Given the scope and complexity of many construction projects, it is perhaps no surprise that there a variety of disputes that can arise between the contractor, the property owner and subcontractors. From disagreements over the work to be done, to when workers can come in, to who is responsible for a defect, almost anything can turn into a legal fight, if the parties involved do not have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations before the project begins.
Even the basic expectations for the project can be a source of strife between the parties. For example, the owner may not clearly communicate what they hired the contractor to do, or the plans and specifications contradict themselves somehow. An implied warranty typically is built into the contract that the owner will provide plans and specs that are correct, adequate, accurate and buildable. This could give the contractor a strong case that the confusion is the owner’s fault.
The sequence in which various parts of the project could also lead to problems between the parties. The general contractor may hire subcontractors for different times, believing the owner will provide those subcontractors with access to the building sites. But the owner may fail to provide access, or not obtain the necessary permits or easements, in time to let subcontractors do their work as scheduled.
Another common dispute is over the condition of the site, and whether the owner is required to disclose the condition. Most of the time, the owner must at least warrant that construction is feasible on the site.
Many, if not most, construction disputes can be avoided, if the parties work out a well-crafted contract. A business law attorney can help.