Yeah, we'll get to it.  Just can't say when.
Yeah, we'll get to it. Just can't say when.

Where’s Bob? Bob is the General Contractor on one of my projects.  (love this photo below!) Construction delays and related mysteries happen for many reasons.  (And Courtney the plumbing sub on another project too!)

It’s the second day in a row that he’s a no show.   Al, the electrician is on the job.  So is John the plumber. Both continue to do their roughing (the process of running the wires and pipes in the walls and floors) while the home-owner is getting agitated.  When Al and John are asked about Bob’s whereabouts- they shrug.

Calls and texts get no response. Is Bob ok? Did his phone get lost? Is he too busy? What’s going on?

No Oversight and coordination

The General Contractor (GC)  is the main contractor who runs the project. The GC, usually the carpenter,  coordinates the subcontractors (tradesman) to get the work done, and done correctly in the right order. When Bob is away, the wiring and pipes get installed without the knowledgeable oversight and coordination needed for a projects execution. Yes, the drawings help explain the completed result, BUT will the plumber hack out a big piece of the floor joist to install his waste line and damage the structure? Will the electrician follow new code updates regarding circuit breakers? Will the subcontractors be ready for the sheet-rock crew scheduled for next week?

Client Frustration Catalyst

So Bob, luckily was someone we did not recommend, and is MIA.

However, the show must go on- as the home-owners are living out of the house and spending a steep rent each month. They are rightfully nervous that this may cost them additional time and related rent-money.

Through one of the subcontractors we learn that Bob has a number of projects ongoing and is spread too thin: another project has a very demanding owner, threatening legal action over  minor issues,  but has commanded Bob’s attention and left our project to “fend for itself”.



Nothing quite gets under a contractors skin than talking about schedule (ahem, many architects too). They hem , they haw, one can watch mature men and women start looking at their feet and voices weaken.

OH yes, the construction schedule. The contractor is required to provide us with a construction schedule within 2 weeks of the award of the bid…We require a written schedule breaking down how they intend to meet the construction period total that they identified in the bid , we do not ask for a lot of detail, but usually these 5 periods cited below are enough to monitor the work:

  1. mobilization/temporary accommodations / demo/ site /utility
  2. general construction -foundation and framing
  3. roughing, electrical , plumbing,  hvac
  4. finish and trim out
  5. final sitework and punchlist

Scheduling Consequences and Incentives

So one of the most important elements of construction agreements revolve around the schedule- specifically when the work will be complete. In order to help achieve a certain deadline, penalties and bonuses are often used.  The reason deadlines in construction are so critical, is that  lateness often creates additional hardship or income loss for the owner such as extra rent needed before they can return to their renovated home, or a store that won’t be open for the holiday season if the construction takes longer than planned.  Construction delays can happen for a variety of reasons


The opportunity to earn a bonus is often attractive to contractors, but it comes with a risk. The contractor may not be able to achieve early completion due to factors beyond its control. And the incentive bonus is usually balanced by a penalty for failing to meet the stipulated date. Incentives can also jeopardize quality if contractors cut corners and rush in order to reach milestones for bonuses.


The proper legal name for penalty clauses is “liquidated damages.” Liquidated damages are merely an agreement between the parties as to what damages/fines will be assessed for late completion, so that neither party has to prove what the actual damages are (or are not). A typical liquidated damages clause reads something like the following: “For each calendar day beyond the scheduled date of Substantial Completion that the Project has not achieved Substantial Completion, the Contractor shall pay to the Owner as liquidated damages the sum of $_____.”


Call Steve at 914 674 2950  to get more effective ideas to keep the job moving.

Article by Steven Secon