Navigating Construction Disputes

Dispute resolution is one of the certainties in a construction project.  Virtually every general contract or subcontract contains elaborate provisions about dispute resolution.

Some call for arbitration (a privately retained neutral renders a binding decision), while others call for litigation (the formal process of filing a lawsuit).  Others call for arbitration of some types of disputes, and litigation for others, depending on the type of dispute or who is involved.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both dispute resolution mechanisms.

Construction disputes usually arise on constructions projects in the following scenarios:

  • scope of work disagreements
  • incomplete predecessor work
  • project mismanagement
  • delays
  • inability to agree on adjustments
  • poorly worded change orders and construction change directives
  • failure to provide contractually required notices
  • differing site conditions
  • unreasonable people

By the time these issues ripen into litigation, it can be difficult for cooler heads to prevail.

After all, many projects have gone on for months and even years in chaos and discord, leaving frustrations to boil over. If you are a contractor in the midst of a project heading for a dispute, you should always remain professional, courteous, and make every effort to finish the job.

Be a team player. If your dispute is going to end up in arbitration or in a trial, you want to be viewed as the most reasonable person in the room. Arbitrators, judges, and jurors like reasonable, fair minded, and cooperative people; they don't like people who are spiteful, rude, and unwilling to take responsibility.  

Aside from keeping your cool, be sure to keep a thorough, comprehensive, and accurate project record. Construction disputes are decided by evidence, not just who is right.  

It is not what you know; it's what you can show.

You should keep contemporaneous daily logs, take exhaustive photos of every stage of the project from multiple viewpoints, and keep written records of all meetings you (or your project managers or foremen) attend. At the end of each day, you should review your notes and expand on what happened in the day with as much detail as possible.

Don't put it off until later – later is too late. It will be months, if not years, by the time a construction dispute goes to trial.

The memories of your project managers and foreman will be a blur by the time the project is done, much less by the time they are asked to recall the job at a deposition or on the witness stand.

Help your construction lawyer help you. Write things down and document constantly, uniformly, and in as much detail as possible.

Do you have a question about a Construction Dispute? Do you have a problem getting straight answers and accurate information?

Please contact us with a question about your problem, even if you are not ready to use our services.Our goal is to help you and make sure you have the information and help you need to solve your construction dispute.

Related Posts
  • Subcontracting Basics – It’s All about Managing Expectations Read More
  • Understanding Construction Change Directives for Subcontractors Read More
  • Understanding Notice & Claims Procedures for Subcontractors Read More