Are disputes relating to delays and extensions of time linked to Covid-19 likely to start bubbling to the surface in the next few months? It has come to light from local press published by Aberdeen Journals Ltd that delays in a multi-million-pound construction of new schools in Aberdeen have been blamed on builders being scared to travel to the city due to coronavirus risks during a local lockdown last year.
During recent committee meetings to discuss progress with Aberdeen Council’s capital programme, year-long delays were announced in relation to the construction of replacement schools in three locations. These delays naturally could have significant practical and costs consequences for the parties. Sensibly it would appear that plans were also discussed during these meetings to ensure future projects are not as badly impacted by emergencies.
Delays and requests for extensions of time linked to Covid-19, often include reference to the impact of:
— The “stay at home” lockdown completely banning workers on site and also the need for “home-schooling”.
— A reduction in the numbers of workers allowed within the tight confines of a building site.
— Shortages in materials and labour due to self-isolation, positive Covid-19 tests and workers on furlough.
We updated about the Construction Leadership Council’s (“CLC”) focus on the construction sector working collaboratively during Covid-19 to avoid disputes earlier this year including tips for applying for and responding to requests for extensions of time.
The CLC also recently published a statement about ongoing construction product availability stating that “Demand for construction products remains high both in the UK and globally and is set to continue throughout 2021 in every sector. Unfortunately, this means the availability issues we are currently experiencing are likely to worsen before they improve”. Products causing particular concern include plastics, cement, aggregates, timber, steel, roof tiles, bricks and imported products such as screws, fixing, plumbing items, sanitaryware, shower enclosures, electrical products and appliances. You can read the CLC’s full statement here.
As mentioned in our previous update, we hope the focus on positivity and pragmatism rather than blame and resentment continues over the next months. However, as the “gloves come off” over the next few months and Government support for schemes such as the furlough scheme cease, the shift may inevitably change. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
If your construction project has been impacted by Covid-19 in some way and you either need to apply for an extension of time or respond to a request, or you need to prepare for either, please get in touch with our highly experienced Construction team.