NYC Construction Delays Attorney

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In the fast-paced world of New York City construction, delays can disrupt project timelines, inflate budgets, and lead to protracted legal disputes. Whether you’re a contractor facing delay claims or a property owner grappling with the financial implications of a stalled project, the impact can be significant.

These delays often stem from contractual breaches, payment issues, contractor abandonment, stop work orders, and permitting issues. Richman Law Firm PLLC offers legal representation to protect your interests and mitigate the adverse effects of construction delays. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Types of Construction Delays

Delays are common causes of construction disputes. In construction law, they can be categorized into excusable and inexcusable delays.

Excusable Delays

Excusable Delays refer to delays considered legitimate and allowable under the terms of a construction contract, exempting the parties involved (typically the contractor) from penalties such as late fees or damages. Common examples of excusable delays include:

  • Weather conditions, such as floods,  that interfere with construction activities.
  • Other acts of God, such as earthquakes, are unable to be anticipated or planned for.
  • Unanticipated shortages of materials, especially when these materials were ordered on time, but supply disruptions occurred.
  • Amendments to laws or regulations that impact the construction or materials after the project has begun
  • Delays in receiving necessary permits or approvals provided the contractor applied for these promptly and accurately.
  • Discovery of unexpected site conditions, such as contaminated soil or hidden structural problems

Inexcusable Delays

Inexcusable delays are costly delays that could have been avoided or mitigated through proper planning and management by contractors. These delays are not excused under construction law and may result in a dispute. Examples of inexcusable delays include:

  • Poor project management involving scheduling, inadequate supervision, or the inefficient use of resources
  • Failure to pay subcontractors or suppliers on time leading to work stoppages
  • Not having enough workers or equipment to complete the project on time
  • Stop Work Orders where the contractor did not comply with local building codes

Construction Delays and Breaches of Contract

In the construction industry, a well-drafted contract typically includes a timeline for project completion and penalties for delays. Depending on the circumstances and the terms of the agreement, a delay may constitute a breach of contract.

A breach of contract in construction can occur when one party fails to fulfill obligations. This could be a failure to complete work on time, meet specified standards or specifications, or make required payments. If a contractor cannot complete a project within the agreed timeline due to inexcusable delays, this could be considered a breach of contract.

Delays Caused by Property Owners

If a property owner fails to provide necessary information or resources on time, causing delays, they may also be in breach of contract.

In such instances, the aggrieved party may sue for damages caused by the delay, seeking specific performance or, in some cases, terminating the contract altogether.

It’s important to note that not all delays constitute a breach of contract. They depend on the terms of the contract and specific circumstances. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a NYC construction delays attorney when dealing with delays and potential breaches of contract.

Concurrent Delays

Concurrent delays occur when two or more independent delay events occur simultaneously, impacting the project’s completion. These delays can be complex to manage and often lead to disputes between the parties involved in a construction project.

For example, a contractor may be behind schedule due to inefficiency. Then, an unexpected severe weather event may occur. The question then arises: should the contractor be granted an extension of time or held responsible for the delay?

In such scenarios, courts and arbitrators often look at factors such as which delay occurred first, which had the most significant impact on the project timeline, and whether the delays are truly independent.

Common Causes of Construction Delays

In the complex world of construction, delays can occur for many reasons:

Payment Delays

One of the most common causes of construction delays is payment disputes. These could be due to the property owner failing to make timely payments or a contractor not paying subcontractors or suppliers on time. These payment delays can disrupt the workflow, causing significant project delays.

Contractor Abandonment

Contractor abandonment occurs when a contractor unexpectedly leaves a project before completion. This could be due to financial issues, disputes with the property owner, or other reasons. Finding and hiring a new contractor can take considerable time, leading to substantial project delays.

Stop Work Orders

Stop Work Orders are directives issued by government agencies or courts ordering the cessation of work on a project. They are typically issued due to safety concerns, violations of building codes, or legal disputes over property rights or permits. Stop Work Orders can significantly delay a construction project.

Access Agreement Delays

Access agreements allow a contractor to access a property owner’s land for construction. If there are disputes or delays in finalizing these agreements, work can be prevented from starting on time.

Change Orders

Change orders are revisions to the original construction contract that alter the scope of work, price, or schedule. While change orders are common in construction projects due to unforeseen circumstances or changes in the property owner’s requirements, they can also lead to delays if not managed properly.

