When critical path activities are delayed by the owner (or another party), contractors will sometimes “pace,” or slow down, other activities to match the owner-caused delay. After all, why should the contractor hurry up and wait? But paced activities can often appear as concurrent delays on a project’s overall schedule. And all too often, contractors fail to contemporaneously document their efforts to pace work. Not only can this create avoidable disputes with owners and other contractors, but it can also create future roadblocks to the recovery of delay damages. This article examines the interplay between pacing and concurrent delay and what contractors should do to minimize risk and preserve their rights to obtain more than a simple time extension for project delays.
Pacing versus Concurrent Delay
As a basic matter, most contracts allocate responsibility/liability for a schedule delay to the party that caused the delay. For example, if an owner is contractually required to provide equipment for a contractor to install, then the owner likely bears responsibility for any delays caused if the equipment is delivered late. If, however, the contractor was also behind schedule on other activities during this time and the project would have been delayed regardless of the owner’s late deliveries, then the delay is probably concurrent. And the contractor will generally be entitled to only an extension of time, and no other monetary relief.