Construction litigation involves legal disputes related to building projects. This may involve residential, commercial, or governmental construction projects. The stakeholders in construction disputes may be property owners, contractors or subcontractors, architects, engineers, suppliers, developers, or investors to name a few.
The most straightforward cases are often disputes between general contractors and subcontractors. More complicated disputes may involve suppliers and lenders and concern the quality and scope of the work performed. Disputes requiring litigation cover a range of severity.
What Factors are Behind the Most Common Construction Disputes?
While the root causes of construction litigation vary, most construction disputes tend to involve claims of breach of contract or negligence.
Disputes Over Changes
These cases may include the customer preventing progress or alterations made by design professionals or contractors, or the construction provider making changes without customer approval. Breach of contract is usually the result.
Delays by the Contractor
Delays may stem from material shortages, understaffing, or prohibitive weather conditions. A construction lawyer can determine if these are the fault of the contractor or unavoidable.
Defective Workmanship or Materials
Claims for defective workmanship are usually leveled at contractors and subcontractors, while claims for defective products single out material suppliers as at fault.
Errors in Planning and Design
Ambiguity or faults in construction design can lead to claims of negligence of the design professionals, the architects, and engineers. Late or inadequate reviews by the engineering team can slow the process of noting design inadequacies.
Payment claims are messy since contractors require the client’s payment to purchase supplies and labor, but clients may push back about paying for a job that hasn’t been completed. Also, sometimes a general contractor may fail to pay a subcontractor or supplier, despite having been paid in full by the customer, leading to the filing of mechanic’s liens by the unpaid parties.
Enforcement of Mechanic’s Liens
A mechanic’s lien is a legal security measure to provide an unpaid party with a security interest in the property being constructed. They must be resolved before a property can change hands.
How Do You Solve a Construction Dispute?
It’s unwise to attempt a “DIY” approach in most legal matters. Hiring a competent attorney will greatly improve your chances of success. Construction litigation tends to be one of the more complex areas of law because it usually necessitates the opinion of multiple subject-matter experts and an attorney who is conversant in both legal rules and construction conventions. These individuals tend to be somewhat specialized. Stevenson Smith Hood Knudson has experience in this area, and we are happy to meet with you to see whether we are a good fit to help you solve your problem.