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Assessing the Issue of Delays in Construction

Info: 5120 words (20 pages) Example Literature Review
Published: 6th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Construction

2.1 General

Literature Review is a process to conducting a research to find out the research problem and the current knowledge on a particular topic. This purpose is to bring the reader to know the current literature and expanding the knowledge within the topic, and also hope that by this research can conduct few methods to mitigate the problem in the topic. The problem of delays has been studied and discussed by several researchers in pass decades but the delays problem still happen in many building project. The problem of delays may effect by the type of the project, location, sizes and scope of the project. Some of the projects just late few days from the contractual period but some are delayed over a year. Therefore, through study by several researchers, it is necessary to define the all possible causes of delay in order to mitigate the possibility of delays in building construction project. This chapter is study the finding on several literature searches and focusing on the specific issues which included the definition of delays, type of delays and also review the group’s causes. The materials that get from the literature are cited as references.

2.2 Definition of delays

In general, delays are among the most common problem will happen in the building construction industry which may occur in a simple or a complex projects. Delays in building construction project can define as over time completion of building work compared from the schedule which state in contract schedule before. Many researchers have defined construction delays in their own word but it also brings the similar meaning.

According to Sanders and Eagles (2001), delay will causes extended time to complete all or part of a project and Bramble and Callahan (1987) also have defined that; “a delay is the time during which some part of the construction project has been extended or not performed due to an unanticipated circumstance.”

Assaf et al. (1995) study than construction delay was defined as the time overrun compare to completion date as specified in a contract, or beyond the date that the parties agreed upon for delivery of a project. On the others hand Abd. Majid (1997) defined delays as the time overrun beyond the contract date or the date that the critical activities have been delayed.

Delays will slowing down the work without stopping it entirely is defined by Bartholomew (1998). It does not means that suspension of work but it means that stoppage of work directed to the contractor by a formal form from client. Delay, from the view of Aibinu and Jagboro (2002) is when the parties of the project are contributing to the non-completion of the project within the original contract period.

Zack, (2003) say that delay is an event that required additional days of work of the contract manifests to perform or complete work. Delay, as a loss of time, Majid I.A interprets that ‘Time’ refers to the period for completing the construction project. If the project is delays, it means the project work cannot be completed same as the original contract schedule.

2.2 Classification of delay in residential building construction project

Delays in building contraction project are caused by several factors. Ahmed et al. (2003) grouped delays into two categories- internal causes and external causes. Internal causes are arises by the parties of the contract like client, contractor, and consultant on the other hand external causes are arises from the event which can not control by the parties of the contract. This two categories of delays used in determining delay damages. Delays can be groped in the following four broad categories according to how they operate contractually. ( Syed M. Ahmed..)

2.3 types of delays

Delays can be groups in the following four broad categories according to how they operate contractually.

Non- excusable delays

Excusable non- compensable delays

Excusable compensation delays

Concurrent delays

2.3.1 Inexcusable delays (non-Excusable delay)

This cause of delay is causes by the contractor’s own actions or inactions. It is a delay that which the contractor may be able to foresee or prevented, but he failed to do so (Last, 1997). These delays might result of underestimates of productivity, inadequate scheduling or mismanagement, construction mistakes, weather, equipment breakdowns, staffing problem or mere bad luck and etc. such delay are inherently the Contractor ‘s responsibility and no relief is allowed. Contractor is generally not entitlement to a time extension if the delays have affected the whole project. Contractor is cannot discharge his liability to others and must spend up the work when delay in construction project or compensate to owner (alkass et al, 1996). This compensation may come out by either liquidated damages or actual damages clause in the contract. Abd. Majid (1997) study that Liquidated damages are generally expressed as a daily rate that is based on a forecast of costs the owner is likely to incur in the event of late completion by the contractor. Inexcusable delays may be considered as breach of contract (Last, 1997).

2.3.2 Excusable delays( non- compensable delays)

This cause of delay is arises by the third parties or can incidents that beyond the fault or negligence of the parties of the contract like client, contractor, and consultant. It means that the caused of delay are not foreseeable, Alkass et al. (1996). These included the acts of god, acts of the public enemy, acts of the owner or those under his control, acts of the owner’s independent contractors, unusual weather, strikes, fire, act of government in its sovereign capacity, floods, epidemics, freight embargoes and etc. In this cause, the contractor will entitle to a time of extension (EOT). This type of delays can have an impact on non-critical activities which need a more detailed analysis to determine whether additional time extension is warranted or if the reduction of float time can be justified, Alkass et al (1996). Excusable delays can be classified in to compensation delays and without compensation delays.

