Main Factors Causing Delays in Large Construction Projects: Evidence from New Zealand

Berlinda Lessing, Derek Thurnell, Serdar Durdyev


Construction delays occur frequently on large projects, resulting in not only the client getting their completed project later, but it can also have a major impact on the cost, duration and quality of the project. Delays can have a debilitating effect on all parties involved, as it’s often the cause of adversarial relationships, a feeling of apprehension and distrust between parties. The purpose of this research was to establish the main factors causing delays on large construction projects in Auckland and compare results with the situation in other countries. Construction managers and site managers with a minimum of 10 years’ experience working in large construction projects were surveyed, with both questionnaires and face-to-face interviews as methods, to collect quantitative as well as qualitative data. A significant factor that occurs often was “unforeseen ground conditions”, and was due to the fact that geological tests do not always predict the condition of the whole site. The participants in general agreed that the design group contributes most to construction delays through “lack of producing design documents on time, late instructions, and unclear and inadequate details on drawings.” These findings however are not generalizable, due to the small sample size, so further empirical research is suggested, on a larger scale, and surveying not just construction managers, but also other project team members, including the client.


Construction Industry; Delay; New Zealand; Contractor.

Full Text:



Abdullah, R., Abdul Rahman, I. and Azis, A.A.A. (2010). Causes of Delay in MARA Management Procurement Construction Projects. Journal of Surveying, Construction and Property, 8(1) 123-138.

Afshari, A., Khosravi, S., Ghorbanali, A., Borzabadi, M. and Valipour, M. (2011). Identification of causes of non-excusable delays of construction projects. Proceedings of the International Conference on E-business, Management and Economics.

Ahmed, S.M., Azhar, S., Castillo, M. and Kappagantula, P. (2002). Construction delays in Florida: An empirical study. Report Department of Construction Management Florida International University, Miami. Retrieved from

Ahmed, S.M., Azhar,S., Castillo.M. & Kappagantula, P. (2003). Delays in construction: A brief study of the Florida construction industry .Associated Schools of Construction Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference, Clemson, South Carolina, April 2003, 257-266.

Aibinu, A.A. and Odeyinka, H.A. (2006). Construction delays and their causative factors in Nigeria. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 7(10), 667-677. doi:/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9364(2006)132:7(667)

Alaghbari, W., Kadir, M.R.A., Salim, A and Ernawati, A. (2007). The significant factors causing delay of building construction projects in Malaysia. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 14(2), 192-206. doi: 10.1108/09699981111111166

Al-Khalil, M. I. and Al-Ghafly, M.A. (1999). Important causes of delay in public utility projects in Saudi Arabia. Construction Management and Economics, 1, 647-655.

Anvuur, A., Kumaraswamy, M. and Mahesh, G. (2006). Which governs – the relationship or the contract? Proceedings of the annual research conference of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, September 2006, University College London, United Kingdom. pp. 99-106.

Assaf, S.A. and Al-Heijj, S. (2006). Causes of delay in large projects. International Journal of Project Management, 24(4) 349-357.

Davis, N. (2007). Construction sector productivity: Martin Jenkins scoping report.

Doloi, H., Sawhney, A., Iyer, K.C. and Rentala, S. (2011). Analysing factors affecting delays in Indian construction projects. International Journal of Project Management, 30, 479-489. doi.10.1016/j.ijproman.2011.10.004

Durdyev, S. and Ismail, S. (2012). Pareto analysis of on-site productivity constraints and improvement techniques in construction industry, Scientific Research and Essays, 7(7), 824-833. doi: 10.5897/SRE12.005

Durdyev, S. and Ismail, S. (2016). On-site construction productivity in Malaysian infrastructure projects, Structural Survey, 34(4/5), 446-462. doi: 10.1108/SS-12-2015-0058

Durdyev, S. and Mbachu, J. (2011). On-site labour productivity of New Zealand construction industry: Key constraints and improvement measures, Australasian Journal of Construction Economics and Building, 11(3), 18-33. doi: 10.5130/AJCEB.v11i3.2120

Durdyev, S. and Mbachu, J. (2017). Key Constraints to Labour Productivity in Residential Building Projects: Evidence from Cambodia, International Journal of Construction Management. (Forthcoming) doi: 10.1080/15623599.2017.1326301

Durdyev, S., Omarov, M. and Ismail, S. (2017). Causes of delay in residential construction projects in Cambodia, Cogent Engineering, 4(1): 1-8. doi: 10.1080/23311916.2017.1291117

Faridi, A.S. and El-Sayegh, S.M. (2006). Significant factors causing delay in the UAE. Construction Management and Economics, 24(11), 1167-1176.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2005). Policy and planning for large infrastructure projects: Problems, causes, cures. World Bank Research working paper, 3781, 1-32.

Frimpong, Y.A.W and Oluwoye, J. (2003). Significant factors causing delay and cost overruns in construction of groundwater projects in Ghana. Journal of Construction Research, 4(2), 175-187. doi:10.1142/S1609945103000418

Frodel, M. and Josephson, P.E. (2009). Perceived Constraints when Establishing and Maintaining Contractor Supplier Relations in Construction. Construction Management, Chalmers University of Technology.

Kumaraswamy, M.M. and Chan, D.W.M. (1998). Contributors to construction delays. Construction Management and Economics, 16(1998), 17-29.

Marzouk, M. M. and El-Rasas, T.I. (2012). Analyzing delay causes in Egyptian construction projects. Journal of Advanced Research.

Mohammed, A.M. and Isah, A.D. (2012). Causes of delay in Nigeria construction industry. Journal of Contemporary Research Business, 4(2), 785-794.

Motaleb, O. and Kishk, M. (2010). An investigation into causes and effects of construction delays in UAE. Proceedings of the 26th Annual ARCOM Conference, 6-8 September 2010, Leeds, U.K. Association of researchers in construction Management.

Mouton, J. (2001). How to Succeed in Your Master’s and Doctoral Studies: A South African Guide and Resource Book. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

Naoum, S.G. (1998). Dissertation research and writing for construction students. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Odeh, A. M. and Battaineh, H. T. (2002). Causes of construction delay: traditional contracts. International Journal of Project Management, 20(1), 67-73. doi: 10.1016/SO263-7863(00)00037-5

Ogunlana, S.O, Promkuntong, K., & Vithool, J. (1996). Construction delays in a fast growing economy: Comparing Thailand with other economies. International Journal Project Management, 14(1), 37-45.

Ren, Z., Atout, M. and Jones, J. (2008). Root causes of construction project delays in Dubai. Dainty Procs 24th Annual ARCOM Conference, 1-3 September 2008, Cardiff, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction Management.

Sambasivan, M. and Soon,Y.W. ( 2007). Causes and effects of delays in Malaysian construction industry. International Journal of Project Management, 5(5), 517-526.

Scott, S. (1993). The nature and effects of construction delays. Construction Management and Economics, 11(5), 358-369.

Sweis, G., Sweis, R., Hammad, A. and Shboul, A. (2008). Delays in construction projects: The case of Jordan. International Journal of Project Management, 26(6), 665-674. doi: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2007.09.009.

Toor, S. and Ogunlana, S.O. (2007). Problems causing delays in major construction projects in Thailand. Construction Management and Economics, 26(4), 395-408. doi: 10.1080/01446190801905406

Vrijhoef, R. and de Ridder, H. (2007). A systems approach for developing a model of construction supply chain integration. Proceedings 4th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organisation, 14-15 June, 2007, Lulea, Sweden. pp. 3-14.