No large construction dispute is ever totally error-free. Whether you’re an owner, general contractor or subcontractor, a time-consuming dispute can damage your credibility and your finances significantly. That makes it wise to invest your energy into avoiding those disputes as much as possible in the first place.
So how do you do that? By following certain cardinal rules for every construction project:
- Write down all agreements. You can’t rely on a “handshake deal” to make anyone happy if there’s an issue down the line. This doesn’t just go for your initial agreement, either. If a change order is made verbally by the owner, for example, follow it up with a written acknowledgment of the changes and any new important agreements that need to be formalized.
- Make contingency plans. Good construction contracts always plan for the unexpected. Your contracts should always cover common problems, like what happens when an owner keeps making change orders or what will be done if there’s a delay in materials.
- Have a clear method of addressing complaints. It’s far easier to handle a small complaint than a big one, so it’s important never to let issues fester. You can often avoid litigation by addressing an issue quickly.
- Get all the necessary permits. Nothing can sour a construction project faster than a dispute with the city, county or state over your permits — and a problem can cause you serious delays and a lot of additional expense.
Finally, an experienced construction attorney can often spot potential problems before they start (or escalate) and help you craft a contract that will keep you out of court.