Understanding extension of time (EOT) in construction contracts

Before discussing the importance of checking the fine print on time extensions, it’s essential to understand the concept of time extensions in construction contracts. A time extension is an agreement between the contractor and owner to extend the project’s completion date beyond the original contract completion date. This agreement is usually granted when unexpected events or circumstances arise that are beyond the control of the contractor and prevent them from completing the project on time.

Time extensions are a common feature of construction contracts and are essential for the contractor to avoid liability for liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are a pre-determined amount of damages that the contractor must pay if they fail to complete the project on time. However, if the contractor can demonstrate that a delay was beyond their control, they can request an extension of time and avoid liability for liquidated damages.

It’s important to note that the process for requesting and granting time extensions is typically outlined in the contract. Failure to follow these procedures can lead to disputes down the line. Therefore, it’s crucial for builders to familiarise themselves with the fine print on time extensions and ensure that they comply with all contractual obligations when requesting an extension of time.

Importance of reviewing the contract

Before starting any construction project, builders must have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations under the construction contract, particularly with regards to time extensions. This is important because many contracts have specific provisions and clauses relating to time extensions, which can impact the builder’s ability to claim for additional time or compensation for delays.

By reviewing the contract carefully, builders can determine the specific circumstances under which they can request a time extension and the procedures for doing so. For example, many contracts will specify the required notice period for requesting a time extension, the types of events or circumstances that qualify for an extension, and the documentation required to support such requests.

Failing to review the contract can result in significant delays, unexpected costs, and potential disputes with the homeowner. It can also lead to missed opportunities to request an extension of time for unforeseen circumstances, which may result in the builder being liable for liquidated damages.

In short, reviewing the contract and understanding the provisions relating to time extensions is critical to ensuring that builders can complete their work on time, within budget, and with minimum disputes.

What to look for in the contract

When reviewing a contract for time extensions, it is important to focus on specific clauses that outline the contractor’s rights and obligations relating to time extensions. These clauses are usually included in the contract and can determine whether the contractor can request an extension of time and the reasons for doing so.

One crucial clause to look for is the clause that allows the contractor to request an extension of time for certain causes of delay. It is important to understand the scope of the clause, including any tight limits on when extensions of time can be granted. Contractors should also take note of any requirements to give a certain period of notice to the other party to the contract.

Another important clause to review is the liquidated damages clause. This clause determines the amount of damages that the contractor must pay to the owner if the project is not completed on time. It is essential to understand the relationship between the liquidated damages clause and the extension of time clause.

Furthermore, the contract may outline specific steps that a contractor must follow when requesting an extension of time, including providing written notice of the delay, providing supporting evidence, and updating the schedule for completion of work. Understanding and following these procedures can prevent disputes and ensure that the extension of time is properly granted.

Common clauses regarding time extensions

In most construction contracts, there are clauses that specifically deal with time extensions. These clauses will typically define the types of events or circumstances that will allow a builder to request an extension of time, the procedures that must be followed when requesting an extension, and the consequences of granting an extension. It is important to be aware of these clauses and to understand how they apply to your specific project.

One of the most common types of clauses is a force majeure clause. This clause essentially allows for an extension of time if the project is delayed due to events beyond the control of either the builder or the homeowner. Examples of events that might trigger a force majeure clause include natural disasters, strikes, and other unforeseeable events. These clauses will typically require the party seeking the extension to provide notice within a certain timeframe and may require the party to take reasonable steps to mitigate the impact of the event.

Another common clause is the variation clause. This clause allows for an extension of time if the homeowner requests a change to the project that results in a delay. For example, if the homeowner decides to change the type of flooring after construction has already started, this could result in a delay that would allow the builder to request an extension of time. It is important to note that not all variations will necessarily result in a delay and an extension of time, so it is important to carefully review the specific terms of the variation clause.

Delay events clauses are also common in construction contracts. These clauses typically specify certain events that will allow for an extension of time, such as delays caused by the weather or by a third party. Again, it is important to carefully review the specific terms of the clause to determine if a delay event has occurred and if it will result in an extension of time.

Understanding these common clauses and how they apply to your specific project is critical in avoiding disputes and ensuring that your project is completed on time. By carefully reviewing the contract and understanding the specific terms related to time extensions, builders can avoid unnecessary delays and ensure that they are fairly compensated for any extensions granted.

Requirements for requesting an extension of time

Once a builder has determined that they need to request an extension of time, there are specific requirements they must follow to ensure their request is valid. Failure to follow these requirements can lead to a dispute with the homeowner and could potentially result in a breach of contract.

Firstly, the builder must ensure that they provide the request for an extension of time in writing to the homeowner or superintendent. This written request should include the number of additional days required to complete the work, details of the delay, and any supporting evidence.

Additionally, the builder should include any extra details of steps taken to avoid the delay or to mitigate its effects. It is important to keep in mind that the builder must show that external factors and not their underperformance caused the delay. The builder must also show that they are otherwise performing well as a contractor on the project.

Finally, the builder should include an updated schedule of when the work will be completed. This updated schedule should consider the additional time requested and any other factors that may affect the completion date. Providing an updated schedule can help to ensure that everyone involved in the project is aware of the new timeline and can plan accordingly. By meeting these requirements, the builder can ensure that their request for an extension of time is valid and can help to prevent any potential disputes or issues down the line.

Consequences of not following the procedure

Not following the proper procedure for requesting an extension of time can have serious consequences for builders. If a builder fails to follow the procedure set out in the contract, the owner may be entitled to claim liquidated damages for any delay in completion of the project. This can result in significant financial losses for the builder. Additionally, the owner may also be entitled to terminate the contract and engage another builder to complete the work, further adding to the losses for the original builder. Therefore, it is important for builders to understand the procedure for requesting an extension of time and to follow it carefully to avoid any disputes or negative consequences down the track.


In conclusion, as a builder, it is essential to understand the importance of checking the fine print on time extensions. The terms of a construction contract can have a significant impact on your project, so it is crucial to review and understand them before signing. By being aware of the common clauses regarding time extensions and the requirements for requesting an extension of time, you can avoid any disputes and delays down the track. As a solicitor and construction lawyer with over 10 years of experience, I am here to assist you with any legal advice and representation you may require. Contact me to discuss your Extension of Time concerns and how I can assist you in achieving your desired outcome.