2.3.3 Excusable Delays With Compensable delays

Contractor is deemed to be compensable when the delay is within the control and the fault is due to the project owner own negligence (Sweet 1977). These compensable delays are excusable delays, suspensions, or interruptions to all or part of the work by the owner or the owner’s agents resulting from breach of an obligation, stated or implied, in the contract. Alkass et. Al, (1996) say that the Contractor is entitled not only to an extension of time but also the monetary compensation due to this type of delays. However, the contractor must prove that the delay was “unreasonable” and also the extent of the additional expenses involved (Clough, 1975).

The usual equitable adjustment clauses in Owner issued contract that apply to delay are:- Changes

With the written Change Notice, the Owner may, without any notice to the

Parties involved making any change, at any time in the Work within the scope of the Contract, including but not limited to changes:

In the drawings, designs or specifications

In the method, manner or sequence of Contractor’s work

In Customer or Owner furnished facilities, equipments, materials, services or


Directing acceleration or deceleration in the performance of the work

Modifying the Contract Schedule or the Contract milestones

If at any time Contractor believes that owner is acts or omissions to a change to the Work not covered by a Change Notice, Contractor shall within ten (10) calendar days of discovery of such act or omission, submit a written Change Notice Request, explaining in detail the basis for the request. Owner may either issue a Change Notice or deny the request in writing.

If any change under this clause causes directly or indirectly an increase or decrease in the cost, or the time required for the performance of any part of the Work, whether or not changed by any order, an equitable adjustment shall be made and the contract will be modified accordingly.

The clause recognizes that changes in the work or changes in the method or manner of performance may require changes in the schedule and schedule milestones and this could further necessitate revisions in activity durations, sequence of work items, or interrelationships of various tasks. These changes may have a direct impact on the schedule, as where a change in method requires a greater or lesser period of performance or its effects may be subtler, as where the change merely rearranges priorities. In addition to a time extension, the contract’s clause provides compensation for any delay resulting from a contract change by allowing an equitable adjustment for the increased cost of the performance of the work caused by the change. Differing Site Conditions

The portion of the clause addressing cost or time adjustments for ‘differing site conditions’ provides:

If such conditions do differ in material and thus cause an increase/decrease in the Contractor’s cost or time required for performance of the Work, an equitable adjustment will be made pursuant to the General Condition titled “Changes”. No claim of the Contractor under this clause will be allowed unless the Contractor has given the required notice. The main intention is to leave the Contractor neither damaged nor enriched because of the resultant delay.

The differing site conditions clause must not be confused with the Site Conditions clause in Owner issued contracts – the so-called “Exculpatory” clause. Its intent is to disallow any claims for delays relating to conditions at the site, which the Contractor should have anticipated. The exceptions are limited to those conditions defined in the Differing Site Conditions clause.

2.3.4 Concurrent Delays

“Concurrent delays” occur when the delay event occur in the same time period, which affects the completion date on the project (Reynolds and Revay, 2001)

Concurrent delays occur when both Owner and the Contractor are responsible for the delay. Generally, if the delays are inextricably intertwined, neither the Contractor can be held responsible for the delay (forced to accelerate, or be liable for liquidated damages) nor can he recover the delay damages from the Owner. (Ahmed et al, 2002)

The ways to determine which delays are concurrent is difficultly. The resolution is by a contentious legal and technical subject in construction and engineering contracts (SCL, 2002). This reason is due to the consideration of the interaction of different factors such as the time of occurrence of the delay, their critically, their lenght of duration, the legal principles of causation and float ownership (Bubshait and Cunningham, 2004).

2.4 Related studies of causes of delay

An incident of delay can originate from owner, contractor, subcontractor, suppliers, and others key professional included architects, engineers, and quantity surveyor or from any of the other factors interfacing upon construction project (Bramble and Callahan., 1992). Many of these problematic conditions are beyond control and often lead to delay or project time overrun. Some projects are only a few days behind the schedule; some are delayed over a year (Odeh and Battaineh, 2002). So it is essential to define the actual causes of delay in order to minimize and avoid the delays in any construction project. Many researcher studies were carried to assess the causes of delays in construction projects.

