What Is Float in Construction?

February 24, 2024

Understanding float is an essential skill for construction project managers. No matter what methodology you use for scheduling your team’s time, incorporating float can help you keep projects on schedule in the face of delays. Float is the amount of time that a task can be delayed without impacting a subsequent task’s start date or delaying the project completion date. Float can be measured using critical path analysis or network diagramming, and there are different types of float such as free float and total float.

The most common argument for the Contractor owning the float is that they create the CPS and determine the sequence of construction activities, which means that they can directly impact the availability of the float based on their performance. Further, if the Contractor is the party most at risk of Owner caused delays on the Project, they are the best equipped to proactively manage that float to meet contractual milestones and completion dates.

There is no significant case law on the topic of float ownership, and different jurisdictions may treat this issue differently. Consequently, the best way to address this question is through specific language in a contract between the Contractor and Owner. Some common clauses addressing this issue are so called “joint ownership” and “non-sequestering” clauses.

A more restrictive definition of float is terminal float, which refers to the remaining float after all other available float has been consumed. This is commonly viewed as the maximum float that can be absorbed by a critical path activity.

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