Factors that delay building projects

So many people think that builders are the only reason, that a project has delays. But there are many more factors that play a role.

Classification of Delay

Delays in construction are caused by several factors. Ahmed et al. (2003) grouped delays
into two categories – internal causes and external causes. Internal causes arise from the
parties to the contract (e.g. contractor, client, and consultant). External causes, on the other
hand, arise from events beyond the control of the parties. These include the act of God,
government action, and material suppliers. Bolton (1990) classifies delay as follows:
• Excusable but non-compensable delay -these are delays caused by occurrences
which are not attributable to any of the parties.
• Compensable delay - these delays result from acts or omissions of the owner or
someone for whose acts an owner is liable.
• Inexcusable delay - these delays result from a contractor's own fault or his
subcontractors or material suppliers.

Data Analysis
The survey data consisting of the 32 causes of delay were analysed and grouped into nine
major areas classifications:

1. Material
• shortages of materials on site or
• Late delivery of material

2. Manpower
• shortage of unskilled labour
• shortage of skilled labour

3. Equipment
• equipment failure or breakdown
• unskilled equipment operators

4. Financing
• Delay in honouring payment
• Difficulties in assessing credit
• Fluctuation of prices

5. Environmental
• Bad weather conditions
• Unfavourable site conditions

6. Changes
• client initiated variations
• necessary variations
• mistakes in soil investigation
• poor design
• foundation conditions encountered
on site

7. Government action
• delays in obtaining permit from
• public holidays
• discrepancy between design
specification and building code

8. Contractual relations
• legal disputes
• insufficient communication
between parties
• poor professional management
• delay in instructions from
• delay by subcontractors

9. Scheduling and controlling
• poor site management
• poor supervision
• lack of programme of works
• accidents during construction
• construction methods
• underestimation of costs of
• underestimation of complexity of
• underestimation of time of

Construction delays are often resulting of a mismanaged event/s and can be seen as a risk for the projects, which if identified, analyzed and managed in a systematic process at inception, could be managed, minimized, shared, mitigated or accepted to give some good results and minimize chances of further delay.

Delay in a construction project has a negative effect on clients, contractors, and consultants in terms of growth in adversarial relationships, mistrust, litigation, arbitration, and cash-flow problems.

A construction project may be regarded as a successful endeavour until it satisfies the cost, time, and quality limitations applied to it. However, it is not uncommon to see a construction project failing to achieve its goal within the specified cost, time, and quality.

In order to counter the unforeseen delays beforehand the realm of “Project management” is resorted to which helps mitigate the delays. Project management is the application of knowledge, skill, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirement and requires the effective management of the project management processes.

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