Mezher and tawil (1998), study on the causes of delays in Lebanon from the viewpoint of owner, contractors and architectural or engineering firms. It was found that owner of the project are more concerns with regard to financial issues, contractor regarded contractual relationships the most important, and the consultants considered project management issues to be the most important of the causes of delays.

Yates studies a decision support system for construction delay analysis called (DAS). The main categories of delays in DAS include engineering, equipment, external delays, labour, management, material, owner, subcontractors, and weather.

Henset (1993) recommended a comprehensive grouping of the main causes of construction delays. These included: materials, labour, equipment and financial factors. Also counted among the causes of postponements were improper planning, lack of control, subcontractor delays, poor co-ordination, inadequate supervision, improper construction methods, technical personnel shortages and poor communication.

The causes of construction delays in a developing economy have also been studied by Ogunlana et al. (1996). The study involved in the construction of high-rise building projects in Bangkok, Thailand. It was found that resource supply problems were by far the most serious problems of the Thai construction industry. The results also supported the view that construction problems in developing economies could be classified into three major groups which are inadequacy of resource supplies, client and consultant shortcomings, and contractor incompetence/ inadequacy.

Aibinu and Jagboro (2002), in their study of the growing problem of construction delay in Nigeria, examined the effects of delays on the delivery of construction projects in the country. Time and cost overruns were found to be frequent effects of delay. Acceleration of site activities coupled with improved clients’ project management procedures and the inclusion of an appropriate contingency allowance in the precontract estimate were recommended as a means of minimizing the adverse effect of construction delays in Nigeria.

Sweis et al. (2008) studied the causes of delay in residential projects in Jordan and concluded that financial difficulties faced by the contractor and too many change orders by the owner are the leading causes of construction delay. Abd El-Razek et al. (2008) in a similar study in Egypt found that the most important causes of delay are financing by contractor during construction, delays in contractor’s payment by owner, design changes by owner or his agent during construction, partial payments during construction, and non-utilization of professional construction/contractual management.

Assaf and AlHejji (2006) conducted a time performance survey of different types of construction projects in Saudi Arabia to determine the causes of delay and their importance according to each project participant (owner, consultant, and contractor). They identified seventy three (73) causes of delay during the research. The most common cause of delay identified by all three parties was “change order.”

Assaf et al. studied the causes of delay in large building construction projects in

Saudi Arabia. The most important causes of delay included approval of shop drawings, delays in payments to contractors and the resulting cash-flow problems during construction, design changes, conflicts in work schedules of subcontractors, slow decision making and executive bureaucracy in the owners’ organizations, design errors, labour shortage and inadequate labour skills. Mezher et al. [11] conducted a survey of the causes of delays in the construction industry in Lebanon from the viewpoint of owners, contractors and architectural/engineering firms. It was found that owners had more concerns with regard to financial issues; contractors regarded contractual relationships the most important, while consultants considered project management issues to be the most important causes of delays.

This review has underscored that the factors that cause delay in construction projects are many and vary from country to country and from one circumstance to another. However, in developing economies Ogunlana et al. (1996) have reported that there are distinctive problems that cause delays in construction. They have classified them into three groups: (a) problems of shortage or inadequacies in industry infrastructure (mainly supply of resources), (b) problems caused by clients and consultants, and (c) problems caused by contractor incompetence/inadequacies.

2.5 Group Causes of Delays in Building Construction Industry

There are many factors that causes of delay in building construction project. Previous researchers have study that there are two types of causes for delays in construction project: external and internal causes. There are two kinds of causes for delays in construction projects: external and internal causes. Internal causes of delays include the causes, which come from four parties involved in that project. These parties include the Owner, Designers, Contractors, and Consultants. Other delays, which do not come from these four parties, are based on external causes for instance from the government, material suppliers, or weather. Grouping causes not only very useful to determine the factors which are related through a different characteristic but also helped to focus attention in generating the possible factors for a particular group.

Moreover, it is easier to establish the permanent corrective actions by essential determine the correct factors that cause the delays (Abd. Majid, 1997). Therefore the group of causes of delay are used to provide a basis parallel with these research objectives.

Table 1: Cause of delays categorized into nine groups

Causes of delay


original contract duration is too short

Legal disputes b/w various parts

Inadequate definition of substantial completion

Ineffective delay penalties

Type of construction contract (Turnkey, construction only.)

