A number of families will be traveling this holiday weekend, and some are travel-savvy enough to check out travel websites like www.911.Virginia.org for real-time traffic information and identification of construction delays. When savvy contractors face delays on a project, they immediately take steps to provide notice, document, evaluate and plan for recovery from those delays.It almost goes without saying that if you have to pursue or defend a delay claim, you are going to need some evidence (whether by expert or otherwise) to establish or to challenge entitlement to the damages sought. And we all know that there can be different routes to the same goal. However, the different methods of schedule analysis can lead to varying results. So, which method is correct? In a great Construction Law International article by my friends Don Gavin and Rob D’Onofrio, the authors suggest a series of best practices that should improve on the reliability of schedule analysis and increase its acceptability in the industry. According to the article, there are eight guidelines that any schedule delay analysis comply with, including:
- Compare the planned work before and after each delay. Practically, this means that you should compare the plan to perform the remaining work before each delay and the plan to perform the remaining work after that delay, which will require a review of the schedule updates during the project. This will also involve looking at the estimated impact, as well as the actual impact, of the delay.
- Identify the critical delays. Generally, the delay must affect the critical path of the work to be compensable. If the delay absorbs the “float” in the schedule, then it is not compensable. According to the authors, “If an activity does not have any float, by definition it is critical as it would impact the required contract completion date.”
- Evaluate the delays in both a chronological order and a cumulative manner. If you do not look at the delays in sequence, it can “mask” what actually occurred on the project.
- Adjust the completion date to reflect excusable delay as it occurs. This will assist in finding the actual float values and determining which activities are actually critical at any point during the project timeline.
- Include accurate as-built information. Again, it is important analyze the actual progress of construction, which can best be achieved through accurate as-built data.
- Minimize projected future delays. If you include projected future delays in the schedule, they should be minimized because projected delays can alter float calculations and possibly change which activities are critical.
- Correct any logic flaws. If you correct any logic flaws found in the schedule, make sure to document and explain the changes at the time they are made. Understand that judges and arbitrators can be skeptical when substantial changes are made after construction is complete.
- Tie causation to each delay. Ultimately, you will have to show whether the delay is non-excusable, excusable/compensable, or excusable/non-compensable.
Using these guidelines, any contractor can begin to evaluate and prepare a potential delay claim as the conditions on project causing the delay occur. If the claim turns to a dispute, you will have done a significant amount of preliminary work that an attorney and/or consultant will need to assist you in the claim.
Question: What other best practices can you identify for putting together a delay claim?