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Reducing the potential for construction disputes

The last thing you need while you are trying to complete a construction project is for a dispute to arise. It often doesn't matter which parties are involved in the dispute; what matters is that it could cost a significant amount of time and money for everyone.

It may be possible to reduce the potential for problems to occur. Most issues arise because of misunderstandings, delays or failures in the administration of the contract. The remainder often comes about when one of the parties makes incomplete or unsubstantiated claims.

Keeping disputes at bay

Taking some time up front to identify, clarify and rectify any potential sources of contention during the project is often worthwhile. To that end, you may take the following into consideration:

  • Take the time to carefully and thoroughly review the contract.
  • Make sure that the parties can meet the deadlines in the contract's schedules.
  • Keep track of any issues during the execution of the contract.
  • Identify any potential risks and take steps to work them out.
  • Make as many plans as possible before starting any work.
  • Don't neglect the importance of the pre-construction work.
  • Clear up any vague language or clauses that could cause problems at some point.

If you do see a problem, take care of it without delay. Allowing them to fester could result in disputes that could end up in litigation. These actions could serve as a preemptive strike against any dispute that could delay or derail the project.

When planning doesn't work

Sadly, all of your preparations may fail to keep a dispute from arising. If that happens, you could try negotiating a resolution in order to prevent the matter from getting any worse. If that doesn't work, other steps that require progressively more involvement from other people may be necessary:

  • Mediation still allows the parties to retain control over the outcome with a little help in keeping the negotiations on track. Court approval of any agreement is not a requirement.
  • Adjudication also involves a third party who makes the decision, which may require a court order to enforce.
  • Obtaining an expert determination could resolve the dispute before it becomes an issue as well.
  • Arbitration involves a third party who acts more like a judge in that he or she will make a decision favoring one party or the other if they cannot agree beforehand. This decision may be binding on the parties.

The last option involves litigation, which is what most people want to avoid, and you may be among them. In any case, understanding the options available could help you determine the best way to resolve the situation.

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