Extended building time and public holidays
By Uwe Putlitz, CEO of the Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC).
Building and engineering contracts define the period in which the contractor must complete the works or be liable for penalties, if specified.
However, there may be good reasons why the contractor cannot finish on time ranging from extreme weather conditions making work impossible, to the employer making changes to the agreed scope of work. When the employer has caused a delay, the contractor is entitled to additional working time. Such extension of building time must recognise regular annual public holidays as well as additional public holidays, such as special proclaimed workers’ holidays to allow the population to exercise their vote in elections.
All JBCC agreements provide for the construction period to extend from the date of possession of the site by the contractor until the intended date for practical completion. Such a period is calculated in working days. The contractor must justify a claim for additional time using his current works programme and illustrate the effect on the critical path on the current date for practical completion. If public holidays and/or the annual builders’ holidays fall into this ‘extended’ period, the contractor is entitled to extend this period further by the working days lost to holidays.
In reprogramming the works, the contractor may find better ways of scheduling the work and thereby reduce the number of working days claimed. This is obviously in the best interest of the project and the relationship between the employer and the contractor.
Obviously, any extension of the construction period will exclude delays caused by the contractor’s inability or incompetence to continuously progress the works or provide work to the specified quality standards. In this scenario, the contractor is not entitled to any extension of time and, in fact, may well be liable to the employer for the penalty amount per calendar day stated for delays in the tender documents.
It remains the employer’s prerogative to enforce the full penalty or a lesser amount, but the employer cannot impose a penalty amount if provision was not made for this in the tender documents.