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Are you experiencing delays in construction work?

April 07, 2020

As of today construction sites are an essential services in all states and territories and therefore can remain open as long as you comply with the Government’s mandatory health requirements.

HIA recommends using the Making space on site: Industry guidelines to manage COVID-19 to assist you to meet these requirements.

Implementing and complying with these guidelines and the Government’s mandatory heath requirements may create the need to change the scheduling and carrying out of work to ensure site safety. This in turn may cause delays in the timing of the project.

COVID-19 may also cause some delays to supply chains, such as building materials which could impact your projects.

Your home building contract includes some protection for you to respond to delays, but every situation is different so it’s important to understand what changes you can and cannot act on if delays in your supply chain do start to impact your projects.

I have already signed my building contract - What should I do?

  1. Communicate with your clients. Open communication about any potential delay to the project is desirable to avoid surprises. If products or materials may be delayed you could discuss using an alternative and talk to your suppliers about product and material availability. Further information regarding product substitution
  2. Extension of time. If you know the works will be delayed due to circumstances beyond your control you can claim an extension of time in accordance with your contract. The contract generally requires that you specify the reason for the delay and the extension of time required.


Example: Your electrician is required to self-isolate due to close contact with a person confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 and you cannot continue with work until the electrician has completed their work. You try to find an alternate contractor but are unsure how successful this will be.

You should request an extension of time due to the self-isolation of your electrician for at least 2 weeks. HIA would recommend continuing to see if an alternate contractor can be engaged to carry out the work.

I am about to sign a building contract - What should I do?

The building period should reflect issues that will likely impact how long the job will take. You will now need to factor in the impact of COVID-19 on the building period.

How do I estimate the building period in light of COVID-19?

HIA recommends considering adding at least 2-4 weeks to your building period in order to accommodate delays associated with COVID-19. This time will also depend on:
  1. Talking to your suppliers to obtain estimates of any potential delays.
  2. Talking to your subcontractors to see if they have been affected by COVID-19 and what impact that may have on their ability to complete their work.
  3. Any specific clauses dealing with time allowances.
    In Queensland a specific clause regarding an additional time allowance in relation to, for example, the impact of the COVID-19 on the supply of building material may be of use.
    In other states and territories the existing HIA contract clauses should assist to deal with delays and extensions of time resulting from COVID-19.

At this stage, HIA does not recommend adding special conditions to the HIA contracts in response to COVID-19. This is because:

  • While the contract does not specifically refer to COVID-19 many circumstances that may arise due to the pandemic are dealt with by existing contractual provisions.
  • If not done correctly, adding special conditions may jeopardise the operation of other parts of the contract.
  • In such unusual times, it is preferred that builders and home owners work together to ensure the carrying out and completion of works safely and in a timely way. Often, overly prescriptive contractual provisions may work against this approach. 

You should contact a HIA Workplace Advisor on 1300 650 620 if you require assistance with making these amendments to the contract or would like additional information.


Coronavirus Response

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