Deferment of possession
Contracts generally grant the contractor exclusive possession of the site until practical completion when a handover meeting takes place and possession reverts to the client (see handover to client). The contract may state the date for possession of the site by the contractor (sometimes called the 'commencement date'), or, if not, then the site must be handed over to the contractor within a reasonable time after signing of the contract.
Some contracts (such as the JCT Standard Form of Building Contract) will entitle the client to defer giving the contractor possession of the site for a period of up to six weeks unless a shorter period was stipulated in the contract particulars (it is probably unwise to reduce the period). This provision enables the client to defer possession without being in breach of contract.
It is considered that deferment of possession is a positive activity which the employer should signal by giving written notice although that is not expressly stated.
Deferment of possession can be considered a relevant event, giving rise to the possibility of the contractor claiming an extension of time or loss and expense. However, for such a claim to succeed, the deferment must have a material effect on the regular progress of the works. Obviously, deferment will have an immediate effect on progress, however, it does not extend the contract period, it simply moves it in time with dates for possession and completion which continue to have the same relationship to each other.
If the contractor is given early notice of deferment, they are likely to incur far fewer costs than if the deferment is only notified a few days before start on site. Issues that might be considered include:
- Plant hire.
- The possibility of using operatives elsewhere.
- Delivery dates
- Key dates for sub-contractors
- The possibility of increased costs and interest charges.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
An Arc de Triomphe for the late-20th century, the La Grande Arche of Paris.
Richard Hayward of Legrand asks whether technology could help developers meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.
Thomas Heatherwick's ambitious steel structure begins construction.
The principles, practice and formwork of one of the most important components of modern architecture.
New report claims that inappropriate standards and regulations are holding back the use of composites.
The global smart homes and smart light commercial market will grow fastest in the UK.
Have a look at our article explaining the different types of construction contractor.
Futurist Thomas Frey explores the concept of Disposable Housing - could it be a reality sooner than we imagine?
ICE to host new exhibition offering a window onto the civil engineering achievements beneath our feet.
Do you know all the various types of defects in brickwork?
US museum reveals plans for an installation made entirely of paper tubes.
Review of a book looking at how contemporary architecture found its expression within neoliberal capitalism.
The Great Mosque of Djenne, the largest mud-brick building in the world.
Amanda Clack, RICS President offers recommendations to government on Brexit and the construction skills shortage.