How to Request Time Extensions in Construction Contracts

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Contract time extensions may be requested for a variety of reasons. They are used to demonstrate that delays have occurred in the construction schedule that affect the project completion date. All time extensions are related to delays beyond the contractor’s control, and many involve change order requests. Time extension requests are normally specified in a contract provision and must be made following the steps and documentation requirements defined in the contract guidelines.

Are You Entitled to Claim a Time Extension?

Time extension requests may be considered valid under several different circumstances, but not all reasons for delays are approved for extension. In any case, it is very important to keep records of all changes, documents, emails, and scheduling that can justify your request.

Acceptable Reasons for Extension Requests: 

  • Legal issues are affecting the project’s completion or the contractor’s performance.
  • Long lead items, requested by the owner, have not been received.
  • The owner asks for a delayed start.
  • New or extra work not included in the original scope or contract is requested or required. 
  • Unusual or adverse weather conditions occur. 
  • Sub-surface conditions differing from the plans are encountered. 

Reasons for Extensions That May Be Denied:  

  • Delays caused by subcontractors
  • Insufficient or inadequate workforce
  • Under-performing by the contractor, specifically in procuring long lead items
  • Normal weather delays
  • Insufficient proof or evidence that the critical path method has suffered irrecoverable delays caused by the contractor or their parties

The Process to Request a Time Extension

When requesting a time extension, certain steps must be followed to ensure the extension is approved. In a typical process, the contractor notifies the project manager that an issue might affect the project schedule.

A formal letter is 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 then remits the letter to the project manager for evaluation and approval or rejection. If the time extension is granted, the project manager must answer by written notice, and a change order must be issued. Some contracts specify that time extension requests must be completed within a specific time frame to avoid automatic rejection.

Supporting Documents During the Claim Process

Properly presented time extensions must contain specific supporting information:

  • Notice of specific issue causing delays
  • List of activities from the project schedule that are affected by the delay 
  • Exact amount of time being requested, specifying working days or calendar days
  • Sketches, photographs, or other images illustrating the delay issues
  • Recommendations being given to the contract administrator
  • Description of actions the contractor has taken to avoid or minimize other delays
  • Alternative solutions presented to the contract administrator
  • Communications among the construction team relating to possible delays and problems related to a specific situation

    Additional Items to Consider During the Time Extension Request

    A time extension request letter should be concise and must reference the contract clause that allows the request and provide proof of the delay reasons and a proposed recovery plan. It should also include the damages (if any), the amount of calendar or working days being requested, and the activities that are impacted by the changes. Addition considerations when making the request may include:

    • Calendar days are not the same as working days.
    • Insurances and bonds will need to be re-issued to cover extended periods.
    • Winter days are shorter and typically less productive than summer days.
    • Requested extensions should be sufficient to cover all delays, including additional items that might be affected.
    • 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.

    Sample Time Extension Approval Letter

    A letter of approval for a time extension includes basic contractor and contract information and a clearly defined extension of time. 

    Contractor Name

    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 relevant 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