The Delays Factors And Their Impact Construction Essay

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Introduction of the Topic

It has been found out that there are lots of projects delays in the construction Industry in South Africa. These delays are affecting the South African economy and also create poverty to our country. According to the research that has been conducted so far it shows that these problem are mainly due to Poor Project planning, Poor time management, Poor Quality assurance, Delays in claims, Inconvenienced Material Supply, Climate Changes and Poor project management etc.

The problem of delays in construction industry is a worldwide marvel. In South Africa you found out only 30% of construction project were completed on time. KZN province has been found out that it is the one of the province which experiences more delays compering to other provinces. Seven out of ten projects surveyed in KZN are suffered delayed in their execution.

Scelo Mhlongo is conducting the survey to identify the reasons for these delays and the prevention procedures which can be used to minimise this delays. He emphasized that timely delivery of the project within budget and to level of quality standard specified by the clients is an index of successful project delivery.

Scelo Mhlongo believes that failure to achieve targeted time, budget cost and specified quality result in various unexpected negative effects on the project

Normally, when the projects are delayed, the cost implication will be negatively toward the success of the project and that can lead to delays of the project or the failure of the project.

The normally practise usually allow some other funds to be reserved as from the contract price for the contingencies and this has to be done as the standard practise.

The lists of the following things were obtained during the research from different sources, main causes of delays in construction industry are:

Unprofessional project planning.

Poor communication among stake holders.

Mistakes on designs.

Delays on material supply.

Delays on making decision making.

Financial problems.

Material poor supply on site.

Problematical cash flows during construction.

Higher quantities

Bad management by the contractor.

Execution bureaucracy in the owners organisations

Notification of extra works

Change of condition on site

Notification date to proceed with work.

Financial matters

Payments of completed work

Subcontractor's contradiction of work.

Contractual relationship of the stake holders.

Clients poor consultation regarding time and cost.

Professional team experience.

Quality management system.

Delays periods for approvals of test and inspections.

Political influence

Social influence

Site accidents

Negotiation during construction

Improper material orders.

Conflict among deferent stake holders

Religious factors

Weather condition

Conflicts of the drawing and specification

All the above mentioned were the answers obtained from deferent sources and some are explained and referenced according to their sources.

Research Methodology

The consultation with various companies and various Departments was conducted with regard the main causes of the project delays in the construction industry. Internet researching has also been done to find the causes of delays and solution to avoid these delays.

Constrains experienced on the research

Some interviewees were refusing to give their opinions with regards the research that was conducted, other promised that to provide their views via email, however they didn't respond.

Cost occurred during the research

Travelling expenses in conducting the interviews, trying to get newspaper articles and using internet cafes to get more and further information.

Findings (Analysis and answers)

In consultation with deferent companies and departments they responded in the topic and the mentioned some many things related to the topic.

The brief of the responses from the some interviewees are given.

The senior Project manager from DOHS Mr J Folly was consulted and he said most of the project delays are mainly due to the poor project planning which use to be done by consultants companies.

Mr Stephen Crabtree from CHS Developments (Implementing Agents) said the project failure and delays are most caused by the poor time planning by the Professional teams which are involved in the project.

The senior engineer from Bigen Africa (Structural Engineers) said the contractor related issues are most main courses of the delays.

The interview was done with Mkulu Housing construction company (Contractor) with regards the Delays on the construction project, they said if the client cannot pay the construction company on time that can cause a lot of delays on the project and the site foremen said sometimes poor material supply can be a part of delays as well as Climate changes.

Critical, Non-Critical Delays and Float

The project activities in a schedule are 2 types, critical and non-critical. The non-critical activities have certain number of days (float) where the activity can be delayed without delaying the whole project. For example five days float means that the activity can be delayed up to five days without delaying the whole project. The critical activities have zero or less float which means that each delay day will delay the whole project. Determining which activities are critical and non-critical depends on the durations and logic of the sequence of activities. Rebuilding the schedule after the fact, determining which activities are critical and which ones are non-critical and establishing the logic, which usually changes through the project, takes a highly technical research of the documents. Some assumptions and judgments may have to be taken during the analysis.

