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contract language about delays

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My contract with a kitchen remodeler includes this language: “Homeowner agrees that the date of Substantial Completion may be extended for 30 days without incurring damages or penalty for such delays or stoppage.”

The project is almost complete, but it is over 30 days past the date set in the contract for “substantial completion”, so I want to negotiate for a reduction in final payment. However the contract doesn’t include any guidelines for how to calculate the dollar amount of the “damages or penalty”.

The contract includes reasons for permissible delay on the contractor’s part, but I don’t believe those reasons have been met. I am still in good communication with the contractor, I want to negotiate in good faith for a reduction in payment, which I believe the contract clearly entitles me to. One concern I have is that I may be penalized for paying the final late, as I take time to negotiate any reduction.

Thank you for input from anyone who has experience or knowledge of these matters.

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