Contractors and subcontractors should be familiar with “no damage for delay” provisions. These are contractual provisions that limit the contractor’s remedies for a delay to an extension of time ONLY, and disallow the contractor from being entitled to extended general conditions (overhead) for an otherwise excusable, compensable delay.
There are numerous variations of the “no damage for delay” provision; however they usually contain language that provides as follows:
“The contractor’s sole and exclusive remedy for a delay, interference, or hindrance with its Work shall be an extension of time and contractor shall not be entitled to any damages for a delay, interference, or hindrance with its Work.”
“The contractor shall not be entitled to any compensation whatsoever for any delay, interference, hindrance, acceleration, or inefficiency with its Work and its sole and exclusive remedy for any delay, interference, acceleration, or inefficiency with its Work shall be an extension of time.”
In Florida, “no damage for delay” provisions are enforceable on private and public projects. However, there are EXCEPTIONS that would prevent the provision’s harsh application and entitle a contractor to its extended general conditions for an excusable, compensable delay. These exceptions are fraud, willful concealment of foreseeable circumstances, and active interference. See Triple R Paving, Inc. v. Broward County, 774 So.2d 50 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). In other words, if the hiring party (owner) does not willfully or knowingly delay construction, then the application of the “no damage for delay” provision will preclude the hired party (contractor) from recovering its extended general conditions associated with the delay. See id. On the other hand, if the hiring party does willfully or knowingly delay construction, then the hired party has an argument around the “no damage for delay” provision.
Even with a “no damage for delay” provision in the contract, it is imperative for the hired party (contractor) to properly and timely request additional time and money in accordance with the contract. There are typically provisions that require the hired party (contractor) to notify the hiring party (owner) of delaying events or claims and to request time and money associated with the event or claim. If a contractor fails to timely preserve its rights under the contract to seek additional time or money, it may preclude itself from recovering extended general conditions for a delay that would otherwise serve as an exception to the “no damage for delay” provision. See Marriot Corp. v. Dasta Const. Co., 26 F.3d 1057 (11th Cir. 1994) (contractor’s failure to request time pursuant to the contract prevented it from recovering delay damages associated with an owner’s active interference).
On federal construction projects, “no damage for delay” provisions are perhaps less common based on Federal Acquisition Regulations (F.A.R.) that would otherwise entitle the contractor to recover delay-related damages if it properly and timely preserves its rights. These “no damage for delay” provisions are more frequently found in subcontracts between the prime contractor and its subcontractors. There is authority that would hold an unambiguous “no damage for delay” enforceable on federal construction projects:
“Nevertheless, given their potentially harsh effect, no damages for delay provisions should be strictly construed, but generally will be enforced, absent delay (1) not contemplated by the parties under the provision, (2) lasting an unreasonable period and thereby amounted to an abandonment of the contract, (3) caused by fraud or bad faith, or (4) amounting to active interference or gross negligence.”
Appeal of-The Clark Construction Group, Inc., GAOCAB No. 2003-1, 2004 WL 5462234 (November 23, 2004); accord Grunley Construction Co. v. Architect of the Capitol, GAOCAB No. 2009-1, 2010 WL 2561431 (June 16, 2010).
In drafting a “no damage for delay” provision, I always like to include language that specifically states that the application of the “no damage for delay” provision is not conditioned on the hired party (contractor) being granted additional time to substantially complete or finally complete the project. I also like to include language that the hired party (contractor) understands this “no damage for delay” provision and has factored this provision into the contract amount. It is important that this provision clearly reflects the intent because the hiring party will want to rely on this provision in the event there is a delaying event and it is a provision that will be strictly construed.
Conversely, if you trying to avoid the harsh consequences of a “no damage for delay” provision, it is advisable to consult with counsel that understands the recognized exceptions to the provision and can assist you in negotiating and presenting your claim based on these recognized exceptions.
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.