Last edited 07 Dec 2017

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 extensions 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 claims 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:

  • Working overtime.
  • Adding new shifts.
  • Providing additional labour.
  • Additional supervision.
  • Providing additional resources, such as plant and equipment.
  • Re-sequencing work activities (also known as project crashing or fast tracking).
  • Adopting alternative construction methods, such as off site manufacturing.
  • Changing the design or specification.
  • Reducing the scope of the works (for example transferring responsibility for some works from the contractor to the client).
  • Early procurement of key items.

These techniques are likely to result in additional costs and may not guarantee early completion. Whilst 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 on cost, reward, risk and so on.

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

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