Understanding Extension of Time (EOT) Claims in 2024

Introduction

In the Construction Industry, meeting milestones and achieving Practical Completion by the Date for Practical Completion is often easier said than done. 


Various unexpected factors, such as adverse weather conditions, regulatory changes, unforeseen site issues, or actions of the Principal, can disrupt a project's progress and place the Contractor at risk of having Liquidated Damages imposed. 


This is where an Extension of Time (EOT) clause will come into play.

In essence, EOTs are contractual provisions that provide construction teams with additional time to complete their work when unforeseen challenges arise. Extension of time clauses serve as a means to maintain fairness between the Contractor and the Principal in the face of unexpected delays.
Image of a flooded building. Caption reads, "Understanding Extension of Time (EOT) Claims". Blaze Business & Legal Logo.
Extensions of Time as a concept in Construction Contracts exist all around the world. However, different forms of contracts have differing EOT regimes, and the laws of different countries interpret EOTs in ways that are not consistent internationally. It's always important to consult with a Construction Lawyer experienced in your particular legal jurisdiction.

What is an Extension of Time?

An Extension of Time, often abbreviated as an "EOT", refers to a provision in a Construction Contract that grants the Contractor additional time to complete the project, beyond the originally agreed-upon project completion date (often called the Date for Practical Completion in Australia). These extensions of time are typically invoked by the Contractor in response to unforeseen and legitimate delays caused by factors such as adverse weather conditions, variations, design changes, unforeseen site issues and latent conditions, or shortages of labor and materials.


Depending on the negotiations that occur between the parties, the Extension of Time clause itself will usually  be the governing mechanism for the way the Contractor is allowed to claim an EOT. These EOT clauses set out the circumstances in which the Contractor may claim an Extension of Time (although some may conversely assume that the Contractor may claim an Extension of Time for any cause of delay, then provide circumstances in which the Contractor is prohibited from claiming an Extension of Time).


Extenstions of time may also be granted under the Construction Agreement for other reasons, including force majeure and extensions. However the Contract often has separate mechanisms for extending time in these instances, so this article deals mostly with the Extension of Time clauses themselves.   

Are Extension of Time Clauses Important?

Extensions of Time are one of the more important clauses in construction contracts. They help maintain fairness and equity between the contracting parties, ensuring that the Contractor is not held responsible for delays beyond its control. This includes delays caused by the Principal. 


EOT provisions allow for a practical adjustment of the project schedule, timeline and milestones to accommodate unexpected challenges. This ensures that construction projects can proceed smoothly while the Contractor addresses unforeseen obstacles. 

Storm over building site and crane. Adverse weather is often a ground for an extension of time. Blaze Business & Legal.
A whole body of case law on extension of time has arisen, covering the interpretation of EOT provisions in construction contracts, how extension of time provisions should be drafted, extension of time claims, the rights of a Contractor to be granted an extension of time, extension of time claim methods, ownership of the float, prolongation claims, and so on. It's critical for all Contractors to have staff who are skilled in Contract Management and administering Extension of Time Claims. If you don't have those skillsets in-house, you can engage them internally - give Rachelle Hare a call to discuss how she can help your business optimise its contracting and increase its success rates for Extension of Time claims.

Why Do You Need Extensions of Time?

Construction projects encounter delays for a multitude of reasons, making EOTs very important for Contractors. Otherwise, they would go broke while trying to meet schedules that have been delayed through no fault of the Contractor.


Here are some common scenarios where EOTs are necessary:


1. Bad Weather: Severe weather events like storms or heavy rainfall can halt construction work, and predicting such events accurately is challenging. These weather-related delays can significantly disrupt project schedules and are not something within the control of the Contractor, even if they are allowed to build in a float / allowance for a certain number of days of delay.

2. Design Changes: During a project, project plans and design of the Works may evolve due to updated specifications, client preferences for alterations or unexpected site conditions. These changes usually force the Contractor to carry out additional work and, consequently, require more time to be spent by the Contractor to bring the Works to completion.

3. Surprise Site Issues: Unforeseen complications underground, such as unstable ground, different soil composition, errors in the geotechnical report, or the discovery of hidden artifacts, demand extra time and effort to address.

4. Red Tape and Rules: Navigating the bureaucratic maze of permits and approvals can lead to delays, as these permissions are often prerequisites for specific project tasks.

5. Shortages: Shortages of skilled labour or essential materials, whether due to high demand or unforeseen events, can result in significant project setbacks.

Orange excavator in a storm, representing an extension of time. Blaze Business & Legal.

Keeping Good Records

To request an EOT, meticulous record-keeping is essential. Here's what you should document:


1. Daily Reports: Maintain daily records detailing on-site activities, weather conditions, work progress, and any encountered issues. This chronology helps establish the timeline of delays.

2. Messages and Meetings: Archive all correspondence, including emails, letters, and meeting notes, that discuss delays and EOT requests. This documentation serves as evidence of communication regarding delays.

3. Change Orders: If project plans change, document these alterations. This documentation substantiates the need for additional time due to modifications in the scope of work.

4. Photos and Videos: Take photographs and videos at various project stages. These visuals provide tangible evidence of delays attributed to factors like adverse weather, site issues, or design changes. Properly label and organize these visual records to support EOT claims.


Terms of your Construction Contract

Construction contracts outline specific procedures for requesting EOTs. Adhering to these rules is imperative to ensure that your request is valid:


1. Notice: Notify the project owner or relevant parties as soon as you anticipate potential delays. Contracts typically specify deadlines and methods for providing this notice.

