ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 5 - Issue: 37 - 09/23/2016

A Long Time Coming - A Comprehensive Study and Critique of the MCAA Labor Productivity Factors

By Paul Levin, PSP


The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) has published over the years a series of factors that affect labor productivity resulting from various situational job conditions, such as stacking of trades, weather, overtime and learning curve. The factors have frequently been used by contractors to support loss of productivity (LOP) claims on projects resulting from delays, impacts and acceleration. In response to recent court rejections of use of the MCAA factors to calculate LOP damages, Prof. William Ibbs and Dr. Xiaodan Sun conducted a study to learn why and to make suggestions for improvement.


This is an excellent paper and is very informative. Proposed Improvements to the MCAA Method for Quantifying Construction Loss of Productivity documents the history of the MCAA model, identifies mistakes in its application, and compares the MCAA model with other LOP studies and previous case decisions. The study found that since 2001, only two of nine cases where MCAA factors were used were successful, reversing a trend of five out of five prior to 2000. Having personally witnessed the use and abuse of the controversial MCAA factors over the years, this author finds the Ibbs & Sun paper a welcome relief and should prove its value to the industry.  


Notwithstanding the possibility that boards and courts are using a more stringent standard for proving LOP claims, the paper goes on to identify more specifically the problems with the method, including:

  • First establish causation that an LOP claim exists
  • Temper use of MCAA percentages with professional judgement and employ testimony from fact witnesses as well as experts in LOP claims in general, and MCAA model in particular
  • Use fewer factors than more


The paper also identified several structural problems with the model and includes recommendations there as well. The study noticed vague or duplicative factors and recommends new language for all 16 MCAA factors. The study also offers what it claims to be a better formula for predicting LOP across a range of temperature and humidity values. The report also suggests that the Business Roundtable and other studies offer more realistic multipliers for overtime losses.


The 155-page report is available as a free download at The Ibbs Consulting Group website

This is a definite must for claims consultants, attorneys and those involved in a LOP claim. For construction professionals, this is useful in gaining an overview perspective on project productivity, whether project problems are being experienced or not. It can help project managers and superintendents be aware of productivity issues so that proper notice and documentation are completed as well as implement possible mitigation efforts.


Don't miss upcoming webinars by Professor Ibbs:


Professor Ibbs and Paul Stynchcomb are the co-authors of the 42-page chapter on Impact on Labor Productivity from Claims and Change Orders in the upcoming 2016 edition of Construction Contract Claims, Changes and Disputes Resolution edited by yours truly and published by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Pre-order here. The 500-page book is the course material for the construction claims series noted above.


About the Author 


Paul Levin, PSP, has been involved in the construction industry since 1969 and has worked on major power and transportation projects as well as consulted on dozens of other projects including commercial, military, entertainment, manufacturing and infrastructure. Also during this period, Mr. Levin has been a partner in several newsletter and online educational companies providing specialized content to the construction industry.


Mr. Levin has written or co-written numerous articles, papers, and several books on construction topics including scheduling, project controls, building information modeling (BIM), claims and drones in construction. He has spoken nationally at construction trade conferences and is an active member of the AACE Planning and Scheduling and Contract Disputes Resolution committees.




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