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How to resolve construction contract disputes

It is not uncommon to have claims and disputes during a construction project. Often, these disputes can lead to an overrun of your budget or missed deadlines. There are, however, actions you can take to get your project back on track.

Most common reasons for construction contract disputes

There are many reasons you may find yourself in the middle of a contract dispute, but the most common are caused by changes in the contract drawings. These changes can include requesting small amendments to the work, additional costs not originally covered by the contract, and work that may be found to be defective.

The second reason contracts tend to come under dispute is due to poor documentation of the original drawings. This can result in changes during construction that cause cost overruns or time delays.

When disputes happen, it is up to the owner of the property to determine what or who caused the issue and assess blame. This blame will normally fall on either the actual construction process or the architect that made the original drawings.

How to resolve a construction contract dispute quickly

There are several ways to deal with a contract dispute. You can pursue formal negotiations, where all parties sit down to talk through the issues and explain their positions. This helps everyone determine where the problem originated and figure out how to fix it. It's also not a legally binding process, so you have additional options should negotiations fail at any point.

You can use the legal process of arbitration to settle your dispute. Arbitration doesn't involve the courtroom, but it brings a neutral third party (or arbitrator) into the conversation for assistance in finding a solution. Formal arbitration is binding, and many contracts have a clause that states all disputes will be settled through this process. If your contract has an arbitration clause then you will not be able to use litigation as a means of dealing with a dispute.

And litigation, of course, is the final option for resolving a dispute. Litigation brings the parties to the courtroom, where a judge makes the final decision. If you are planning to litigate a dispute, it is critical that you have all documentation associated with the construction project available. This can include telephone logs, project notes, meeting minutes and the original drawings and plans.

It can be difficult to get a positive outcome when litigating a contract dispute, so it is important to have the help of an experienced attorney who practices in this area of law. This is one time you don't want to try to deal with the dispute on your own.

No one enjoys dealing with a contract dispute, but the best time to do so is immediately. If you wait until the project is almost complete, it can be even more difficult to obtain the outcome you're hoping for. Instead, deal with issues as they arise, and obtain legal assistance as soon as possible.

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