Calculating Delays on Roadway Projects
When you take on a new roadway project, your goal is to stay on time and on budget. However, these big projects can be derailed by delays. You can prevent some of these delays, but others may be out of your control.
When you bid for a job, it is critical that you accurately estimate the funds needed for labor, materials, and other elements. If you misquote a job estimate, the project could be shut down for weeks or months or even canceled. These days, it pays to have an experienced estimator on your payroll and also take advantage of estimating technology. Once the budget is set and available electronically, you can have real-time access to data while the job is underway and see how your crew’s progress is keeping pace with job costs.
During the bid process, you estimate what materials you will need for the project at hand. During that process, you must also ensure that the materials are readily available and can be delivered on time. If you are waiting for asphalt, your project will stall, which is not ideal for you or your crew.
Nothing will make a project screech to a halt faster than broken equipment. If your workers have to stop while machinery is being repaired or replaced, you lose time. And on a roadway project, time is indeed money. Plan ahead for successful projects by maintaining your equipment and keeping it ready for the next job. If you have machinery that is past its prime, make the investment to replace it. Just be sure to do that before you take on the next project.
The most significant challenge in the construction industry is finding adequate skilled labor. When workers were laid off during the recession of 2007–2009, many transitioned to other careers. In the years since, fewer younger workers are choosing the construction industry when they enter the job market. For these reasons, you must make every effort to build a solid, reliable crew. But even with the best-laid plans, you can experience setbacks. Members of your team can get sick or be injured, so you must remain nimble, always finding solutions if some workers are absent.
Effectively allocating your work crew can make or break your roadway construction timeline. Take time to create realistic schedules, and get input from your supervisors regarding which workers are right for which jobs.
As a contractor, you must ensure that all your workers know the project plan and their duties in accomplishing it. If the plan is flawed, work may have to be scrapped and redone. The same is true if a worker misreads the plan. Before a project starts, be sure to review the plan and report any errors or inconsistencies that you see.
Depending on how big your project is, it can be challenging to keep everyone informed, but clear communication is critical. Make sure that your supervisors and subcontractors have access to the plan, as well as to any revisions. If you receive new information from the owner or a subcontractor, be sure to pass along those details.
When coordinating efforts among your crew and subcontractors, explain your expectations ahead of time. Encourage them to collaborate and to sound the alarm if they spot problems.
Although you cannot control the weather, you can likely anticipate it. In colder climates, there may be delays due to snow and ice. In other areas, you can expect daily thunderstorms. When you create the project timeline, take into account these regular weather events and allow yourself some lag time if possible.
You may also experience severe weather events, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters, that you cannot work around. In that case, keep in contact with your customer and make whatever accommodations that you can.
Excusable, Non-excusable, Critical, and Compensable Delays
When you encounter delays on a roadway project, it is essential to understand whether they are considered excusable or non-excusable.
Your contract will probably spell out excusable delays for the project. They may include labor strikes, natural disasters, inaccurate plans, changes initiated by the owner, inaccurate site conditions, and intervention from outside agencies. For excusable delays, you will likely be given an extension.
Non-excusable delays may include substandard work, late performance, late delivery of materials, faulty equipment, everyday weather conditions, and labor strikes due to poor working conditions. For non-excusable delays, you may be instructed to accelerate your work to meet the schedule, and you will have to absorb additional labor costs.
Whether they are excusable or not, you must also assess if the delay is critical, which means it will affect the delivery date. If the delay is critical, it may be considered compensable. That means that the owner is liable for the delay. A compensable delay can result in the owner granting you an extension in the timeline or increased compensation, or both.
If you are experiencing a delay on a roadway project and are unsure if it is excusable, consult legal counsel. An experienced construction attorney can help you assess the situation and advise you of your rights and options.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.