When construction on a project does not proceed as planned, the question of damages arises, i.e. who pays and how much. Determining the amount of damages can be accomplished by comparing the as-planned construction schedule to the as-built schedule. The damages calculation will be based on the difference between the two.
To determine the as-planned schedule, several key time components must be analyzed. Of particular importance are the date construction was planned to begin, how long construction was projected to take, and when major milestones were expected to be completed. For example, on a critical path method of scheduling, the expected completion time for each element on the critical path would need to be noted. Ascertaining these time components requires the examination of several documents. The bid documents will give the first glimpse of the contractor’s understanding of the time requirements for the projects. Then, the contract documents will verify the contractor’s understanding of the project timeline as well as the owner’s expectations for the completion date. Finally, the initial construction schedule must be inspected.
Once the as-planned schedule has been fixed, the focus moves to the as-built schedule. The as-built schedule contains those dates that actually occurred. For example, the date that construction truly began, not when it was planned, expected, or hoped to begin. Determining the as-built schedule requires an examination of the project’s records including correspondence, photos, subcontract agreements, change orders, employee time cards, progress payment information, materials delivery invoices, equipment rental leases, punch lists, the architect’s substantial completion certificate, final completion documents, occupancy documents, and the like. Once the difference between the as-planned and as-built schedules is established, with an accounting for act of God occurrences, labor events, and the like, the damages determination can begin.
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