The Corona virus AKA Covid-19, has increased claims for time-extensions in construction projects. Contractors, suppliers, vendors and manufacturers are claiming short staffs; material and equipment manufacturers are claiming low supplies, and due to people now working from homes, many vacant buildings are creating increased demand for renovation work. All lead to the generalized contractor’s statement: “we won’t meet the deadline because of Covid”. Claiming “Covid” is not a magic wand for contract extensions, however there are circumstances where it may impact schedules. If so, how should these be managed? One, by keeping accurate delay-related project records. These are essential to resolving delay claims to avoid severe financial consequences if a contractual completion date is not achieved.

The most important item in delay analysis is the original project schedule. Great care must be taken to properly coordinate the activities and durations with contractors and subcontractors. The SSC Uniform General and Supplemental Conditions (UGSC) Article 9.6 requires the contractor to submit an original schedule as well as updates to the schedule at appropriate intervals. It is difficult to analyze delay claims if the schedules are not accurate and regularly updated. The project manager must insist on receiving the original schedule before construction begins, require timely schedule compliance updates, and prompt updates if there is a deviation from the critical path of the original schedule.

The UGSC allows claims for Force Majure when the delay is beyond the contractor’s control. If the delay qualifies, the contractor must show the impact on the substantial completion date and how the contractor adjusted activities to minimize the delay’s impact. To support a request to delay the project’s schedule, the contractor must demonstrate the planned activities that could not take place and the steps to effectively perform the work as soon as possible.

If a contractor states a need to extend the schedule for any qualified reason, the contractor must submit a change order request. Be aware when considering the impact of change orders to a project, contactors often forget to identify the days that should be added to the schedule due to a change order request.

Another consideration is the timing of the claim of the delay. Failure to raise the delay concern right away is a common problem. The UGSC Article 9.9, requires written notice of the claim within 5 days of the events giving rise to the claim. This by the way includes, weather delays.

Lastly, the contractor should also be aware of providing notice to the correct person. The agreement between the parties identifies the person to receive formal notices and the manner of providing the notice.

Project managers can eliminate much of the complexity of delay impacts by closely monitoring project schedules, requiring accurate schedules showing the impact to the critical path to support timely delay claims and ensuring thorough documentation of the project.

Note: Adapted from “Delay Evaluations & Claims Pitfalls” by Joshua Levey, ENR Engineering News Record August 3/10, 2020, Page 35, Print

By Bob Casagrande

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