a courtroom, arbitrators and judges will question changes made after construction is complete.
Keeping construction projects on schedule is always a challenge. Delays are expensive financially and in terms of eroded customer trust, so they need to be avoided as much as possible. Although timely performance can be impacted by unpredictable factors such as abnormal weather, other potential issues (poor scheduling, labor or material shortages, and regulatory changes) can be anticipated with proper planning, limiting their ability to take projects off-track.
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