A real focus of a successful contractor is to reach substantial completion on time and within budget. Guess what? Not everyone agrees on what is substantial completion. Usually, you think that getting a certificate of occupancy should suffice. Not necessarily if you are dealing with residential or hotel construction. If substantial completion is the ability to use the project for the purpose intended, maybe having painters touching up on punch list items wouldn’t be considered acceptable to a hotel owner. If you are working for a tenant, what does his lease say about when he can occupy the space? The bottom line is you can fight about these things in court, or, you can clearly define substantial completion clearly for each project before they begin.