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Florida Construction Law: Dealing With Delays


What do property owners, developers, construction companies, subcontractors, suppliers, consumers and city officials all have in common? No one likes construction delays. There is no doubt about it: these delays frustrate everyone, even parties who are not even really involved in the project itself. For those companies and individuals who actually have money at stake, a construction delay can be devastating.

Yet, they remain a fact of life. With construction projects, particularly large or complex construction projects, all parties involved need to be ready to deal with the possibility of a major delay. Here, our experienced South Florida construction law attorneys discuss legal liability for delays.

There are Two Broad Categories of Construction Delays

From a legal perspective, one of the first issues that must be addressed when dealing with a construction delay is whether or not the delay had a ‘legitimate cause’. Essentially, there are two types of construction delays:

  • Excusable delays; and
  • Inexcusable delays.

The language of these terms is based around contractors. In other words, an excusable delay is one that is not within the control of the contractor, meaning it was not their fault. On the other hand, an inexcusable delay is a delay that was caused because of the bad actions or inactions of the contractor. Depending the specific nature of the delay, the party at fault may be required to pay damages to any other party that sustained financial harm.

The Underlying Contract is Extremely Important

Ultimately, a construction delay is a contract issue. A delay, that occurs because of one party’s negligence, misconduct, or general mismanagement is, by definition, substandard contract performance. As such, depending on the language of the agreement, that party was in breach of the contract, and thus, liable for damages. In many, but not all, modern construction contracts, there are provisions included that call for liquidated damages. This type of contract clause allows the parties to ‘pre-set’ contract damages to add more certainty to an inherently uncertain business.

In construction contracts, typically liquidated damage provisions will call for compensation to be paid at certain rate for each day of inexcusable delay. For example, a liquidated damage clause may order the responsible party to pay $1,000 in damages per day for each day that the delay occurred because of their lack of performance.

Of course, there are often intense disagreements over what exactly constitutes an ‘inexcusable’ delay. Parties may blame each other, a third party or even acts of god. Regardless, assessing who should be blamed for a delay is a very fact specific issue. If this type of dispute has arisen in your construction case,  your company needs to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.

Request Your Free Legal Consultation Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our experienced commercial litigation attorneys have extensive experience handling Florida construction law disputes. For immediate help with your claim, please call us at 561-291-8298 to reach our West Palm Beach office or at 305-985-5281 to reach our newly opened Miami location. We look forward to assisting you.

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