When can I sue over construction project delays?

Apr 15 2022      On Behalf of  David M. Duree & Associates, P.C.      Blog

Construction projects in Illinois never seem to meet their intended completion date. However, what is the difference between unforeseen delays and those where contractors were negligent in performing their duties? What type of construction delays are open to lawsuits?

Construction delays are fraught with pitfalls

Delay claims are some of the most misunderstood issues in construction law. Contractors must fulfill their obligations even if the construction period exceeds the anticipated completion time. Common reasons for delays include:

  • Site conditions
  • Weather
  • Design changes
  • Unavailable labor, equipment or material
  • Defective specifications and plans

When construction delays occur, you must cover costs like an idle workforce and office overhead. However, to file a claim, the situation must meet several prerequisites. Overall, the delay must be non-excusable. In other words, unforeseen events, like acts of God, do not count. Non-excusable delays are those for which the contractor has assumed risk, including delays that would have been excused but which occurred through the contractor’s negligence.

Additionally, not all non-excusable delays qualify for compensation. Nevertheless, the general rule indicates that if the delay could have been avoided, it may be the subject of a lawsuit.

How can I avoid confusion over my construction project?

One of the best ways to avoid confusion over whether you can sue for a delay is to write specific conditions into your construction contract whenever you commission a new building project. By naming specifics, you’ll have a clear idea of whether the delay qualifies.

Note that many current delays involve the inability to obtain materials and equipment. The contract in question should also include directives regarding subcontractors that your general contractor uses. Contract specifications will help avoid costly lawsuits that can add to your project’s overall cost.