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Last edited 27 Dec 2019
Time extensions in construction contracts
Construction contracts generally allow the construction period to be extended where there is a delay that is not the contractor's fault. In the United States, this is described as a time extension. The UK equivalent is an extension of time (EOT).
When it becomes reasonably apparent that there is, or that there is likely to be, a delay that could merit a time extension, the contractor gives written notice to the contract administrator identifying the relevant event that has caused the delay. Time extensions are granted based on the contractor being able to demonstrate that the delay was caused by events beyond their control. The contract guidelines typically specify the provision of time extension requests.
There are various circumstances in which time extension requests will be valid, including:
- Delays are caused by the owner changing the design.
- A delayed start to the works by request of the owner.
- Site conditions (e.g. sub-surface conditions) that differ from the project plans.
- Exceptionally adverse weather.
- Variations to the original scope or contract required by the owner.
- Force majeure.
- Legal issues that affect project completion or the contractor’s performance.
- The supply of materials and goods by the owner.
There are various circumstances in which time extension requests will be deemed invalid, including:
- Delays are caused by subcontractors.
- When the workforce is insufficient.
- The contractor underperforms, i.e. by procuring long-lead items.
- Delays caused by normal adverse weather conditions.
- Where there is inadequate evidence that irrecoverable delays have not been caused by the contractor.
In order for a time extension to be granted it is important that the contractor is transparent and communicative in their dealings with the owner and the project team. The project manager must be informed at the earliest opportunity and, if they deem it valid, they will submit a formal time extension request. For further information, see What should be included in a time extension request?
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