How to Request Time Extensions in Construction Contracts

Time Extension and the Construction Contract

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Contract time extensions are based on the ability to demonstrate that delays have occurred in the construction schedule affecting project completion date. All-time extensions are due to delays beyond the Contractor’s control, many of them as part of change order requests. Time extension requests are normally specified in contract’s provision and requesting time extensions should be made following all steps and documentation under the contract guideline.

Are You Entitled to Claim a Time Extension?

Time extension requests are valid due to the following circumstances:

  1. Legal issues are affecting the project’s completion or the contractor’s performance
  2. Long lead items, requested by owner, have not been received
  3. The Owner asks for a delayed start
  4. New or Extra Work not included in the original scope or contract
  5. Unusual or adverse weather conditions
  6. Encountering sub-surface conditions differing from the plans

It is also important to highlight that time extensions will be denied for the following reasons:

  • When the delays claim are caused by subcontractors
  • When there is insufficient or inadequate workforce
  • Underperforming by the contractor, specifically procuring long lead items
  • When the project is affected by normal weather delays
  • When insufficient proof or evidence that the critical path method has suffered irrecoverable delays caused by the contractor or their parties

    It is very important to keep records of all changes, documents, emails, and schedule that can justify your request.

    How is the Process to Request a Time Extension

    When requesting a time extension certain steps must be followed. Otherwise, the time extension might not be approved. Normally, the Contractor should notify the Project Manager, when an issue might affect the project schedule.

    A formal letter must be addressed to the Contract Administrator requesting the time extension and the reasons why those days should be added to the construction schedule.

    The Contract Administrator should then, remit the letter to the Project Manager for evaluation and approval or rejection. If the time extension is granted, then the Project Manager must answer by written, and a change order will be issued. Some contracts specify that time extension requests should be done within a specific time frame, if not; the time extension claim will also be rejected.

    Supporting Documents During the Claim Process

    The time extension when properly presented must contain the following supporting documents:

    • Indicate specific issue causing delays
    • List of activities from project schedule being affected by the aforementioned issue
    • Exact amount of time being requested specifying working days or calendar days
    • Sketches, photographs, or pictures
    • Recommendations being given to Contract Administrator
    • Indicate the actions the contractor has taken to avoid or minimize other delays
    • Alternative solutions presented to Contract Administrator
    • Communications between construction team notifying of possible delays and problems related to a specific situation.

      Additional Items to Consider During the Time Extension Request

      Time extension request should also consider the following:

      • Calendar days are not the same as working days
      • Insurances and other bonds will need to be re-issued to cover extend periods
      • Winter days are shorter or less productive than summer days
      • Be sure that the time extension requested is enough to cover all delays including additional items that might be affected
      • Be sure to understand the changes being proposed and the ramifications of those changes
      • No additional time will be granted for the same item once it has been approved
      • In the case of a continuing delay, only one claim is necessary

      Your letter should be concise and must reference the contract clause that allows the request, a schedule that can prove the delay reasons and the proposed recovery plan.

      It shall also include the damages if any, the amount of calendar or working days being requested and the impacted activities delayed by the changes.

      Sample Letter Approving a Time Extension: 

      The Contractor,

      Contractor Address

      Contract Name

      Contract Number

      Extension of time

      I refer to your extension of time claim dated (insert date of the Claim).In accordance with clause (insert the contract clause) of the General Conditions of Contract, the Principal grants extension/s of time:

      • Insert number of days requested and reasons for the time extension.

      The Contractual Completion Date (as previously extended) was (insert contract completion date including previous time extension approvals). This extension of (number of days) days makes (insert new completion date) the Contractual Completion Date

      Signed by

      Authorized Person