What If The General Contractor Wants To Scrap The Baseline Schedule?
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What If The General Contractor Wants To Scrap The Baseline Schedule?

In our questions and answers series, we’ll answer some common questions that we receive from readers of our Ideas & Insights section. Here’s the first question.

Question:

Let’s say a General Contractor is weeks behind schedule on a 12-month project and has replaced the Site Superintendent and Project Executive. The new Project Executive would like to scrap the baseline and start anew. If the owner were to entertain this suggestion to develop a new schedule, what would be some things we would likely need to have clear before proceeding? If the revised schedule is approved, would this mean the owner has inadvertently provided a time extension and therefore could not assess liquidation damages?

Answer:

The first piece of good news here is the contract has gotten rid of the Project Executive and Site Superintendent that weren’t performing. And the new Project Executive sees the schedule as an important management tool. The schedule is a management tool. If it doesn’t reflect the contractor’s plan to complete the work, it’s useless. If the Project Executive wants to update the schedule so that it reflects his (or her) plan for completing the project, then I think you should be supportive of this effort, particularly if the contract completion date has already passed. By the way, it is common for contractors that have fallen behind schedule to revise the schedule for completion of the work. These are often called revised, recovery, or completion schedules.

Here are some of the things you need to be careful about:

  1. The revised schedule might not be in compliance with the contract requirements or good scheduling practice. Just because it is a revised schedule does not mean it is a good schedule. You need to scrutinize the schedule for the same kinds of problems as if it was the contractor’s original schedule submission – faulty logic, unrealistic durations, float sequestration, open ends, unnecessary lags and leads, inappropriate constraints, failing to include all of the contract work, failure to allow sufficient time for the owner’s work, etc.

  2. You can accept the schedule without that acceptance being a “time extension.” You can still collect liquidated damages. In fact, if you feel like you need to take a hard line, which I wouldn’t necessarily advise, you can probably withhold liquidated damages based on the contractor’s schedule submission showing the project finishing late. Talk to your attorney before you do this.

  3. Be careful of “waiver.” Your contract may say that finishing late can be treated as grounds for termination of the contractor. By not terminating based on a scheduled late completion, some might argue that you’ve waived your right to do so (for that reason). If termination is being considered, please consult with appropriate technical and legal expertise before accepting a schedule that shows late completion of the project.

  4. Also, the schedule is likely to include activities that point to alleged delays caused by the owner. If it does and you don’t think the activities are appropriate, at a minimum you need to comment on that fact. You can still approve the schedule (see item #3), but you need to indicate that it’s “accepted as noted.”

  5. Make sure the revised schedule is updated every month (or more frequently, if the project demands it).

Scott Lowe is a Principal of TRAUNER and is an expert in the areas of critical path method scheduling, construction claim preparation and evaluation, and specification writing. He can be reached at scott.lowe@traunerconsulting.com

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