Type of project bidding and award (negotiation, lowest bidder.)


Delay in progress payments by owner

Delay to furnish and deliver the site to the contractor by the owner

Change orders by owner during construction

Late in revising and approving design documents by Owner

Delay in approving shop drawings and sample materials

Poor communication and coordination by owner and other parties

Slowness in decision making process by owner

Conflicts between joint-ownership of the project

Unavailability of incentives for contractor for finishing ahead of schedule

Suspension of work by owner


Difficulties in financing project by contractor

Conflicts in sub-contractors schedule in execution of project

Rework due to errors during construction

Conflicts b/w contractor and other parties (consultant and owner)

Poor site management and supervision by contractor

Poor communication and coordination by contractor with other parties

Ineffective planning and scheduling of project by contractor

Improper construction methods implemented by contractor

Delays in sub-contractors work

Inadequate contractor’s work

Frequent change of sub-contractors because of their inefficient work

Poor qualification of the contractor’s technical staff

Delay in site mobilization

Delay in performing inspection and testing by consultant

Delay in approving major changes in the scope of work by consultant

Inflexibility (rigidity) of consultant

Poor communication/coordination between consultant and other parties

Late in reviewing and approving design documents by consultant

Conflicts between consultant and design engineer

Inadequate experience of consultant


Mistakes and discrepancies in design documents

Delays in producing design documents

Unclear and inadequate details in drawings

Complexity of project design

Insufficient data collection and survey before design

Misunderstanding of owner’s requirements by design engineer

Inadequate design-team experience

Un-use of advanced engineering design software


Shortage of construction materials in market

Changes in material types and specifications during construction

Delay in material delivery

Damage of sorted material while they are needed urgently

Delay in manufacturing special building materials

Late procurement of materials

Late in selection of finishing materials due to availability of many types in market


Equipment breakdowns

Shortage of equipment

Low level of equipment-operator’s skill

Low productivity and efficiency of equipment

Lack of high-technology mechanical equipment


Shortage of labours

Unqualified workforce

Nationality of labours

Low productivity level of labours

Personal conflicts among labours


Effects of subsurface conditions (e.g., soil, high water table, etc.)

Delay in obtaining permits from municipality

Hot weather effect on construction activities

Rain effect on construction activities

Unavailability of utilities in site (such as, water, electricity, telephone, etc.)

Effect of social and cultural factors

Traffic control and restriction at job site

Accident during construction

Differing site (ground) conditions

Changes in government regulations and laws

Delay in providing services from utilities (such as water, electricity)

Delay in performing final inspection and certification by a third party


Table 1 are the major causes of delay categorized into nine groups and study by S.A. Assaf, S. Al-Hejji / International Journal of Project Management 24 (2006) 349–357. The causes of delays will categorize into nine groups which is project, owner, contractor, design, materials, equipment, labours and external factor.

Table 2 causes of Groups of delay Factors

Causes of delays


Delays in honouring payment certificates

Difficulty in accessing Bank credit

Fluctuation of prices


Shortage of materials

Late deliveries of materials


Poor supervision

Accidents during construction

Poor site management

Lack of programme of work

Construction methods

Underestimation of costs of project

Underestimation of complexity of project

Underestimation of time completion

Scheduling and controlling

Poor professional management

Legal disputes

Insufficient communication between parties

Delay in instructions from consultants

Delay by subcontractors

Client initiated variations

Necessary variations

Mistakes with soil investigations

Foundation conditions encountered on site

Poor Design


Unskilled equipment operators

Breakdown of equipments


Bad weather conditions

Unfavourable site conditions


Obtaining permit from municipality

Discrepancy between design specification and building code

Public holidays

Government action

Shortage of skilled labour

Shortage of unskilled labour


Table 2 are the causes of delays according by Australasian Journal of Construction economics and Building. The causes of delays are categorized into eight groups which is financing, materials, scheduling and controlling, contractual relationship, changes, equipment, environment, government action and manpower.

According to the table 1 and 2, we found that even the group of the delays are different, but from the factor of the causes we can know that the two tables are almost the same. Except the external factor like government action and environment, all the causes are main regarding to the parties of the project which are client, contractor, and consultants.

