Last edited 02 Mar 2021

Acceleration of construction works


Acceleration is the process of speeding up the work of a contractor so that a particular activity, or the project as a whole, can be completed before the date required under the contract.

Generally, it is the client that requires the acceleration of construction work. A client might require that a building is handed over earlier than is set out in the contract or, where the contractor has been allowed an extension of time, may require completion earlier than the revised completion date. This is referred to as 'directed acceleration'.

Where the contractor incurs additional costs as a result of this sort of acceleration, it can result in a claim against the client. Typically, the contractor does not have to prove the works were actually completed more quickly than originally agreed, just that they made a reasonable attempt to do so and that the attempt resulted in additional costs.

Acceleration of the works may also be undertaken by the contractor voluntarily, if, for example, they wish to move on to another project, mitigate inefficiencies and delays that may have been incurred, or to save on costs. They may also be motivated by bonuses awarded for early completion. However, if acceleration is undertaken voluntarily, the contractor will not be able to claim additional costs from the client.

There are several techniques available for accelerating work:

These techniques are likely to result in additional costs and may not guarantee early completion. While the same number of tasks need to be performed, they are condensed into a shorter period, and so are likely to require more resources. In addition, purchasing costs may be higher due to time pressures, incomplete information and the complexity of managing the interfaces between elements. A greater number of variations are also likely than on a traditional contract.

Options such as working overtime typically result in employees being paid at a higher rate (typically 1.5-2 times the regular rate).

Acceleration is also likely to result in additional risks. If resources are focused on critical-path activities, there is the possibility that non-critical-path activities will be affected. Quality, safety and compliance can be affected, and acceleration can result in an overall loss of productivity, perhaps due to tiredness on the part of workers being required to do overtime, or unfamiliarity of the site and the project on the part of additional workers being brought in.

It is recommended that acceleration agreements are prepared prior to the implementation of acceleration measures to clarify the position regarding factors such as cost, reward and risk.

For more information, see Agreement for the acceleration of construction works.

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