What to do if a construction project is delayed

Region: Ontario Answer # 1962

Delays are almost a certainty in most major construction projects, whether they are caused by weather, shortage of materials, or unavailability of municipal inspectors or sub-trades.

A good written contract between a contractor and client should anticipate this possibility and provide methods for dealing with delays.

A delay may be considered “excusable” under the contract if it is beyond the contractor’s control and not reasonably foreseeable. Commonly excused delays include labour disputes, unavailability of materials, delays in securing a permit, natural disasters, problems with sub-trades and changes by the client to the work specifications.

Inexcusable delays, such as extreme delays in performing the work, may result in the contractor’s breach of the contract. Unless the contractor notifies the client at the earliest possible date of the reason for the delay and anticipated dates of completion, the client may have to end the contract and, possibly, seek damages for any losses.

If the client or property owner plans on ending the contract, a written notice should be sent to the contractor`s address, preferably via registered mail requiring signature of receipt.

Making a complaint

Another option you have if you feel that your contractor has breached your contract, or you are generally unhappy with the quality of work or the behaviour or the contractor, you can make a formal complaint to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. Depending on the details of the complaint, the Ministry may mediate or investigate, and if found guilty, the business owner can be sent to prison, or be fined, or both. Visit Consumer Protection Ontario for more information on how to make a consumer complaint against a contractor, or view topic 813 Making consumer complaints.


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