Types of Construction Delays

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This chapter gives an idea of what construction delays are, how are they defined and what are their types and comparison of them. Delays can be seen differently from different point of views. Causes of delays and categorization of them in various international contexts are also discussed.

A lot of work has been done before on construction delays and every author came up with his/her own definition.

"Assaf and Hejji defined delay as Time overrun either beyond completion date specified in a contract, or beyond the date that the parties agreed upon for delivery of a project slipping over its planned schedule." (Assaf, Hejji, 2006)

Stumpf defined delay as "Act or event that extends the time required to perform a task under a contract. It usually shows up as additional days of work or as delayed start of an activity." (Stumpf, 2000). And many similar definitions were given.

Therefore construction delays can be considered as time lag in completion of activities from a fixed time as per contract or they can be defined as late completion or late start of activities to the planned schedule or contract schedule. When project delay occurs it means project cannot be completed within stated time, which means there will be extensions of time required which will further result in fine, increased cost due to inflation, termination of contract, court cases etc. or combinations of above stated factors.

Delay can be seen as risk for the project and could be handled at inception stage or at least one can try to mitigate or minimize it. Risk is an integral part of a construction project; it is well known that no project is risk free. If risk is analysed at inception or planning stage it could be managed, minimized, shared, mitigated or accepted to give some good results. Delay can be considered similar to risk or a type of risk; as no construction project is free from delays, delay is also integrated part of construction projects. It depends on size of project as well. Therefore it is expected to analyse and manage delay in same fashion as risk.

Delays are often result of a mismanaged event which must have been managed in a systematic process so as to analyse the effect of that event on the project and how to minimize chances of further delay. (Keane, Caletka, 2008).


Before getting on types of various construction delays there is a major categorisation which is required to be understood. Construction delays can be delayed in some major groups as listed below.

El-Saadi (1998) categorized delay in four major groups.

Critical or Non critical

Excusable or Non Excusable

Compensable or Non Compensable

Concurrent or Non concurrent

Alkaas S., Mazerolle M. and Harris F. (1996) and Ahmed S.M. et al gave following categorizations:

Excusable Delays

Excusable compensable delays

Excusable noncompensable delays

Nonexcusable delays

Concurrent delays

To achieve objectives of this dissertation and to consider delay as risk it is necessary to know about these types of delays and as per categorization in what category they lie. This basic knowledge helps in moving forward and determining strategies to mitigate these risks. Now in this part we will discuss these types of delay in detail:


In simple words Critical delays are those which cause delay to entire project completion date while Non critical delays not necessarily affect the project completion date but affects progress. In all the projects delays are considered at the project completion date. Delays can be combination of small and big delays that occurred during the whole project. Therefore critical delays are taken more into consideration then noncritical delays.


Excusable Delays occurs due to events which are outside the control of contractor like heavy rains, storms, strikes, fire, client suggested changes, differing site conditions, change of government policy or their intervention, stakeholder intervention etc.

Alkass S. et al (1996) says that when there are excusable delays, contractor is entitled to time extension in case date of completion is extended. Such delays can also affect non critical activities which must be considered with more detailed analysis or adjustment of float time.

Excusable delays can be further classified in compensable and noncompensable delays.


As name suggests excusable compensable delays are those in which contractor is entitled for extra payment (compensation) i.e. monetary compensation and time extension as well. But decision that a delay is compensable or noncompensable is taken as per contract between client and contractor. Natural disasters or some reasons which are out of control are not considered. Example of such delay could be that client doesn’t allow access to site even after notice to proceed is given; other such delays which are due to client are compensable.


Such delays are such where both contractor and client are not responsible for delay. Under such circumstances only time extensions are granted and no monetary compensation is provided. Such delays include act of God.


As name suggests these delays are such that they don’t have any excuse or no excuse can be given for them. They arise due to carelessness or actions and inactions of contractors and subcontractors. For such delays no time extensions and monetary compensation is given to contractor if it has affected whole duration of project. In such cases client is liable to get liquidated damages. Example of such delay could be constructing something wrong which is not given in drawings, not completing work on time, improper resource allocation etc.


This is the most complex categorization of delay as it consists of two or more kind of delays regardless of their type which occurs at same time or overlaps some duration together. It is necessary to find out what type has caused overall delay in project completion. Therefore different factors like time of occurrence of delay, duration of delay, impact of them, float ownership etc. have to be considered carefully.

Alkass et al (1996) said that; Concurrent delays which contains two or more excusable delays results in time extension. When compensable and nonexcusable delays are concurrent a time extension can be given or delay can be distributed between client and contractor.


In section 2.3, categorisation of delays was discussed. Now in this section will deal with causes of delays. Lot of work has been done on understanding causes of delays. The two major categorization of delay causes one is Internal Cause another is External Cause.

Internal cause includes delays caused by parties involved in construction project like Client, Contractor, Designer, Consultant these are four major parties then Subcontractors, material suppliers etc. comes. From external factors it includes act of God, strikes, stakeholder’s dissatisfaction etc.

Assaf and Hejji (2006) reflected various causes of delays which occur in large construction projects. They had a field survey of 23 contractors, 19 consultants, and 15 owners and found out and reflected on 73 causes of delays under eight different groups. All those 73 factors are given in table below.


A total of 73 factors and 8 major groups of causes of construction delays were identified through intensive literature reviews in order to consider maximum factors. These factors will be helpful in data analysis so as to forecast delay at planning stage and treat it as risk so that risk management methodologies can be implemented to delay so as to mitigate and minimizing it.

These eight major categories can be brought down as shown in figure.

Fig 2.4 Classification of delay groups.

All major 8 groups can be brought down to 2 major groups which are Internal and external causes. Internal is further subdivided in owner, consultant, contractor and resources. Resources are further subdivided in Material, equipment and labour.

Overall if we need to classify groups for the causes of delay 5 major groups covers all 73 factors they are Owner, Contractor, Consultant, Resources and External.

These causes and classification will help us to rank and treat delay as a risk at planning stage so as remedial measures can be applied. Though in spite of all studies and delay causes know till now it is hard to forecast delay because it's very unpredictable, we can't analyse frequency of delay due to some reason in a project. Sometimes external causes are so dominating that co-ordination of internal groups get disturbed and project faces delay.

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Types Of Construction Delays. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved July 12, 2024 , from

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