Potential Reasons Why a Building Renovation Project Might Be Temporarily Halted

Getting a building renovation project approved and through the approvals processes is the first step.  There are several reasons why a building construction project may be halted during approval or after work begins. We take a look at these potential causes.

The Approval Process

The approval process for construction is necessary for health and safety reasons and to determine its effect on people and environmental biodiversity. It may result in applicants having to undergo several approvals before permission to proceed is granted. This is predicated on the complexity, scope, size, and sustainable goal impacts. These approvals are known as planning permission.

The local planning authorities falling under the council are the only ones who can provide planning permission. However, some projects do not need prior approval, for example, a house enlargement that is under 50% of the curtilage, and small assignments like fences and gates. In this case, restrictions may apply to changes affecting forestry lands, for instance.

Receiving outline permission may not fully conclude your obligations as ‘reserve matters’ may need specific, additional approval. Similarly, you may have to provide an environmental impact assessment, target emission rate, health and safety plan, and a site waste management plan. Many contractors choose to submit full plans at the outset to avoid further delays.

Bat Surveys

One type of survey that is often called for is a bat survey. Bats have become close to extinction in the UK and are a protected species. This includes the full 18 species of bats living in the territory of the UK. It is better to do a bat survey as part of a full plan when you apply for permission to renovate or construct. If you apply and are declined because you did not include a bat survey, you will have delayed the process. Usually, it takes eight weeks to get approval if all the required documentation is provided.

Bat Surveys provides quotes on the same day that you submit your request. It usually takes them a couple of days to do the on-site inspection and give the client a report to submit to council’s planning department. The types of construction projects that will need a bat survey are the removal of trees and hedgerows, roadworks (maintenance and construction), modifications, demolitions, conversions, and extensions. Bat Surveys aims to get their clients through the approval process without being refused permission.

This guide provides more information on the regulations relating to renovations and bats.

Force Majeure

Force majeure is a term that is used when unforeseeable circumstances prohibit someone from honouring a contract. A good example of this is covid, which forced many businesses to shut down operations. 

The UK economy showed a 5.8% reduction in March this year with almost four percent unemployment. Six percent of its GDP is made up of the construction industry, which has 2,200,000 employees and 343,000 companies. Covid has cost the UK £301,500,000 for every day of the pandemic restrictions. This has had a huge impact on the building trade and resulted in many projects being put on hold.

Contractual and Non-Contractual Rights to Terminate

Non-contractual rights to terminate occur when circumstances beyond the control of either party result in frustrations with unintended delays. In this case, the contract can be terminated although each party to it will still have to pay for any accrued expenses.

In regard to covid, this remains an instance of force majeureand not the non-contractual right to terminate if this has been written into the contract as a potential postponement issue. Itwould be characterised as the contractual right to terminate.

The term ‘non-contractual rights to terminate’ does not apply when there are hold-ups due to the increased price or slow delivery of materials and equipment. Contractual rights to terminate may cover breaches of agreed responsibility or incidents of force majeure.


Both suspension and termination can take different forms. If the employer alleges that the contractor has committed a breach of contract, the employee may decide to suspend work on the project until the issue has been resolved. Likewise, an employer may choose to withhold payment from a contractor deemed to be in breach of the agreement. This will probably lead to the contractor stopping work.

Most contracts cover the clauses relating to the termination of a contract but many fail to include a section on suspensions. This could be due to delays in reaching an agreement on termination terms and conditions. Termination and suspension are very similar. 

The outcome of a suspension clause may closely resemble the termination clause, depending on how it was worded. The usual result is an arrangement whereby either party may terminate the contract after a pre-determined period of suspension.

The reasons for the suspension of work can be the same as forits termination, such as an event that delays the project. However, the period is usually shorter. An example would be unexpected bad weather. The project can be resumed after the problem has ended. Sometimes, a party includes a suspension clause to allow it the opportunity to determine a way forward and this is acceptable if it is not repeated or prolonged. Here, an example would be a contractor wanting to try out a new method or material. If it fails to deliver according to expectations, it may be necessary for the parties to agree on an amended pricing structure.

Generally, the law does not recognise the right to a suspension unless applicable terms have been expressly contained in the contract. Thus, you should consider under what circumstances you might require the temporary suspension of a contract and include a suspension clause with agreed timelines. 

Contractor Provisions

In the construction business, delays do occur that are not covered by contractual clauses. For example, if materials or equipment on-site are stolen, the contractor will incur the additional costs of replacement. This is something that should be addressed in the planning phase of the project. It is up to the contractor to secure their property to avoid incidents of theft. 

There may be delays in getting council approval for the project, possibly due to some missing documentation, such as bat surveys. Accidents, with or without fatalities, can take place. This will require the site to be shut down while this is investigated, and provisions made to upgrade safety.

Planning a project properly and ensuring that all the necessary surveys and tests have been done and the paperwork included with the application will go a long way in preventing temporary delays.

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