Liens on the Property

A lien is a legal claim against a property as security for payment of a debt or obligation related to the property. If a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier files a lien against the property due to non-payment, it can cause legal complications and delays in the construction project.

Differing Site Conditions

Differing site conditions refer to conditions at the construction site that differ significantly from those indicated in the contract or typically expected. These could include unexpected soil conditions and hidden structural issues. When these conditions are discovered, additional work may be required to address them, leading to project delays.

City Approval Delays

Construction projects often require various approvals and permits from city or local government agencies. Delays in obtaining these approvals can prevent work from starting on time or halt ongoing work.

Extra Work Claims

Extra work refers to any work performed beyond the scope of the original contract. This can occur when unexpected circumstances arise during construction, requiring additional labor, materials, or time to complete the project.

Contractors may be entitled to submit an extra work claim to recover the additional costs incurred. These claims are typically governed by the contract terms and require a detailed accounting of the extra work performed and associated costs.

Frequently, disputes arise regarding what constitutes ‘extra work’ and whether it is necessary or authorized. Property owners may argue that the work was included in the original contract scope, unnecessary, or improperly performed. On the other hand, contractors may argue that they were directed to perform the extra work or that it was necessary due to unforeseen circumstances.

“No Damage for Delay” Clauses

In many construction contracts, you may find a provision that limits a contractor’s ability to recover damages for delays caused by the property owner or other parties. Instead, the contractor’s sole remedy for such delays is typically an extension of time to complete the project.

These clauses are intended to manage risk in construction projects by limiting potential liability for delays. However, it is crucial to note that these clauses are not absolute and may be subject to exceptions based on the contract language and applicable laws.


Exemptions to “No Damage for Delay” clauses might include situations involving:

  • Delays caused by bad faith or willful misconduct: If the delay results from the property owner’s bad faith actions or willful misconduct, courts may not enforce a no-damage-for-delay clause.
  • Active interference: If the property owner actively interferes with the contractor’s work, causing delays, this could be grounds for overriding the no-damage-for-delay provision.
  • Fundamental breach of contract: In cases where a fundamental breach of contract goes to the very heart of the agreement, courts may find that the no-damage-for-delay clause does not apply.

Construction contracts must contain specific language and clauses to protect the interests of all involved parties. An experienced NYC construction attorney is crucial to ensuring that contracts contain the appropriate clauses enforceable by the courts.

Recoverable Damages Caused by Delays

When construction delays occur, they can lead to various additional costs and losses. Depending on your contract terms, these may be recovered as damages in a legal claim. Here are some types of damages that may be recoverable:

Labor and Wages: Delays can result in increased labor costs due to overtime wages, idle time, or hiring additional workers to catch up on the schedule. These additional labor costs may be recoverable as damages.

Equipment Rental: If a delay causes a project to extend beyond the expected completion date, contractors may incur additional costs for equipment rentals, which may be claimed as damages.

Financing Costs: Construction delays can increase property owners’ financing costs. If a project is delayed, the owner may need to extend their construction loan or pay additional interest. These extra financing costs may be recoverable as damages.

Loss of Use: If a delay prevents a property owner from using their property as intended, they may be able to claim damages for loss of use. This could include lost rental income for an investment property or additional living expenses if the owner has to rent another place while waiting for their home to be completed.

Lost Profits: In some cases, construction delays can cause a business to lose profits. For instance, the owner may lose potential sales if a delay prevents a retail store from opening on time. These lost profits may be recoverable as damages.

Indirect Costs: Delays can lead to indirect costs, such as increased administrative expenses, insurance premiums, or utility costs. These indirect costs may also be recoverable damages.

It’s important to note that recovering these damages requires detailed documentation and analysis. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep accurate records of all costs associated with a delay and consult an experienced construction attorney to understand your rights and options.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

At Richman Law Firm PLLC, we understand the challenges of construction law and are well-equipped to handle disputes regarding construction delays.

If you’re facing construction delays, disputes, or specific legal issues related to New York construction law, our experienced NYC construction delay attorneys are here to help.

We prioritize every attorney-client relationship, helping you make informed decisions moving forward. Whether your case involves arbitration or tailored legal strategies based on specific circumstances, we are one phone call away. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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    Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines. ​

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