Impediment, delay and prevention - FIDIC

Cause and Effect: The Key to Successful Construction Delay Analysis

I’m sure that you have heard the advice that if an extension of time claim is going to succeed, the claim must demonstrate a link between cause and effect. The claim must demonstrate that the event(s) on which the claim is based affected the time for completion. Showing the impact and time involved is key.

Delayed activities may not be on the critical path. If this is the case, the delay event may consume float. In turn, this may cause subsequent activities to become closer to the critical path. But if the event does not affect the critical path and thus, the time for completion, there will be no extension of time.

Risk Allocation

The risk allocation of the contract may make the contractor responsible for the effects of some delays. If there is no entitlement to additional time in the contract there will be no extension of time.

Sometimes contractors realise towards the end of the project, that they will not complete on time. In such a case, delay penalties will likely be applied and they will incur overrun costs.

At this point, they might consider they need an extension of time. This is in contract to considering whether entitlement to an extension of time exists. Consequently, they hurriedly submit a claim for multiple delay events. They assert that all these delays entitle them to an extension of time up to the date that they completed. This is known as a global claim. In all but exceptional circumstances, it will be rejected by arbitrators and the courts and thus, by contract administrators. This is because such a claim does not demonstrate the effect of each event, either individually or cumulatively, on the time for completion.

How To Show Cause And Effect?

So how can we demonstrate a link between cause and effect in our claims? The answer is by carrying out a suitable form of delay analysis. The purpose of such an analysis is to illustrate the effect of the claimable delay event on the time for completion by using suitable programming techniques.

There are many forms of delay analysis. The selection of the most suitable method depends on several things, including:

  • The existence of suitable programmes.
  • The quality of the baseline programme.
  • The quality of the records.
  • Where the project is in terms of execution at the time the claim is being prepared.

Considering all factors is key to successful analysis. The Society of Construction Law’s Delay and Disruption Protocol gives excellent advice on this subject.

Necessary Knowledge

Delay analysis can be a complicated subject and demands suitable knowledge and skill. It is, therefore, necessary to have suitable resources available to prepare this very essential part of the claim.

If you are the person responsible for preparing the claim and you are using others to perform the delay analysis, you don't have to be a programming expert. However, you need a strong overview of the subject so that you understand the protocols, techniques and how to identify specific causes and their effects. This will enable you to check and demonstrate a number of things:

  • The accuracy of the analysis.
  • Why the particular form of delay analysis is suitable.
  • How the analysis was performed.
  • What the analysis demonstrates.

If this topic interests you, you'll be delighted to find that we now offer delay analysis e-courses. Take a look and join us to bring your knowledge up to speed.

Can Artificial Intelligence Perform the Role of a Construction Planner?

It seems stories and articles about artificial intelligence are everywhere you look at the moment. A common question is whether AI can eventually replace a human’s job completely.

This got me thinking about how AI might feature in construction. Will it start to replace people in projects? As a project planner, I wonder, will a computer ever be able to do my job?

The construction industry continues to evolve, but it can still be slow to embrace new technology. Construction planning is complex and multifaceted. Tasks can include project management, allocation of resources, risk, and programme scheduling.

Given this, I don’t think robots will be replacing us anytime soon. However, in this article, I discuss how AI could assume the role and responsibilities of a construction planner. Might there be advantages to AI taking over the planning function of projects?

Advantages of AI in construction planning

Automating tasks

Artificial intelligence can process large amounts of data at a faster rate than humans. This means it can automate and speed up time-consuming tasks. By analysing resource requirements for a project, AI could generate schedules, optimise monthly workflow, and produce monthly reports. Of course, we should base these processes on the information inputted. So, we wouldn’t be rid of human involvement just yet. However, if AI were to perform these tasks human planners could focus on problem-solving and decision-making.

Risk Mitigation

Construction projects are inherently risky. Delays, cost increases and overruns are not unusual. AI could help identify all of these risks. If AI could review historical data and simulate several scenarios, this could provide early warnings and mitigation strategies. Having this type of data could increase the success rate of projects.

Disadvantages of AI in construction planning

Human Judgement

AI makes decisions by analysing the data available and choosing the one with the best chance of success statistically. Where it struggles is making judgements around unforeseen events. Human intervention is still required to validate and interpret what AI generates, at least for now. Planning requires making considered decisions. In my view, only human judgement can make these decisions. AI is not there in its latest form, but who knows in the future?  But for now, AI lacks the ability to predict a lot of changes. From adjustments in design to delays due to personal issues, there are some things a computer can't know.

Records and Data Quality

AI is heavily reliant on data. It needs quality records to produce an accurate analysis and make correct decisions. It is well-known that in the construction industry, record keeping is inconsistent. For AI to work, our data input and record-keeping need to vastly improve.

Changes in Environments

Construction projects are subject to frequent changes. Design changes, unforeseen weather events, changes in resources, events that occur on-site and emergencies are all common. AI needs to have the ability to react quickly to these events and to remain effective. AI needs to handle real-time data and adjust accordingly. This data also needs a way of being inputted into the AI system.


Artificial intelligence shows great potential in being able to improve the role of a construction planner. However, it is not ready or capable of replacing human judgement and expertise in this role - at least in its current forms. The use of AI in construction planning could help mitigate risks, enhance efficiency, and provide valuable insights. This will be an interesting area of development over the coming years.

In my opinion, a construction project still needs planners today and will for a while. Planners make difficult judgments, take stakeholder preferences into account, and adjust to rapidly changing project environments. On a building site, AI is incapable of negotiating and engaging with other humans, at least for now. But we may see AI playing a supporting role in construction planning very soon.

If you are looking to develop your skill set, or perhaps trying to avoid a robot taking your job, take a look at our online e-courses here.



Justice - Avoiding Disputes and Claims

How To Avoid Disputes From the Outset

Hewitt Decipher Partnership recently presented a webinar on international arbitration. Panel members included a barrister, an arbitrator and a solicitor. They were joined by HDP employees who provide expert advice to legal professionals working on construction disputes. The aim was to look at how to avoid claims.

Whilst these professionals earn fees from disputes, the overwhelming consensus was that the best way to deal with disputes is to not have them in the first place.

So, what can we do to avoid disputes right from the start of the project?

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Progress Updates – Fact or Fiction?

Contractors often shoot themselves in the foot when preparing progress updates for the employer’s team. Many times we see months worth of updates which present a rose-tinted view of project progress.

Whilst it is tempting to keep reporting good news month-on-month, be wary. A less than competent consultant may believe such reports because good news will not involve them in additional and troublesome work. However, you could be causing problems for yourself further down the line.

Problems frequently arise when the contractor needs to submit a claim for an extension of time. It becomes very difficult for him to subsequently tell the employer’s team: “I know we kept telling you that there was no delay to the completion date, but actually there is and it’s not our fault, so please can I have an extension of time.

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Site Access & Time at Large - Battersea Stock Image

Time at Large - An Explanation

A blog reader asked for an explanation of “time at large”. This is not something that I have personally come across in practical terms. For the advice that I am about to give, I am indebted to my ex-boss, Roger Knowles. Roger provides an explanation in his book, 150 Contractual Problems and their Solutions. Roger explains it arises:

"when a contract is entered into with no period of time fixed for completion. Where this occurs, the contractor’s obligation is to compete within a reasonable time."

I have never experienced such a situation and I expect that when it does occur, it will be on Read more