By Bruce Jervis
When it comes to extending the performance period for excusable delay, the maxim “better late than never” does not necessarily apply. A project owner has an obligation -- express or implied -- to grant extensions in a timely manner. Otherwise, the contractor may be forced to accelerate its pace of work in an attempt to meet the original contract deadline.
On a recent federal project, the contractor experienced what appeared to be, and was later ruled, excusable delay. The contractor requested an extension of time. The government refused, insisting on compliance with the original contract deadline and threatening assessment of liquidated damages for late completion.
The contractor added equipment and crews. The contractor worked extended hours and paid overtime premiums. Four days before the contract completion date, possibly as a tactic to thwart an acceleration claim, the government granted the requested extension of time. Despite the belated extension, the contractor recovered $1.2 million in acceleration costs.
Have you seen situations where project owners defer granting legitimate requests for extensions of time, hoping to keep the project on its original schedule? Do owners sometimes try to game the system, granting extensions only when it seems to provide a tactical advantage? I welcome your comments.