In this video, Jim explains that the definition of time is often established in the contract documents for a construction project, and discusses the importance of understanding the established definition when working with activities and changes on a construction schedule.
- The concept of time is fairly simple and straightforward. But often the definition of time is set in the contract provisions. This can be done in different ways within a contract. If a contract stipulates a total number of days to complete a project, it needs to call out whether it's specifying calendar days or work days. If it specifies work days, those have to be defined. An example would be a typical public works project contract that states the contractor has 180 working days from the notify to precede to complete the project, with working days being defined as Monday through Friday, excluding national holidays.
Pretty straightforward. Or it might simply state that the contractor has 180 calendar days from the date of the notice to precede to complete the project. Again, both of these statements are fairly straightforward, but they are both vastly different. If I only have 180 calendar days, the required date for completion is a whole lot sooner then specifying 180 working days. The intent of both statements is clear, but once the contract gets signed and then filed away, people tend to just revert and start using the term days, and this can get you in trouble if everyone in the conversation is not on the same page or not aware of which definition of days this project is using.
Let me throw out an example, I had a change order on a project where they added some work to our scope. It was a simple scope change that we and our subcontractors had been anticipating. When they gave us the go ahead, I did what I'm supposed to do and I fired off a quick memo confirming the price and that this would take us 30 days to complete. To me, and all of my subcontractors, we all meant 30 working days, because when we plan the work on paper, we're dealing in numbers like hours and days, so to us, days are always working days.
Unfortunately for me, the original contract for this project which we executed a year earlier used the language of calendar days. When they issued a change order for the cost and the 30 day extension of time I requested, the legal definition of a day reverted back to the original contract language. And just because this is the kind of luck I have, this was all around mid-November in the US, with lots of holidays approaching, so the time extension that I asked for and the time extension I got were two vastly different things.
Keep that in mind when you're talking about how many days something will take. The other issue regarding time and the contract language centers around the concept of who owns the float time in a schedule. We talked about float earlier and I told you we'd come back to it so here we are. When we have float time in a schedule, and an event occurs that impacts the schedule, something like rain delays, or delays in information, or owner-supplied equipment, things that I as the contractor are due an extension of time for, we can end up in conversations about who owns the float time if that delay didn't affect that critical path that we defined.
For example, if I have an activity start date that gets pushed back due to the owner not delivering some owner-supplied equipment that we're supposed to install in the building that we're constructing for them, I'm typically going to ask for an extension of time equal to the number of days that they delayed giving me that equipment. However, if my schedule shows that the delay used up float time and it didn't affect the critical path, I may have an owner that comes back and says that I am not due any time extensions because the delay didn't affect the critical path, it only affected the float time.
They are in effect, claiming that they own the float time. Now, look at what this means when things don't go quite as planned later on, on the surface in that example, it may not seem like it matters who owns the float time. But, what if the owner used up all the float time and then I exceed my planned duration for installing that equipment? Now, ownership of the float becomes a big deal. By using up the float, the owner pushed this activity into the critical path, and by exceeding my planned duration, I pushed the end date of the project out.
If I own the float, I should be due those extra days as an extension of time in the contract, because if they had delivered the equipment on time, my extended activity duration would still be inside the float, and the project wouldn't be delayed. This can bring up complex legal issues and to avoid these battles, some contracts between an owner and a general contractor will try to specify who owns the float time. Even then, it can be complicated as the schedules get updated and items move into the critical path.
Did you use up your float time, or did you use the owner's float time? And, will this even have any effect? The legal implications here are a little beyond the scope of this course, but these are good concepts to be aware of when you're updating schedules. Don't ignore items that are not in the critical path, just because you think it doesn't matter at this time. Keep those schedules updated and be accurate. If you want to read more about this concept of who owns the float in a construction schedule, check out my website.
This course identifies the steps needed to develop a proper plan, and demonstrates how that plan is transformed into a construction schedule. Throughout the course, instructor Jim Rogers shares examples of his own successes and failures in the areas of construction planning and scheduling, so as to lend real-world context to the concepts he covers.
- Types of schedules
- Planning versus scheduling
- Work breakdown structure
- Developing a schedule
- Creating a network model
- Assigning durations, costs, and resources
- Identifying the critical path
- Letting the software do the calculations
- Checking and updating the schedule
- Scheduling's impact on productivity