Excusable and Non-Excusable Delays

Excusable delays simply mean delays at no fault to the contractor. In this case a time extension is owed to the contractor. Non-excusable delays are delays due to the contractor's fault. A detailed revision of the contract's terms and conditions is critical to properly classify the type of each delay identified in the analysis.

Compensable and Non-Compensable Delays

Compensable delays are delays where the delayed party is owed money to compensate for the loss due to the delay. Non-compensable delay is a delay where a time extension is owed but no compensation is owed to the delayed party. For example, some contracts specify that delays due to reasons beyond the control of the owner and the contractor are delays where a time extension is granted but no compensation is paid to the delayed party. A good understanding of the contract terms is critical to the expert analysing the delay claim.

Non-critical and critical delays

There are two types of scheduled project activities, non-critical and critical. The non- critical is where the number of days can be delayed but not delaying the whole project. The critical is where every day delayed can delay the whole project. To evaluate the critical and non- critical depends on a periods and programme of the project. Revising the programme after the fact, it give the idea which activities are critical and those which are not critical, this usually change through the project. Other assumptions and changes may have to done during the analysis.

Excusable and Non-Excusable Delays

Excusable delays are when the contractor has no fault. When the contractor have to be given extension. Non-excusable are when the contractor is 100% on fault. The most detailed revision of the contractor's terms and conditions is critical to properly divide the types of delayed.

Non-Compensable and Compensable

Non-Compensable is where the time extension is owed but no compensation is owed to the delay party. Compensation this is where the delayed party has an outstanding funds to compensate for the loss due to delay.

Concurrent Delays

Other analyst just lists the delays calculate the delays days and add them up and claim the total number of delayed days. The recording of each of this days is critical important. Sometimes we find 3 delay causes that occurred at within the same period. The schedule and the actual site events have to be examined at the start date of each one of these delays to analyse its impact. We may find that only one of the three concurrent delays had an impact on the critical path of the project. After plugging that in the updated schedule, we can find out the new completion date of the whole schedule.

Poor planning

The following story courted from internet research shows how the feasibility study delays the project in planning stage and it also shows the important of appointing good consultants companies and good construction companies.

Poor feasibility study delays projects

15 Nov 2011 - Story by Roi Bala

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Roi Bala, says a poor-quality feasibility study produced by a local company has caused delays in the construction of two roads.

The two, capital-intensive road construction projects are envisioned for Zulu land and South Coast Regions.

Quotations for the 85 kilometer Richards Bay road and the 98 kilometer Hardin road, to be financed through a loan from the National government, were scheduled to be handed over to the works ministry about three months ago.

However, Roi, told us recently that the study presented to him by Consulting Services Africa, a company tasked with conducting the pre-feasibility, feasibility and designs for the two roads, was of poor quality and was technically flawed.

This, he said, was the primary reason for relieving the company of its duties to hasten the project that has so far faced unnecessary delays.

Roi said the company was supposed to finalize its work on August 30 this year but they only submitted the results on October 14, about 11 months after they were mandated to carry out the job in November 2010.

"The quality of the study is poor and it was late," Roi said, adding that the determination was made by a team of engineers from the Roads Authority who did the inspection on behalf of the ministry.

However, he remains optimistic that construction will begin by mid-2013 on both roads as the ministry has appointed a new company to conduct the feasibility study and do the designs. The availability of the study will determine the total cost of the project.

"I cannot tell the total amount at this stage but we will surely know this when the study is completed. I believe that construction will commence in May 2013."

Meanwhile, the PS dismissed a report in yesterday's Sunday Sun newspaper alleging that he and his Minister "by-passed" tender rules and procedures by awarding the tender to the contractors.

He explained that two companies were appointed to construct the roads in "compliance with conditions" of the soft loan from the National government that came with pre-conditions.

"We appointed two companies from the three that had applied.

The National government set conditions that construction of the two roads will be done by their own companies," Roi said.

"The National government is not the only ones who give loans to government with strings attached, as this appears an international norm as western governments also often insist on consultants from their countries to oversee capital projects funded by them."

He, however, stated that these companies were advised to have South African components upon appointment.

The PS further expressed dissatisfaction that the Sunday Sun chose to ignore the two appointments that he made with them concerning the same issue.

