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Common causes for delays in construction (and ways to prevent them)

Posted on 25/04/2019 at 10:17 AM by in Blog

How many projects have you worked on that have suffered from delays?

Delays are a nightmare for anyone involved in the construction industry, from workers to project managers to the client themselves.

Having to stop or put a project on hold because of various reasons is a frustrating experience, and usually results in extra costs (adding to said frustration). From budget issues to bad weather to decision making, there are many, many reasons that could be to blame for delays in construction projects.

We know that a lot of the time, things are out of your hands and there is nothing that can be done, but here are a few things to think about during the planning process that could speed things up.


Budgeting a project accordingly is absolutely essential to ensuring a smooth process, and realistically mapping out the cost is so important.

This includes estimating your costs, identifying any risks or potential reasons for delays early and staying organised. Failure to do so will only leave you at a disadvantage, and the room for error will be much larger. For instance, understanding whether there are any pipes and cables under the ground that will need to be diverted or whether there is enough capacity in the local utility networks to sustain your proposed development. Both could cause considerable added cost to your project.

Not allowing enough or being unrealistic with the budget can lead to you trying to cut corners to stay on budget, which is never a good idea. The use of estimation software can be very helpful in planning exactly how much a project is going to cost, and allowing some room in case of the likes of delays.

If you’d like some tips on how to keep project costs under control, check out this article we wrote a while back.

Injuries/site damage

Another common reason for projects to temporarily shut down is due to damage on site, or injuries to employees in some cases.

Construction work can be dangerous (especially if not done properly), and health and safety should be a priority for any construction company. Work can be shut down if there are any major incidents, such as burst pipes or electrical cables that have been struck.

Whether it’s down to lack of experience or not knowing what’s buried underground, striking an underground utility can have fatal consequences.

To avoid this, ensure that a utility search is done before any work commences and everyone is made aware of the potential dangers. Utility plans can accurately map out any potentially dangerous utilities and allow you to work around them in a safe manner, reducing the risk factor by a lot in the process.

Cornerstone are the UK’s leading underground utility search experts, and have been providing cost effective and time efficient plans for over 15 years now. To learn more about our fantastic service, click here.


Weather plays a large role in slowing down the process of construction, and can cause projects to stop for days on end in some cases.

Because the majority of construction work is done outside, it’s hard not to think of the weather as a factor that could hinder the process. Heavy rain, hail, snow and fog can all make it hard to work, and will usually result in costly delays.

A bad weather forecast is nightmare fuel for project managers, as falling behind on a project is something that should be avoided at all costs.

But how exactly can you avoid the weather? The answer – modular construction.

Modular construction is a concept that has taken the industry by storm as of late, and we’ve written about it in a couple of our articles over the last few months.

The idea of modular construction is to build everything off-site in factories and important all of the sections once the work has commenced. This concept has many benefits too, with a huge reduction in delays due to weather and noise pollution because work is done inside factory walls.


One of the hardest things to control is the amount of waiting that comes with any construction project, i.e, waiting for decisions to be made, things to be delivered, etc.

Waiting on the higher ups to make decisions can be a lengthy task, and something that can easily slow down the process. It’s important that any decisions that need approval from elsewhere are communicated as early on as possible to avoid having to wait and cease work.

Disorganisation of workers can often be a factor too, slowing down the work and leaving people not knowing what they are supposed to be working on. This is usually down to poor communication between members of the team, and can easily be avoided.

A key factor to keeping everything under control is to have a great construction project manager on-hand to oversee the project. Communication is a big part of this, and is a very important quality to have.

Having a strong construction manager is the key to any successful project, and we’ve even highlighted the qualities needed in a great PM in this article.

Unrealistic deadlines

Lastly, short deadlines can play a major role in delaying a project, as work cannot be done in such a short timeframe.

Don’t set an unrealistic timeframe just to win a project, as it will end up going south in the long run. Trying to get work completed within a reduced timeframe will end up having an effect on the quality of work, which shouldn’t be happening.

During the bidding process, it’s really important to set a realistic and manageable deadline time that leaves room for delays.


There’s no denying that delays can sometimes be unavoidable, but there are definitely a couple of things to consider in the early stages that might have a positive impact on reducing the effect that costly delays can have on a project.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Is there more we can be doing to try and reduce delays within the construction industry? Be sure to let us know and keep an eye on the Cornerstone blog for more interesting industry articles.

If you’d like to take part in our survey on the construction delays, click here.

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