Holding Logic And Planned Durations While Updating Owner-Approved Critical Path Schedules

by May 22, 2020Informative articles

Typical large-scale construction projects require that a contractor submit a number of deliverables to an owner for their approval during the pre-construction phase of a contract.

Generally speaking, the approval of these deliverables culminate in the owner granting the contractor permission to proceed with the construction of the project.

The submission of a detailed Critical Path Schedule (“schedule”) is traditionally among the key deliverables to be approved during this time.

As we know, a contractor’s development of their schedule demonstrates the intended
sequencing of activities to achieve one or more contract milestones as prescribed within a contract (submission dates, commissioning dates, interim and final completion dates, substantial completion, etc) through to ultimate contract completion.

An owner’s acceptance of the schedule should indicate compliance with the conditions of contract, and that the activities, logic, durations, lead times, etc, are in line with reasonable expectations in executing the contract.

As construction activities progress, regular updates to the schedule are performed in order to demonstrate the health of a project relative to prescribed deliverable dates. For a variety of reasons, updates will often show a slippage to the schedule (specifically the Critical Path). The task then becomes how to appropriately address the management of the schedule, as the owner will likely insist on a course-corrective solution to recover time lost. A suggested solution would look as follows:

First of all, do not make changes to your approved Schedule for the purpose of recovering time.

This includes, without limitation, changes to predecessor / successor logic, start / finish constraints, concurrencies, and planned durations.

The approved schedule should be reserved for updating a project with the logic and activities that have been agreed to, as well as inserting delay events that would demonstrate impact to the schedule.

The reason for this suggestion is that by making material changes to the schedule, the owner can take a position on future delay claims that changes to schedule logic were not agreed upon, therefore delay impacts can’t be properly be demonstrated. There is merit to this position, and it can quickly take the feet out from any delay claim.

The second part of this suggested solution requires satisfying the owner’s request as to how time will be recovered. For this, a duplicate of the approved schedule (either in part, or as a whole, depending on circumstance) can be altered to produce a proposed time recovery solution. This could include making logic changes by developing concurrencies in work, modifying working hours and / or days, altering durations with changes to resources, etc. It is important to identify that the recovery solution is not to be considered as an update to the schedule.

In fact, schedule updates should continue to be submitted on a regular basis,
regardless of where things stand with a recovery solution. Provided the execution of the proposed recovery plan is successful, the approved schedule will recover the time slippage, and the project is back on track without compromise.

It goes without saying that there are dozens of circumstances and scenarios where both parties can, and should, agree to a revised schedule after construction has commenced. Future blogs will drill down into some of these situations.

Jesse Noonan

Jesse Noonan


Jesse Noonan has over 25 years of experience in the heavy civil construction industry, with an emphasis in structural and highway works.

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