Addressing Construction Delays Stemming from COVID-19

| Jun 11, 2020 | Construction Law

The construction industry has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid stay-at-home orders, social distancing requirements and the high rate of confirmed cases, construction projects across California have been put on hold.

Now, as states start relaxing confinement orders and people are going back to work, owners, contractors, subcontractors, and customers are determining the extent of delays to construction projects. During this process, there will be a few critical elements to address.

Type of delays

Delays and construction projects often go hand-in-hand. Some delays can trigger legal disputes, while others will not. The distinction will come down to the type of delay and the language in a contract.

Types of delays can include:

  • Excusable and non-excusable delays
  • Compensable and non-compensable delays
  • Critical delays that affect the final date and non-critical delays that do not

Delays related to the pandemic may be excusable, compensable, and critical because they stem from significant events outside of our control. And between the weeks off of work and the fact that fewer people may be on the job at the same time even as work resumes, the delays could be substantial.

Reducing delays

While delays may be unavoidable, there could be ways to reduce the impact they have on a project, depending on the conditions of the contracts in place. Some possible solutions might include:

  • Finding new suppliers if others are unavailable
  • Re-evaluating timeline and project schedules
  • Being judicious with acceleration efforts
  • Communicating anticipated changes with clients

These measures can decrease delays and alleviate frustrations arising from changes to the project.

Contractors, subcontractors, and owners can all be facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19, and those challenges will likely continue, as this article predicts. However, there are numerous existing measures and strategies in place that can help navigate this difficult time, so it is advisable to examine the various options with legal counsel.