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Dealing with construction disputes

When a construction contract dispute arises, you'll want to do anything you can to resolve it. These disputes usually occur because of the terms of the contract not suiting one or both parties. Perhaps one party isn't holding up his or her end of the deal, or the other is unhappy with the quality of work. In any case, that problem leads to a dispute.

The first thing you can do to protect yourself from a dispute is to read over any contract you're entering into very carefully. Your attorney can review it with you and help you negotiate the terms if there is a problem with any part of the contract. Evaluate the fine print and read the contract in its entirety.

There should be several basic provisions in any construction contract. For instance, you should see a description of the project, the requirements of the project, construction documents, information on what happens if delays occur and information on the expected date and time of completion. Claims and dispute resolution preferences may be added to the contract as well. For instance, some contracts have arbitration clauses, which restrict the parties to resolving issues in arbitration instead of in court.

It's up to you if you want to agree to a contract with an arbitration clause, but that is something you may wish to talk to your attorney about first. Arbitration may limit your options if you have a problem with the contract or contractor. You may be able to negotiate a contract that allows for litigation in certain circumstances, which may be more beneficial to you if something goes wrong during the construction process.

Source: Construct Connect, "Legally Speaking: Construction Contract Disputes," J. Norman Stark, accessed May 11, 2018

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