What are excusable construction delays?

Experienced construction contractors in Colorado can attest to many factors that delay the progress of a construction project. When such a delay occurs, contractors may seek more compensation or additional time from the property owner in order to complete the project. However, whether a contractor receives compensation largely depends on whether the delay is excusable.

FindLaw explains some of the differences between excusable and non-excusable construction delays. In general, an excusable delay is an event that the contractor is not able to control while a non-excusable delay is something that a contractor has assumed the risk of happening. Non-excusable delays are typically accounted for and outlined in the contract before the project starts.

An excusable delay is usually something that was not expected to happen. Unforeseen weather is one such event. Not all weather forecasts provide accurate enough information to prepare for storms or other events, and it is possible for an unexpected storm to damage a construction site or otherwise delay construction work. Similarly, events known as acts of God may delay a project because the contractor could not have anticipated them.

Other excusable delays may include the following:

  • Defective design plans
  • Changes in the design
  • Interference from the owner of the property
  • Unavailable labor or materials

Even if the delay seems to be excusable, there is still room for dispute if the owner of the property believes the contractor should have known there was potential for the delay and did not prepare for it. Sometimes property owners believe a contractor was negligent and did not take appropriate action when needed. In some cases, a contractor was not at fault for a delay, but a subcontractor who worked for the contractor was negligent in its duty.

This article is written to provide general information on construction law and should not be interpreted as legal advice.