Understanding the Need for Written Requests

For contractors, there may be numerous delays in the construction process that they have no control over, such as bad weather, lack of supplies, or modifications to the project plan. When this happens, it is important to have knowledge about the process of submitting a written request for an extension of time to protect your interests and avoid possible disputes with the owner.

As a contractor, there may be a number of delays in the building process which they have no control over. These delays may include: bad weather, lack of supplies, or modification to the project plans. In case any of these scenarios happens, it is important to know about the process of submitting a written request for extension of time to protect the interest of the contractor and to avoid any possible disputes with the owner.

Written requests for an extension of time offer a clear account of the request and its rationale, along with any corroborating evidence. Additionally, it ensures that both parties have a mutual understanding of the timeline and any supplementary work needed to finish the project.

Most construction contracts will include a clause allowing the contractor to request an extension of time for specific causes of delay, such as those mentioned earlier. However, it is important to carefully review the contract to ensure compliance with any notice requirements and timelines for submitting a request. Disregarding the procedures outlined in the contract may result in the forfeiture of the privilege to claim an extension of time or exposure to liquidated damages.

Key Elements of a Written Extension of Time Request

  1. Additional Days Needed: When making a written request for an extension of time, contractors must specify the number of additional days they need to complete the work.  When making a written request for extension of time, the contractor needs to specify the number of additional days needed in order to complete the work.This estimate should be reasonable and based on a careful evaluation of the delays that have arisen and their effect on the project’s timeline.

    It is important to be as accurate as possible, as both the contractor and the homeowner rely on the completion date to plan and make other arrangements. If the contractor underestimates the required days, they may face the same situation later, while overestimating can cause unnecessary delays and disturb the homeowner’s plans.
  2. Details of Delay: The next crucial element to include in your written request for an extension of time is the details of the delay. A clear and concise explanation for the delay and the impact on your ability to meet the deadline should be given.

    Be sure to include any supporting evidence, such as weather reports or delivery receipts, that can help bolster your case. It is essential to be as specific as possible when describing the delay and its impact on the project timeline. This will enable the other party to understand the situation and make an informed decision about whether to grant the extension of time.

  3. Supporting Evidence: It’s important to include supporting evidence when making a request for an extension of time. This evidence should clearly show that the delay was outside of the contractor’s control. For example, in case the delay was caused by severe weather conditions, the contractor can furnish weather reports or other relevant records that indicate the intensity of the weather during that period. In case the delay was due to the non-delivery of vital materials, the contractor can present proof like delivery receipts or communication with the supplier. The more convincing the evidence, the higher the chances of the extension of time request being accepted.

  4. Steps Taken to Avoid Delay: When requesting an extension of time, contractors should be able to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to avoid any delays. This section should provide a detailed explanation of the steps taken by the contractor to avoid delays. This may include actions such as ordering materials early, working additional hours, or bringing in additional labour to speed up the work. It is essential to provide a comprehensive account of the situation because it will indicate that the contractor has acted responsibly and taken all reasonable steps to avert the delay. 

    This will also help to support the contractor’s case for an extension of time.
  5. Updated Completion Schedule: The final part of the request for an extension of time is an updated completion schedule. This schedule should outline the new expected completion date of the project, taking into account the additional time requested. It is important to be realistic when proposing a new completion date and to consider any potential issues or delays that may arise during the remaining construction period.

    The updated completion schedule should be clear and detailed, outlining each step of the remaining construction process and when it is expected to be completed. It should also take into account any other projects or commitments the contractor may have and ensure that the new completion date is achievable.

    Providing a detailed and realistic updated completion schedule can help to demonstrate the contractor’s commitment to completing the project on time and can assist in securing the extension of time.

Tips for Writing an Effective Extension Request

  1. Be Clear and Concise: important to be clear and concise. Make sure to provide all the necessary information in a structured and organised manner, using bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate. Avoid using overly technical or legal language that may be difficult for the recipient to understand. Use simple and straightforward language to explain the situation and the reasons for the delay. This will ensure that your request is understood and processed on time and will minimise any misunderstandings or conflicts later on.
  2. Provide Accurate Information: It is important to provide complete and accurate information when submitting a request for an extension of time.

    Any discrepancies or incorrect details can cause confusion and potentially harm your case. Make sure that the information you provide is specific and factual. If you are unsure about certain details, seek clarification before submitting your request. Be honest about any mistakes or shortcomings on your part and explain what you are doing to rectify the situation. Providing accurate information can help to establish trust with the other party and can also strengthen your case if there are any disputes down the line.

  3. Use Professional Language and Tone: Using professional language and tone is essential when applying for an extension of time in writing. The language and tone should be clear, concise, and respectful. Avoid using emotive or accusatory language, as this may cause misunderstandings or lead to disputes. Use a professional and respectful tone throughout the letter, even if you are addressing a difficult situation. This will demonstrate your professionalism and willingness to work collaboratively to find a solution. Additionally, make sure to proofread and edit your letter carefully before submitting it. A well-written and error-free letter will help you to communicate your request more effectively and increase the likelihood of a positive response.
  4. Follow Contract Requirements: Following the requirements set out in the contract is crucial when applying for an extension of time. The contract will typically outline the procedures and steps that a contractor must take when seeking an extension. These requirements could include providing notice to the relevant parties within a specific timeframe, submitting the request in writing, and providing supporting documentation. Failure to follow these requirements could result in a denial of the extension request or even disputes between parties. Therefore, contractors should ensure they understand and comply with the contract requirements when seeking an extension of time to avoid any unnecessary conflicts or delays.


In conclusion, as a contractor, requesting an extension of time in writing is a crucial part of ensuring that your project is completed successfully and within legal requirements. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can avoid disputes and legal problems down the track. Remember to be clear and concise in your request, provide accurate information and supporting evidence, use professional language and tone, and follow your contract requirements. As a solicitor and construction lawyer with over 10 years of experience, I regularly advise and represent homeowners, builders, contractors, and developers in Extension of Time matters. If you need any further advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.