Providing written notice of delay to subcontractors when a project is behind schedule is a regular part of good project documentation practices. A properly targeted delay notice is an important, project correspondence that is an appropriate response to a subcontractor’s specific delay or ongoing delays. However, when a project falls behind schedule and the project management team is in the fog of war, it could seem like a good idea to start firing off project delay notices to any and every subcontractor. While these delay notices may provide a short term burst of productivity, you could find that those same notices are aimed back at you in a future litigation.
This article identifies two potential unintended consequences of sending delay notices that a contractor should keep in its sights and then provides recommendations for properly calibrating future delay notices in light of these potential consequences.
Acceleration: You Might Get What You Ask For
A delay notice to a subcontractor could be interpreted as—or expressly state—direction to the subcontractor to accelerate its work. When a subcontractor is directed to accelerate its work, it may incur additional costs for premium, extended, or overtime labor, additional crews, increased supervision costs, increased overhead costs, and losses due to productivity impacts from the acceleration (e.g., stacking of trades and fatigue). A subcontractor may be entitled to recover these increased costs that are caused by a direction to accelerate.