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Can you file a claim if your contractor delivers late?

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2023 | Construction Law

Construction delays can be incredibly frustrating, yet they are a frequent occurrence. A wise contractor will always build in plenty of leeway when giving a completion date, but some do not and even if they do, they can still overrun it.

So, what if a contractor that you hire takes longer than promised? Can you sue them?

Was the delay excusable?

Whether you can sue them over it comes down to whether the delay was excusable or not. Your contract should lay out what could count as an excusable delay, so referring back to that should always be a first step. You should also check what completion date was written into the contract. Whatever the contractor originally said when they first saw the project is irrelevant if they put a later date in the contract as that is the one you legally agreed to.

Examples of excusable delays that you cannot hold a contractor responsible for include labor strikes, extreme weather conditions or faults in the design of the plans that another party drew up. By contrast, reasons for delays that a court might consider the contractor responsible for include making an unrealistic estimate just to secure the contract, failing to show up when they were meant to or failing to put enough people on the job.

Contractors will know that you might sue them if they take too long without good reason. Hence, they might be tempted to rush to finish a job, skipping important steps and leaving you with construction defects. If you are unhappy with the outcome of a contractor’s work, whether it is late or faulty, you’ll want to understand your legal options. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.