If your project is running weeks late and you’re racking up expenses living in rental accommodation, you’ll wish you were entitled to damages!
Any good building contract will have a Liquidated Damages clause which entitles the owner to claim back from the contractor an agreed amount (say $80/calendar day, for example) if the project is delayed without good reason. It shouldn’t be seen as a penalty … more as compensation for costs incurred as a result of a client not being able to take possession of their new building at the expected time.
It needs to be agreed at the outset, of course, and the expenses need to have actually been incurred, but it’s a good incentive for the contractor to have the job done on time. A Liquidated Damages clause shouldn’t bother a good builder, but a tardy one might be a bit reluctant to agree with it.
Have a written contract with your contractor and make sure there’s provision for Liquidated Damages in it. It’s one less worry and one less argument you’ll have to have.