Pulling the Plug

Someone pulling a plug apart

The fact that the physical work is substantially complete is not necessarily a bar to termination.

December 13, 2022
Todd R. Regan - Construction Executive

As a contractor, you may have wondered if your contract can be terminated by the owner for cause after the project has reached substantial completion. The answer is yes.

Under certain circumstances it may be permissible—or even necessary—for a project owner to terminate the contract for cause after the project has reached substantial completion. Although the rights of the parties in any case will depend in large part on the specific contract language, the fact that a project has reached substantial completion is not an absolute bar to termination for cause, particularly when the owner intends to pursue a performance-bond claim.

Completion Versus Performance
Following substantial completion, a contractor typically will have outstanding contractual obligations such as paying its subcontractors and suppliers, bonding off any mechanic’s liens, completing the punch list, remediating defective work, testing and commissioning equipment, providing manufacturer’s warranties and performing its own warranty obligations.

Reprinted courtesy of Todd R. Regan, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.



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