Flexible start date

Learn more about how we use flexible start dates to allow the contractor some discretion in establishing when a project's working days will start. This provision is used in specific projects where it would yield favorable results, including lower cost and more efficient use of contract time.

Consideration for use

The flexible start date provision allows the contractor some discretion, within given criteria, to establish when a project's working days are going to start. Most contracts begin charging working days ten days following execution. This start date does not necessarily fit all projects.

The flexible start date provision should be considered when it is determined that allowing the contractor more latitude in scheduling the work will result in a more efficient use of workforce, equipment and subcontractors. Although we no longer prescribe when the first working day will occur, we still prescribe the latest date that we will allow the work to start to ensure completion within the scheduled construction season. This shift in control of the starting date to the contractor should yield benefits to the public, including a lower cost and more efficient use of specified contract time.

This provision should be considered on projects where there is no significant public impact associated with delaying the start date of construction and where the contractor or the state may benefit from the flexibility of controlling the start of work. Use of this provision should also be considered in cases where concrete or asphalt supply or labor force is limited and multiple contracts with concurrent working days may over tax the supply, increasing the overall duration of individual projects and associated costs (engineering, traffic control, erosion control, etc.).

Flexible start date is a tool to consider on projects that involve large offsite preparatory work that can be performed prior to starting days and disrupting traffic may also be good candidates for this provision.

The duration of the construction project (days with impact to traffic) should not be increased by the flexible start date and, in fact, may be reduced. Care must be taken to ensure that this provision does not allow a construction project to slip from one construction season to another.

Projects that have a fast track schedule, requiring completion as soon as possible, or where there is no likelihood of efficiencies being realized from this method should not be considered for this provision.

Issues to be discussed

Careful consideration and discussion by Project Development and Construction Project Engineers needs to take place prior to the decision to use the flexible start date provision. Some of the issues that should be discussed are:

  • Potential advantages and disadvantages of using this provision
  • Loss of control over the schedule
  • Ability of our staff to accommodate the contractor's schedule
  • Public impacts
  • Potential for increased impacts to the traveling public
  • Media impacts
  • Commitments made on progress of work

Background information

Modifying a flexible start date

The goal of this provision is to provide the maximum allowable flexibility for the contractor to complete the work in a timely manner. This should be done in a competitive environment (advertisement). Modifying an existing contract to benefit the contractor's schedule would be prejudicial to the second low bidder. Adding this provision to an existing contract should only be done when there is an identified need for the State (workforce leveling) to delay the contract.

Modified start date

At the point of execution, the contractor has submitted, and the state has accepted, a price for the work given the modified start date. Should this need to be changed solely for our convenience, a compensatory change order will likely be required.

Establishing working days

When establishing the number of working days, it is reasonable to assume that a contractor will have the benefit of more time to properly schedule out the work. As such, a more aggressive schedule may be appropriate.

Delayed start date

If a project engineer determines that delaying the contract beyond the latest allowable start date is necessary, a compensable change order for delay would be required.

Suspension for materials

A suspension for materials acquisition may still be required. The decision to provide a suspension for materials is based on the projected timeline to obtain certain materials independent of the project schedule.

Notification of start date

The contractor is required in the special provisions to notify us ten calendar days in advance of beginning work.

Sample special provisions

When using the flexible start date provision several options may be considered, depending on the desired outcome.

For projects in which a delayed start is mandatory.

The first sentence of Section 1-08.4 is revised to read:

The contractor shall not begin onsite work until *** $$1$$ ***. The Contractor shall diligently pursue the work to completion within the time specified in the contract. Voluntary shutdown or slowing of operations by the Contractor shall not relieve the Contractor of the responsibility to complete the work within the time specified in the contract.

(*** $$ 1 $$ *** shall be the earliest allowable start date)

Section 1-08.5 is supplemented with the following:

Contract time shall begin on the first working day following *** $$1$$ ***.

(*** $$ 1 $$ *** is the earliest allowable start date)

For projects in which a flexible start date is acceptable to the state.

Section 1-08.4 is modified as follows:

The Contractor shall begin onsite work on or before *** $$1$$, *** and shall notify the Engineer in writing a minimum of 10 calendar days in advance of the date on which the Contractor intends to begin work. The Contractor shall diligently pursue the work to completion within the time specified in the contract. Voluntary shutdown or slowing of operations by the Contractor shall not relieve the Contractor of the responsibility to complete the work within the time specified in the contract.

(*** $$ 1 $$ *** is the latest allowable start date)

Section 1-08.5 is supplemented with the following:

This project shall be physically completed within *** $$1$$ *** working days.

Contract time shall begin on the latter of: the first working day following the 10th working day after the date the Contracting Agency executes the contract or the first day the Contractor starts onsite work. On site work is defined as work within the physical limits of the contract. In no case shall the beginning of contract time be later than *** $$2$$. ***

(*** $$ 1 $$ *** is the number of working days, *** $$ 2 $$ *** is the latest allowable start date)

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