Delays are a common and frustrating part of any construction project and are a frequent source of disputes. For that reason, most construction contracts include clauses for time extensions As a contractor, it is important to know when you can request an extension of time and to follow the correct process when requesting it. You also need to ensure any request does not create confusion or problems later in the project. This article will set out your rights as a contractor to request an extension of time and set out the correct way to make any request.

Extensions of Time – Basic Rules

Either party, whether the contractor or owner, can request an extension of time on a construction project. Generally, when an extension of time is agreed on and granted, neither party can later claim liquidated damages.

Liquidated damages are a pre-agreed amount of compensation for loss or damage as a result of a delay.

This reflects a key principle in construction contracts that a party is not able to benefit from a contract by relying on their own breach of the contract. In other words, as a contractor, you cannot request an extension of time (and limit any claim for liquidated damages) when you caused the delay. Therefore, as a contractor, you can claim an extension of time when:

  • you are not the cause of any delays; and
  • those delays are out of your control.

If you claim an extension of time, you and the owner will agree to a new completion date, and the other rights under the contract will remain.

When Can a Contractor Request a Time Extension?

As a contractor, any request for an extension of time should be for reasons outside of your control. Common reasons for delays requested by contractors can include:

  • delays in the delivery of essential materials;
  • delays resulting from variations requested by the owner;
  • extreme or unusually bad weather;
  • other disputes relating to the project.

You should be able to provide evidence to show that external factors, and not your underperformance, caused the delay. You should also aim to show that you are otherwise performing well as a contractor on the project.

What Does the Contract Say?

Always check the fine print on time extensions and your rights and obligations relating to those time extensions. Most contracts will include a clause allowing you to request an extension of time for certain causes of delay. Many include tight limits on when extensions of time can be granted. These clauses will often also include a requirement to give a certain period of notice to the other party to the contract. It is essential that as the contractor, you carefully follow any procedure for requesting an extension of time to avoid any disputes down the track.

How to Apply for an Extension of Time

Your request for an extension of time should be in writing to the other party (or superintendent, contract administrator or relevant person on the project) and should include:

  • how many additional days you need to complete the work;
  • details of when and how the delay occurred, including any supporting evidence;
  • any extra detail of steps you took to avoid the delay or otherwise deal with the cause of the delay;
  • an updated schedule of when the work will be completed.

Key Takeaways

As a contractor, you can request extensions of time in a construction project. However, you are only able to do so where the delays are due to circumstances outside your control. If the delays are due to your performance, the owner may have a claim for liquidated damages against you. It is important to follow the procedure set out in any time extension clauses in the construction contract and give full reasons for any delay when requesting the extension. You should also ensure the extension is approved in writing and the updated completion date confirmed by all parties to avoid disputes down the track. If you have any questions about requesting an extension of time under a construction contract, contact LegalVision’s construction lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy