Substantial Completion Explained: What Contractors & Owners Should Know

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Depending on the contract, the date of Substantial Completion has project-specific contractual and statutory consequences.

January 17, 2022
Travis Colburn - Ahlers Cressman & Sleight

A project’s Substantial Completion date is a critical construction milestone for contractors and owners. Depending on the contract, the date of Substantial Completion has project-specific contractual and statutory consequences.

Substantial Completion is an “event” – there is no universal definition of the term. It is generally understood to be (1) a point in time (2) when work performed by the contractor is sufficiently complete (3) where it can be used or occupied for the owner’s intended purpose. The date of Substantial Completion is generally established at the time of contract formation (either as a negotiated or a contract set date), and that date may be adjusted over the course of a project to account for excusable delays.

As a construction professional, your attorney should review and tailor any written agreement to your project-specific needs and risk tolerances prior to execution. Savvy construction professionals often start with standard form agreements promulgated by the American Institute of Architects (“AIA”), the Design-Build Institute of America (“DBIA”), or the Engineers Joint Contract Document Committee (“EJCDC”) as the basis for their construction contracts. The AIA, DBIA, and EJCDC standard forms each contains contract provisions relating to when and what happens once Substantial Completion has occurred, subject to any agreed-to, project-specific deviations.

Mr. Colburn may be contacted at travis.colburn@acslawyers.com



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