2.6 Frequency of delay causes regarding the parties of the contract.

The most frequent causes of delays are according to the parties of the contract: owner, consultants and contractors. From the owner’s point of view, the most frequent causes of delay are related to both contractor and labours. Inputs of the contractor indicate that the causes of delays are related to the owner. Consultants, like owner due to that most of the owner award the consultants to execute their project. Generally, the causes of delays are cause by the unqualified contractor with shortage in resources and low capabilities, which lead to low performance and which cause in completion of the work.


Type of project bidding award shortage of labours

Ineffective planning and scheduling of project by contractor

Low productivity level of labours

Unqualified work force

Change orders by owner during construction

Hot weather affect on construction activities

Type of construction contract ( turnkey, construction only)

Poor site management and supervision by contractor

Conflicts encountered with sub- contractor schedule in project execution.


Delays in progress payment by owner suspension of work by owner

Late in reviewing and approving design documents by owner

Change orders by owner during construction

Late procurement of materials

Mistakes and discrepancies in design documents

Delays in producing design documents

Difficulties in financing project by contractor

Late in reviewing and approving design documents by consultants

Slowness in decision- making process by owner


Type of project budding and award

Change order by owner during construction

Shortage of labours

Ineffective planning and scheduling of project by contractor

Delays in progress payment by owner

Low productivity level of labours

Unavailability of incentives for contractor to finish ahead of schedule

Ineffective delays penalties

Hot weather effect on construction activities

Poor qualification of the contractor technical staff

2.7 Method if mitigation of delay in building construction industry

Few of the researchers were recommended the methods of mitigated delay in construction project. According to Chan and kumarasamy (1997) suggested that the minimization of time overrun would require: strong management teams; thorough investigation of site conditions, together with the design of groundwork and foundations. They have to improve that developing communication system linking all project teams was the significant way to mitigate this matter.

Aibine and Jagboro(2002) conducted a study on the effect of delays on project delivery in Nigeria. They identified two methods to minimize or possible eliminate time overrun. There were acceleration of site activities and contingency allowance.

Ahmaed S.M. et al. (2002) in their study of delays in Florida have recommended streamlining the Buildings Permit Approval Process as much as possible. The issues such as changes in drawing, incomplete and faulty specifications and change orders must be controlled with proper design process management and timely decision making.

Abdul- Rahman H. El al (2006) identified the procedures taken by contractor as to recover delays. From their survey, recommended procedures were increasing the productivity by working overtime hours or working by shifts, followed by asking for extension of time. If the problem was shortage of resources, they suggested rescheduling the activities within the available resources using skilled labours and by using subcontractors. The respondent also agreed that site meetings are essential in solving the problem with the condition that it should not be too frequent.

kaliba, Muya and Mumba (2009) studies the schedule delays in road construction project in Zambia. They suggest the following recommendation to minimize the causes and effect of schedule dalays: project timing and scheduling; well defined scope; accurate cost estimate; availability fund for project; effective communication; deliberate scheme to build capacity building; and legislation and good corporate government.

Based on several studies of project success factors and minimizing delays in construction project, a total of twenty three methods have been identified in order to minimize construction delays as shown in table 3.0

Table 3.0 method of mitigation delay


Utilization of the latest construction technology method

Frequent site meeting with all functional parties

Not awarding contract based on the lowest bid

Increase productivity by working overtime, shift, etc

Offer incentive for early project completion

Ask for extensive of time

Execute delayed activities by subcontractors

Promote team working among project participants

Developing human resources management ( training, day courses, etc)

Timely decision making by all functional group

Proper project planning and scheduling

Developing appropriate communication system linking to all functional group

Early in obtaining permit and approval from relevant authority

Thorough project feasibility study and site investigation

Accurate initial project cost estimation

Hire experience personnel for project implementation

Build a systematic project control and monitoring mechanism

Absence of bureaucracy

Proper emphasis on past experience of project parties

Accurate initial time estimation

Ensure the availability of resources ( finance, materials. Equipment, workmen, etc)

Select the competent project manager

Use the appropriate construction methods

2.8 Summary

By understanding this chapter, various information regarding the effects of delays and methods to mitigate delays were obtained. In the following chapter, the methodologies used to perform this study will be discussed. Methodologies for data collection, data analysis and reporting result will be elaborated in detail.

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Construction regards processes involved in delivering buildings, infrastructure and industrial facilities and associated activities including planning, designing, building, and fit out. Construction also covers repairs, maintenance, and demolition.

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