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When can customers sue for delays?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | construction defects

Construction projects are subject to many internal and external factors. Due to this, delays are not an uncommon occurrence. Whether delays are the result of bad weather conditions or supply chain issues, contractors and their clients cannot control every aspect of the project.

Delay issues are very common construction disputes. Therefore, new and experienced contractors alike need to know when their clients may have a reason for a delay claim.

2 particular types of delays that pose a risk

Common obstacles that contractors faced during the height of the COVID-19 global pandemic involved supply chain issues. The lack of materials put various projects on hold across California and the country. This widespread issue was out of contractors’ and clients’ control, meaning they were excusable delays.

However, there are situations when clients may have a claim, including if the reasons for delays are:

  • Inexcusable: As mentioned above, one example of an excusable delay is the disruption in supply chains. Force majeure clauses in contracts also cover many excusable delays – and protect the contractor. However, a customer may have a delay claim for inexcusable delays. If the contractor’s or company’s actions extend the project, it could be an inexcusable delay. For example, if contractors are negligent or fail to follow proper permitting procedures, then a customer may have a legal claim to collect damages.
  • Foreseeable: If the customer argues that a delay was the result of a foreseeable issue, they might also have grounds for a claim. These situations can be rather subjective – and complex. Yet, issues about foreseeability play a large role in many construction disputes.

Delay claims might be common in the construction industry, but a customer’s claim must meet specific conditions to be successful. Contractors should seek knowledgeable legal guidance as soon as possible if facing claims. That way they can protect their bottom line and business reputation.

This also highlights how critical it is for contractors to take extra care in crafting contracts before the project begins. An attorney can also provide counsel on how to establish a protective and effective contract.