Time is one of the key constraints on any construction project. This is because construction projects are unique and time bound. Therefore, construction projects involve utilization of the limited resources to achieve project objectives within a target timeline. There are a number of the reasons why many construction projects are never completed in time. The following are top five causes of the construction project delays.

1. Poor Project Planning & Scheduling

Budget changes and scheduling conflicts are a major cause of construction project delays. Therefore, project planning is not only the one of the initial stages of construction project, but it can also contributes to many of the challenges faced on a project. Consequently, it is important to provide adequate time to plan a project properly. Poor planning can affect both financial and physical resources of a project.

In case the planned resources are found to be insufficient, delays are created as more resources are remobilized. A poor project plan can also lead to scheduling conflicts which result into delays. It is therefore imperative that activities on project are carefully scheduled to avoid any conflicts. This can be achieved using techniques such as the critical path method. The critical path method can identify the longest sequence of project activities that need to be completed so as to finish the project. This kind of analysis can done both manually and also using tools such as Microsoft Project and Primavera.

2. Design variations

Design variations are one of the major causes of project delays. While this problem mainly arises from the poor planning, it can also be attributed to level of understanding of the client’s vision as well as the practicality of the design. Design variations are not only consume time, but they can also be financial costly. This is because they may involve demolitions and introducing more expensive materials and equipment. In order to tackle the problems associated with design variations, strategies targeted at the causes of the design variations need to be implemented. Some of the common causes of design changes include:

  • Incomplete specifications
  • Technological constraints
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Differences between design and latent conditions

3. Project approvals & compliance

The world is now aiming at ensuring that construction projects meet safety and environmental regulations. As a result of this, some construction projects get trapped in the bureaucracy and politics involved in project approvals and compliance regulations. This leads to the delay of many construction projects. Therefore, it is important to ensure construction projects designed and implemented in a safe and environmentally friendly manner so as to avoid delays that may arise from project approvals.

4. Unfavorable Weather and Environmental Conditions

Whether it is rain, snow or dust storms, weather has a huge impact on the progress of a project. Weather impact a number of the things on a project such as the technology, materials and labour force. In case of adverse weather, delays occur as the resources being remobilized to ensure that the works on the project suit the weather conditions. Weather can also damage project assets such as materials and equipment, thereby causing setbacks.

5. Poor Communication

The success of construction projects relays greatly on project management systems , and these systems are highly dependent on good communication. Poor communication can affect a many aspects of a project such as the quality of work, project cost & duration as well as health and safety. It is therefore important to have a good communication plan and structure on a project to ensure that there is proper information flow in all aspects of the project.


Delays are a major challenge in any project. Therefore, it is important to have the right systems and tools to optimize the duration of a project. There are a number of project management tools that can help simply the process of the optimizing a project’s duration as shown in the chart below.


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