He said the reporter insisted on the interview being conducted telephonically or via email but he said the reason he wanted the reporter at his office was to show him documents, which could not be done over the phone because the documents are technical and are laced with technical jargon.

Many roads constructed in recent times, especially in the north, have come under heavy criticism lately for their poor workmanship.

Government has been losing money because of having to repair roads that were shoddily built, according to Roi Bala.

Land Auditing

during the implementation or the feasibility study of the project, if consultants do not plan the project in according it has great impact during the implementation of the project such as the a land audit, the reality that during the construction phase of the project the poor planning by the land auditor may raise real delays in the future.

Environmental Report

If the environmentalist do not do full report during the planning stage, the changes that may be done during the construction stage it may completely delays the project because any changes that can be done during the construction stage its completely delays the project no matter how minor the change is as long as it affect the production on site.

Geotechnical report

Mr J Folly said it happened on one of his project that the geotechnical engineer gave wrong report with regards the soil conditions on site, The civil engineer who were designing the foundation of the project designed the foundations to suit the soil condition of the site, during the construction stage it was noted that the designed foundations were not suitable for the conditions of the soil so the engineers were to redesign the foundation for the whole project and that took the engineers 2 months to redesign the foundations.

Social facilitation-

the social facilitator have to make sure that the community understand the project during the planning stage, however it may happen that the community does not accept the project as the consultants which but social facilitator has a responsibility to make sure that before the project get to construction everything is well iron out. The employments labours have to be in place to avoid dispute within the area surrounding the project. Social facilitator to make sure that all community stake holders understand the daily rate for labours and for local subcontractor to avoid striking of employees which used to main causes for the delays.

Prevention of poor project planning

All professional team must be penalised for any delay that may occur during the construction stage of the project regardless how minor the delay is. Retention must be hold back to until the end of the project.

Poor time management

According to Mr Crabtree he thinks that all delays are caused by the poor time management and time planning. The critical time to be planned properly is the first three months of the project where all stake holders have to understand struggling to understand the real nature of the project; the employees do not understand the reality of the project. Time wasted by suppliers where they fail to deliverer the material on time on site, all this minor time delays has negative impact in the programme of the project, however the professional must always have the recovery plan for delay that may occur on the project.

The site agents waste time during the beginning of the project and if the contractor sticks on its programme during the beginning of the project the delays are being minimised.

Prevention of poor time management

All stake holders must be forced to produce their programme which goes together with recover plan in case of delayed occurred.

Slow decision making

As construction industry surrounded by challenges and problems, it cannot be easy to manage the project if you always depend on other people decision. The site agent who delays to take fast decision can delay the project because other decision needs to be taken on site without consultation of other role players however urgent decisions are not advisable.

Designs arrows

According to article by Mr Mooler, the change of designs during the construction stage can affect the turnaround time of the project as it happened at Port Shepstone Hospital which was on a construction stage and the engineers realise that the type of foundation for the project were wrong and they were required to be changed at that time the contractor was already started the excavation of foundation. The contractor was to apply for the extension of time because they were to backfill and closes all excavation and start to excavate new foundations.

Contractors related factors

Contractor improper planning

According to Mr Terrence' local contractors often fails to have a workable programme at the planning stage. This unsuccessful is consistent with the lack of organized site management and inadequate contractors experience toward the project.

Contractor's poor site management

Mr Terrence believes that contractor's poor site management is one of significant causes in causing the construction delays. The result of this project show the local contractors face shortage in site planning, implementing and controls. A poor site management result in postponements in replying to the subjects that ascend and causes negative impact on the overall wok progress.

Inadequate contractor's experience

Mr Terence specified that insufficient contractor knowledge was an significant issue and this could be related to the contractors awarding procedures where most project were gave to the lowermost bidder. A contractor with insufficient knowledge cannot strategy and manages the project correctly and this can principal to terrible values.

Problems with subcontractors

According to Mr Terrence : he says typical vast schemes; there are many subcontractors working for main contractor. If the subcontractor is talented, the project can be completed on time as planned. The project can be delayed if the subcontractors under performs because of inadequate experienced or capability, High degree of subcontracting in South Africa leads to the high danger of delays and this indications to inefficiencies in the South African construction industry.

