- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 22 Mar 2019
Programme float for construction projects
The concept of float (or 'slack') is used to describe the amount of time that an event or activity can be delayed without delaying the overall completion of the works. Float is calculated by subtracting the time necessary to perform a task from the time available to perform it.
Identifying float can be helpful allocating resources, where priority can be given to activities with less available float.
There are two important types of floats: total and free. The total float, Hij for activity (i,j), is the difference between the maximum time available to carry out the activity (Lj-Ei) and its duration (Dij); it represents the maximum amount of time the start date for the activity can be delayed, in relation to the early start without delaying the completion of the whole project:
Hij = Lj - Ei - Dij = Iij - Ei = Lj - Tij
In terms of the free float, it is assumed that all activities start as early as possible. In this case the free float, Fij for activity (i,j), is the excess of time available (Ej-Ei) over its duration (Dij); it represents the delay allowed for an activity without holding up the early start date for the initiation of another activity. An activity which has a positive total float may also have free float, but this can never be greater than that shown below:
Fij = Ej - Ei - Dij
NB The term ‘activity float’ refers to ‘the duration contingency directly related to a single activity built into the planned duration of that activity. Activity float is established simply by dictating an activity duration that is greater than the actual time needed to complete that activity.’ Ref Society of Construction Law Delay and Disruption Protocol, 2nd edition, February 2017, published by the Society of Construction Law (UK). https://www.scl.org.uk/resources/delay-disruption-protocol
Float is generally considered to be positive rather than negative (unless stated otherwise).
Negative total float refers to the time by which the duration of an activity or path has to be reduced in order to permit a limiting imposed date to be achieved. Negative float only occurs when an activity on the critical path is behind programme. It is a programming concept, the manifestation of which is delay. Ref The Society of Construction Law Delay and Disruption Protocol, 2nd edition, published in February 2017 by the Society of Construction Law (UK).
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Contractor's master programme.
- Critical path method.
- Fast-track construction.
- Gantt chart.
- Information release schedule.
- Logic links.
- Precedence diagram method.
- Progress of construction works.
- Project crashing.
- Resource leveling.
- Scheduling construction activities.
- Time-location chart.
Featured articles and news
1 minute read.
An alternative to secondary ventilation stacks in tall buildings.
How to deliver the infrastructure the country needs.
Protecting employees from hearing damage.
One of the largest office buildings in the world.
Who holds the risk for COVID-19?
Insights from New York.
A quick introduction to a very complicated subject.
CIOB suggests the economic reach of construction is double the official figures.
The first US building to achieve BREEAM Outstanding In-Use.
70 buildings from 70 years of Concrete Quarterly. Book review.