International research into the causes of delays on construction projects
See also: Delays on construction projects.
Delay in construction was described by Salunkhe and Patil (2014) as, “the time overrun either beyond completion date specified in a contract, or beyond the date that the parties agreed upon for delivery of a project”.
Vyas (2013) stated that delay causes stress to project participants who tend to negate the effect of the delay either by accelerating the work process or by extending the project duration (Aibinu and Jagboro 2002). However, this is not without consequences, with impacts including; cost overrun, dispute, arbitration and litigation and even total abandonment (Salunkhe and Patil 2014; Aibinu and Jagboro 2002).
Delay is very common in construction projects across the world (Assaf and Al-Hejji 2005; Choudhury 2004) and is recognised as a global phenomenon occurring both in developed and developing countries (Salunkhe and Patil 2014). In the United Kingdom, the National Audit Office (2001) found that seventy percent of government construction projects experienced delay. Similarly, Assaf and Al-Hejji (2006) in their research found that about seventy percent of the projects in Saudi Arabia experienced time overruns, and this is supported by other reports from around the world (Aibinu and Jagboro 2002; Odeyinka and Yusif 1997).
 International research
Researchers have identified a number of factors causing delays common to projects regardless of type and region.
Odeyinka and Yusif (1997) argued based on their research in Nigeria that causes of delay resulting from participant behaviour included; variation orders, slow decision-making, financial issues, material management problems, planning and scheduling problems, inadequate site inspection, equipment management problems and shortage of manpower. They also identified factors that cause delay that were not caused by the project participants, including; inclement weather, acts of god and so on. Similar causes of delay were identified by Odeyinka and Yusif (1997), Zayyana et al. (2014) in their research in Malaysia. Kaming et al. (2007) identified corresponding factors in Indonesia and so on.
Assaf et al. (2006) in their research in Saudi Arabia identified eight common factors causing delay, including; design changes, delay in drawings, slow contractor’s pace, poor relationships between the project participants, financial issues, slow decision-making and labour issues.
Sambasivan and Soon (2006) research into construction projects in Malaysia identified lack of communication, equipment availability and failure, inadequate contractor’s experience, labour issues, poor site management, material shortage, planning and scheduling problems and inadequate finance. Kaming et al. (2007) in Indonesia, Ubaid (1991), Al-barak (1993) also identified these factors.
Vyas (2013) in his research on construction projects in India identified safety, equipment and daily targets as some of the factors that caused delay. Likewise Al-Momani (2000) on his research in Jordan highlighted the main causes of delay as; design variation orders, weather, site conditions, late deliveries, financial issues and increases in quantity.
Noulmanee et al. (2000) investigated delay factors on highways construction in Thailand and concluded that the main causes were; inadequacy of sub-contractors, organisations lacking sufficient resources, incomplete and unclear drawings and deficiencies between consultants and contractors.
Chan and Kumaraswamy (1997) argued that the five principal and common causes of delays were; poor site management and supervision, unforeseen ground conditions, low speed of decision making involving all project teams, client-initiated variations and variations. Similarly, Odeh and Battaineh (2000) identified; owner interference, inadequate contractor experience, financing and payments, labour productivity, slow decision making, improper planning, and subcontractor performance.
Other research includes Ellis and Thomas (2002) on Highway construction in USA, Sun et al. (2004) on construction projects in the UK, Koukshi et al. (2005) on residential projects in Kuwait, Motaleb and Kishk (2013) on construction in UAE, Yang (2010) on construction projects in Taiwan, Kaliba et al (2009) on road projects in Zambia, Long (2008) on construction projects in Vietnam, Ahmed et al (2003) on building projects in USA, United Nation Development (2010) on construction projects in Iraq and Tumi et al (2009) on construction projects in Libya.
It is apparent that the causes of delay in construction revolve around certain universal factors:
- Design changes.
- Financial issues.
- Variation orders.
- Slow decision-making.
- Planning and scheduling problems.
- Material management problems.
- Poor site inspection.
- Shortages in labour.
- Delays in drawing.
- Slow contractor’s pace.
- Relationships between project participants.
- Unforeseen conditions.
- Design errors.
- Inadequate contractor experience.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Compensation event.
- Concurrent delay.
- Construction disputes.
- Delay on construction projects.
- Dispute resolution.
- Extension of time.
- Modernising construction.
- Lead times.
- Liquidated damages.
- Loss and expense.
- Programme for building design and construction
- Relevant event.
- Relevant event v relevant matter.
- Relevant matter.
Featured articles and news
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency..
1961 saw the publication of three important books about urban design that remain relevant today.
Next week the planning fee increases by 20% and new fees are introduced.
How the transformative power of BIM and other digital technologies can be used to gain a competitive edge.
Relevant events and relevant matters are terms used in some contracts, but knowing the differences is important.
Government release statistics showing how many people are now on the property ladder due to Help to Buy schemes.