Shortage of material on site

Shortage of basic material like stones, cement, sand, and iron can cause major delays in project. Since South Africa is a country that is emerging very fast, often times demands beats the supply and this reasons values to increase. The contractors postpone the purchase activities until the prices decrease. MR Terence examined material and equipment finding delays in highway project in KZN and found these delays to cause overrun.

Labour Supply

Terence said the quality and quantity of labours source can have major influence on the projects. About 22% of the workers in South African construction industry are foreign workers, Mainly from Mozambique and Zimbabwe. A insufficient of them are unlawful workers and their work excellence is comparatively high when compared to local labours. The low quality and productivity of the local labours have impact on the project progress and efficiency. The unlawful labours are often caught by the South African immigrant officials and deported and this caused shortage of quality labours and pond in the construction industry.

Equipment obtainability and let-down

According to Terrence many contractors do not own that are obligatory for the construction work. They rent equipment's when required.

Mistake during construction stage

The errors throughout the construction stage can be due to accident, insufficient preparation or miscommunication between the gatherings. Though analysing the effect of the delays, all respondents were common in ranking highly by the respondents. Any delays in the project can lead to cost and time overrun and these two are linked. Whenever there postponements, there are arguments as to who should bear the accountability and the cost.In dangerous cases some projects might be totally uncontrolled. About 22% of South African projects are uncontrolled.

Lack of communication of parties

Terrence said since thee many parties in the project, the communication between the parties is very critical for the achievement of the project.

Time overrun

Terrence thinks that clients connected and contractors connected factors have influence on the time overrun. Out of ten most important causes of delays discussed earlier, six causes belong to the clients related factors and contractors connected factors.

Price overrun

Contractors related factors such as change orders and mistakes and discrepancies in the contract documents resulting in the cost overrun. Correlation analysis between cost and time overrun indicated a strong linkage.


He believes that clients related factors, contracts related, contract relationship related and external factors have impact on disputed that ascend during the sequence of the project.


When the parties fail to resolves the dispute, dispute to settle by arbitration process. A component third party can relax the disputes cordially without going to the court.

Payments related factors

Clients finance and payments for completed work

Mr. Stephen ( Mkhulu Housing) said construction works involve huge amount of money and most of the contractors find it very problematic to bear the weighty daily construction expenses when the payments are delayed. Work progress can be delayed to the late payments from the client because there is inadequate cash flow to provision construction expenditures especially for those contractors who are not financially sound.

Subcontractor's payments delays

If the subcontractors are not paid on time by the main contractor they tend to pull back or slowdown the production on site, and if they are not satisfied with the payments that they get it might also delay the project. (Mr Stephen)

Supplier's payments

Supplier has to be paid on time as we all know that all material purchases have to be done before material delivered on site.

Wages and salaries payments

Delays on wages and salaries can lead to striking of workers which tends to let down the project and delay the project. Unsatisfying wages to employees may also demotivate the workers and they may not produce as they are supposed to produce.


It is recommend that at the planning stage; the qualified and experienced professional team have to be appointed to make sure that planning of the project is good. All appointed professional teams have to be provided with stipulated time frame of the project and they must plan their task according to the given Time frames, failing to comply with the given time frame by the professional team, strictly penalties must be applied. Experienced and qualified quality controllers and supervisors have to be employed and quality management workshop has to be arranged at least once a month. Suppliers have to be given delivery time frames and if they are failing to comply with the given time frame, penalties for late material supply have to be applied. Penalties have to be paid by the client if he fails to pay on time. Proper planning in terms of production during different weather conditions have to be conducted.


In conclusion the research is identifying the main causes and recommendation that can be used to avoid the delays. The final report will assist those who are involve in construction industry by giving views and the understanding the reasons that causes delays.

I investigated the causes and effect of the delays facing South Africa industry. I identified main causes of delays and ten most important causes

Contractors improper planning

Contractors poor site management

Inadequate contractors experience

Problems with subcontractors

Shortage of material on site

Labour Supply

Equipment availability and failure

Lots of question was raised and answers during the research and some recommendations were made, the final report is going to give overall