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Failing to perform: A material breach

For the most part, construction projects go as planned. People get what they want created, and the construction teams go away happy with payment. Realistically, not every project can go perfectly, and that can mean that certain projects end badly. Sometimes, it's necessary to end a project because of a material breach.

A material breach is a failure to perform or a breach that defeats the purpose of a standing contract. For instance, if a contractor doesn't show up to work on a project for several days in a row, you may wish to terminate the contract as a result of that breach. Keep in mind that a material breach is only a material breach if you cannot be compensated for the failure in performance and still obtain the outcome you were expecting.

For instance, if you needed the project done in a week, it's clear that getting your money back is unlikely to give you enough time to find someone to complete the project during that limited time and for the present rate. Another example would be if the construction team did not follow the design documents and deprives the owner of the purpose of the contract. Asking for a circular room but being given a square room without the option to change the shape would indicate a material breach as it is not in compliance with the original contract.

If you believe a contractor has violated your contract, there's a potential that you could file a lawsuit. Keep all the related documents and consider taking them to your attorney to see if you have a solid case.

Source: The Construction Specifier, "Contract termination for material breach," Debbie Cazan and John I. Spangler III, accessed April 12, 2018

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