On February 26, 2015, Roy Cooper of Arcadis and I reprised our popular Workshop for the University of Hartford’s Construction Institute, “Managing Legal Exposures.” One of the slides in our presentation quotes a wise jurist on the subject of construction project scheduling:
Except in the middle of a battlefield, nowhere must men coordinate the movement of other men and all materials in the midst of such chaos and with such limited certainty of present facts and future occurrences as in a huge construction project…Even the most painstaking planning frequently turns out to be mere conjecture, and accommodation to changes must necessarily be of the rough, quick and hoc sort, analogous to ever changing commands on the battlefield.
Blake Constr.Co. v. C.J. Coakley Co., 431 A.2d 569 (D.C. App. 1981).
Of course, the stakes on even the largest construction projects are not nearly as significant as those on the battlefield. That said, nothing creates as much exposure to a construction project team as the failure to manage and promptly address scheduling changes. Similar to the battlefield, the one thing that can be anticipated is the unanticipated. Those who are successful are those prepared for the unexpected.
Risk mitigation for project delays can and should be addressed as early as the selection of the project team, and in the preparation of the contract documents. The following should be considered long before the “chaos” of construction: