Concurrent Delays in Construction

Digger loading truck in quarry for a construction project
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Concurrent delays can easily be defined as simultaneous delays caused by the general contractor and the project owner, affecting the project schedule and project completion date. Some others have defined it as "Two or more delay events occurring within the same time period, each independently affecting the Completion Date" and in many instances, your business can be entitled to be compensated to cover extra costs or damages following these type of delays. First of all, let's look at how these delays need to be classified.

Types of Delays

Delays can be categorized into two main areas:

  • Excusable Delays
  • Non-Excusable Delays

Excusable delays occur when the affected party is allowed to claim for a time extension, compensation or both as establish by contract documents. Meanwhile, non-excusable delays are contract related issues that the contractor or party affected will need to bear the responsibility that could be but not limited to cost and time.

Why It Is Important to Understand Concurrent Delays

Concurrent delays are being used more and more by owners as tools to avoid being billed for extended overhead, change orders and similar claims, affecting the project completion date. In the same way, concurrent delays are important for contractors as tools to prevent being penalized by liquidated damages and to recover extra costs associated with the problems or delays. Concurrent delays argument will definitively need the backup of a good current construction schedule that will demonstrate how they were affected by owner decisions or supplied equipment. 

How to Identify Concurrent Delays

Concurrent delays can occur when a single activity affects the critical path of a construction schedule. When a decision either by the contractor or owner, affects a line item, or multiple items, then it is considered a concurrent delay but only when they are in the critical path of the schedule, so be careful when reviewing these activities.

The most common type is when multiple activities are caused by the owner and the other one related to the contractor affects the critical path of a construction schedule. For example, when a contractor experience some sort of delay on an activity that should have started and that activity is linked to an owner related activity that also is delayed, then we could have concurrent delays. 

One key thing that most owners try to use, is to ask all contractors to procure and supply their own material and take care of permitting to avoid being in a position that might bring up concurrent delays.

How a Contractor Claims Concurrent Delays

It is very important, in order to demonstrate a concurrent delay, to maintain an updated construction schedule each week that could be compared against the baseline schedule or contract schedule. Concurrent delays are normally preceded by the following: against the baseline schedule or contract schedule. Concurrent delays are normally preceded by the following:

  • Updated construction schedule
  • Notices of delay to the owner
  • Notices of claims as established in contract documents
  • Submit and request a formal response from the owner related to the areas of discussion

Contractors shall educate their workers so they are fully familiarized with contract documents, and procedures to submit change orders and claims. It is also important to have all the decisions and instructions from the owner in writing. But most important of all, meet contract timelines and submit all notices within the acceptable time frame as established in contract documents.

Concurrent Delays From an Owner's Perspective

From an Owner's standpoint, concurrent delays are ideal as this will prevent them to pay for change orders and extended overhead claims. However, the project owner needs also to understand all contract language in order to be protected by these types of claims. The owner must be sure to:

  • Include clear language regarding contract changes and excusable event notifications on their contracts.
  • Provide guidance to their team members on timelines and how to manage claims and notices from the contractor.
  • Understand the change order scope and time impact analysis before executing a change order or change directive.