Project Lifecycle – 5. Design Delays

Published by Paul Heming | Date 27 June 2018

I’ve already mentioned that where Construction Contracts include design, my experience is that the success or failure of the programme, typically hinges on the success of the design period.

If like me, you’ve worked on contracts where your company had major design responsibility, design delays will not be uncommon to you.

So … how do you manage them?

Design is your first activity, and this is where the foundations that you laid in the first 4-steps of the Project Lifecycle should start to pay dividends.

Having followed all the steps, by this point you should:

  • Understand the contract and exactly how to act in the event of delays
  • Have a strategy in place to manage the Client
  • Understand in detail the Design management process according to the contract

If you have these things under your belt, you’ll be prepared for what the design period throws at you.

I’ll give you an example….

I was working on an amended JCT Design and Build Contract and we had a very tight design programme. The contract was tough, and it was a condition precedent to give notice within 5 days of any delay event or waive our rights to an Extension of Time.

Due to our tight programme we knew that we had to be savvy in how we approached things. At the start of the Design Period we created an Information Release Schedule (IRS): this document was a list of Information we needed from the Client and a set of dates by which they needed to deliver it.

This information was genuinely required and the dates by which we needed it were realistic given the programme we were working to. Very early on however, it became apparent that the client had two major issues:

  1. They didn’t have all of their design complete to provide us information; and,
  2. The Architect didn’t have enough resource to provide Comments/Status on our drawings after 2-weeks’ (he actually admitted this to us)

The IRS was a simple document which confirmed; the information required, the area it affected; the date it was required and if it was late, how many days it was late.

Given the tight programme we knew we couldn’t be flexible with the client and just accept the delays and moreover, we needed to act robustly by giving notice within 5 days or risk losing entitlement.

Rather than submitting Contractual Letters, we submitted the IRS to the client on a weekly basis.  This was perfect as it was non-aggressive and meant we met our obligations to give notice of delays on a weekly basis.

The IRS Schedule is a very simple and effective way of recording delays in the design and because of the detail included on the document, puts you in a good position to claim for an Extension of Time and also Loss and Expense.

Next week we will look at how to submit a claim for Design Delays to ensure you recover what you’re due. In the meantime, if you’d like to access to an IRS template, get in touch via email.

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