2. Timing: Contracts set specific deadlines for submitting EOT requests. Missing these deadlines can jeopardize your chances of obtaining an extension.

3. Evaluation: The contract outlines the criteria for determining whether an extension is warranted. Factors considered include the cause of the delay and its impact on the project schedule.

4. Multiple Delays: In cases where multiple delays occur concurrently, contracts define responsibility and the appropriate course of action.

Flooded Fields - cause for an extension of time. Blaze Business & Legal.


The Contract Manager's Role

The Contract Manager plays a pivotal role in the EOT process. Their responsibilities include:


1. Expertise: Contract administrators must possess a comprehensive understanding of construction processes, project management, and contract terms. They are impartial and do not take sides.

2. Communication: They serve as intermediaries between contractors and project owners, gathering information and ensuring clear communication to prevent misunderstandings.

3. Decision-Making: Contract administrators base their decisions on contract terms, relying on facts and documents to explain their determinations. Fair and transparent decision-making is essential to maintain satisfaction among all parties involved.


Extensions of Time and Liquidated Damages

Liquidated damages represent a pre-agreed estimate of the loss the Principal may suffer if the project runs behind schedule and the Contractor does not achieve Practical Completion by the Date for Practical Completion.


Extensions of Time (EOTs) and liquidated damages are closely intertwined, and the following aspects should be considered:


1. Time Analysis: A thorough examination of delays and their impact on the project schedule is conducted to determine whether an extension is justified and whether the project owner can claim damages.

2. Concurrent Delays: When both the contractor and external factors contribute to delays, responsibility is assessed, and the necessary extension is granted.

3. No-Fault Extensions: Some contracts allow contractors to request additional time without incurring penalties for delays beyond their control, such as adverse weather.

4. Financial Considerations: Contractual agreements specify the daily rate at which project owners can claim damages. This rate should be a reasonable estimate rather than a punitive measure. When an extension is granted, contractors are exempt from paying damages for that period.

5. Problem Resolution: Both parties must actively work to resolve issues and minimize delays. Project owners should promptly inform contractors of delays and offer assistance, while contractors should take measures to mitigate delays and reduce damages.


Demolished and Flooded Building. EOT cause. Blaze Business & Legal.

Conclusion

An Extension of Time Clause is an integral component of a Construction Contracts. Maintaining meticulous records, following contractual guidelines, and ensuring fair decisions by contract administrators are essential practices. Balancing the allocation of extra time with financial penalties fosters fairness among all stakeholders in construction projects.


Here are some additional things to think about:


1. EOT Overview


Extensions of Time (EOTs) in construction refer to additional periods granted for project completion beyond the initial deadline. They are typically required due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the contractor's control.


2. Granting Conditions for EOTs


EOTs are subject to specific conditions outlined in construction contracts. They are often granted for reasons such as natural disasters, regulatory changes, or material shortages.


3. EOT Request Process


Contractors must follow a well-defined process when requesting EOTs. This process includes substantiating the cause of the delay and presenting a revised project completion plan.


4. Typical Delay Causes


Common causes leading to EOT requests include adverse weather conditions, project scope changes, material and labor shortages, design issues, and delays in obtaining permits or approvals.


5. Implications of EOT Denial


If an EOT is not granted, contractors may face penalties, such as liquidated damages or legal action for breach of contract.


6. Disputing EOT Notifications


Principals have the option to challenge EOTs if they consider the extension unreasonable, not covered by the contract, or within the contractor's control. Contractors must provide robust evidence to support their EOT claims.


7. EOT Request Procedures


Contractors should provide written notice to the owner or their representatives, explaining the reasons for the delay and the additional time required, in accordance with contract stipulations.


8. Evidence of External Factors


Contractors must present written evidence demonstrating that external factors were responsible for the delay, rather than issues related to their performance.


9. Contractual and Legal Considerations


Contractors must be well-versed in their contractual rights and obligations regarding EOTs to avoid legal disputes.


10. Rights of Contractors for EOT


Contractors can request EOTs for delays outside their control, such as material delivery delays, owner-requested variations, extreme weather, or project disputes.


11. Contractual Clauses and Obligations


Contractors should thoroughly understand the contract's clauses regarding time extensions, including any limits and notice requirements, to avoid future

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About the Author

Rachelle Hare

Rachelle Hare - Managing Director and Principal Practitioner of Blaze Business & Legal

Rachelle Hare

Rachelle Hare is a highly experienced Construction Lawyer and Contract Lawyer, with over 23 years of experience in Tier 1 and Tier 2 Construction Firms, Top Tier Private Practice and Government.

With 23+ years of experience as a Senior Lawyer, Strategic Contracting Adviser and Management Consultant in Construction Law, Contracts, Major Projects, Commercial Advisory, Compliance, Procurement, Contract Management and Risk Management, Rachelle has the rare skills to offer you seamless business advice and legal advice to help support your organisation.


As well as a Lawyer and Business Adviser, Rachelle has also acted as a Strategic Procurement Adviser, Compliance Manager, Strategic Risk Adviser and Commercial Manager.

Rachelle owns
Blaze Business & Legal, a combined Commercial Law Firm and Business Advisory Firm located in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Blaze Business & Legal assists a broad range of clients in the Construction Industry and related industries, and advises owners, contractors, subcontractors, NFPs and other organisations on a broad range of Construction Law, Commercial Law, Business Advisory and Management Consulting issues in Brisbane, Queensland and around Australia.

Rachelle also owns Blaze Professional Learning, where she offers practical contracting skills, hands-on experience in drafting and working with contracts, and industry insights to help Professionals upskill and advance their careers with real-world skills.

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