Spotting Problem Projects

October 26, 2017
David R. Cook Jr. - Autry, Hanrahan, Hall & Cook, LLP

Perhaps more than any other specialty contractor, electrical contractors bear the brunt of the “problem project.” Long after most other trades have completed their work and scattered in the wind, electrical contractors remain on site until the owner’s last inspection. And when the project is a “problem project,” the owner or prime contractor tend to liberally share their losses and liquidated damages among those specialty contractors remaining on site at the end. So what is an electrical contractor to do when the project starts coming off the rails?

What is a Problem Project?

First, it helps to identify the attributes of a problem project. While there are many negative qualities of a bad job, a problem project is one that busts budgets – whether labor, material, or time. Most commonly, the problem project will significantly exceed the labor budget. Because an electrical contractor’s most important (and understandably expensive) resource is its people, the labor budget is critical to the success of a job. When a project suffers delays or is ineptly managed, the labor costs soar, turning a potentially profitable job into a disaster.

Mr. Cook may be contacted at


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