How to Request Time Extensions in Construction Contracts

Contractor shaking hands with an engineer before he ask for a time extension on the construction contract.
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Contract time extensions may be requested for a variety of reasons. They are used to demonstrate that delays have occurred in the construction schedule that affects the project completion date. Time extension requests are normally specified in a contract provision and must be made following the steps and documentation requirements defined in the contract guidelines.

Most extensions are related to delays beyond the contractor’s control, and many involve change order requests. However, there are times when the contractor may have poor business or management skills that can cause the project to run behind.

Are You Entitled to Claim a Time Extension?

Time extension requests may be considered valid under several different circumstances, but not all reasons for delays are approved for an extension. In any case, it is very important to keep records of all changes, documents, emails, and scheduling that can justify your request.

Acceptable Reasons for Extension Requests

One acceptable grounds for the request of an extension includes legal issues or problems. These issues can affect the project’s completion and the contractor’s performance. An example of such a problem could be the delay in clearing inspections.

Funding can also be an issue. The owner may ask for a delayed start while finances are finalized. Owners may also add new or extra work not included in the original scope or contract. These additions could cause delays.

Product necessary for the project may also be a culprit. Long lead items may halt a project in its tracks. Sometimes, Mother Nature will muck up the works through unusual or adverse weather conditions. 

Finally, sub-surface conditions that differ from the expected plans may be encountered. These conditions can take time to resolve.

Reasons for Extensions That May Be Denied

Some problems causing delays may not gain approval. These include delays caused by subcontractors such as not showing up for work or not having the necessary equipment. Another contractor-based delay comes from an under-performing contractor, specifically if bad management causes long-lead times in procuring items.

The contractor must keep accurate records that they have completed their due diligence in keeping the project moving. Insufficient proof or evidence that the critical path method has suffered irrecoverable delays caused by the contractor or their parties can be denied.

Poor planning can also prove bothersome if there are insufficient numbers of workers or an inadequately trained workforce. If plans were not considered for normal weather delays, a request for an extension could be denied.

The Process to Request a Time Extension

When requesting a time extension, certain steps must be followed to ensure the extension is approved. In a typical process, the contractor notifies the project manager that an issue might affect the project schedule. A formal letter is addressed to the contract administrator requesting the time extension and the reasons why those days should be added to the construction schedule.

The contract administrator then remits the letter to the project manager for evaluation and approval or rejection. If the time extension is granted, the project manager must answer by written notice, and a change order must be issued. Some contracts specify that time extension requests must be completed within a specific time frame to avoid automatic rejection.

Supporting Documents During the Claim Process

Properly presented time extensions must contain specific supporting information:

  • Notice of specific issue causing delays
  • List of activities from the project schedule that are affected by the delay 
  • The exact amount of time being requested, specifying working days or calendar days
  • Sketches, photographs, or other images illustrating the delay issues
  • Recommendations were given to the contract administrator
  • Description of actions the contractor has taken to avoid or minimize other delays
  • Alternative solutions presented to the contract administrator
  • Communications among the construction team relating to possible delays and problems related to a specific situation

Additional Items to Consider During the Time Extension Request

A time extension request letter should be concise and must reference the contract clause that allows the request and provide proof of the delay reasons and a proposed recovery plan. It should also include the damages (if any), the amount of calendar or working days being requested, and the activities that are impacted by the changes. Addition considerations when making the request may include:

  • Calendar days are not the same as working days.
  • Insurances and bonds will need to be re-issued to cover extended periods.
  • Winter days are shorter and typically less productive than summer days.
  • Requested extensions should be sufficient to cover all delays, including additional items that might be affected.
  • No additional time will be granted for the same item once it has been approved.
  • In the case of a continuing delay, only one claim is necessary.

A letter of approval for a time extension includes basic contractor and contract information and a clearly defined extension of time.

Sample Time Extension Approval Letter

Contractor Name
Contractor Address
Contract Name
Contract Number

Extension of time

I refer to your extension of time claim dated [insert date of the claim] in accordance with clause [insert the relevant contract clause] of the General Conditions of Contract, the extension(s) of the Principal grant/s of time: [insert the number of days requested and reasons for the time extension].

The Contractual Completion Date (as previously extended) was [insert contract completion date, including previous time extension approvals]. This extension of [the number of days] days makes [insert new completion date] the Contractual Completion


Signed by
Authorized Person