Partial re-opening of Construction in Sydney – Points to consider regarding Delay and Disruption

The NSW Government’s announcement today regarding re-opening of sites in certain areas of Sydney is welcome news for the industry. As expected, the re-opening has come with some restrictions intended to limit the spread of COVID, even outside the “eight LGAs of concern”. Of immediate note is that workers from those eight LGAs are not permitted to travel to other parts of Sydney to work.

This poses significant complexities in getting construction re-started, and ramping up to pre-shutdown productivity, on sites across Sydney. Trades or subcontractors with workers living in those LGAs will not be able to re-mobilise their full workforce, which will slow (or in some cases, prevent) work from progressing. This may have knock-on effects to following trades on the same project.

This may in turn lead to difficulties for affected projects to retain those following trades, as subcontractors seek every opportunity to be as productive as possible in order to mitigate the impact of a very difficult period.

The delay and disruption impacts of these events will be complex and potentially difficult for parties to contracts to demonstrate or reach consensus on. We recommend:

  • Recording the status of the project now, in detail;
  • Keeping accurate, daily records of personnel on site, work achieved, delays encountered and non-productive time, along with recording the direct and indirect impacts of reduced personnel numbers or delayed material deliveries;
  • Recording those resources which, due to COVID restrictions, are not able to attend the site.

Consistent with our previous advice on COVID-related delays, effort expended in good contemporaneous record-keeping will:

  • Assist in assessing the true programme impacts of the Construction Pause;
  • Help to minimise the risk of unnecessary and distracting disputes;
  • Keep the focus on a smooth transition back to productive construction in Greater Sydney.

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