Ideally, real estate construction projects are completed as designed, on schedule and within budget. However, construction projects are, by their very nature, complex affairs that can generate serious conflicts between the multiple people and entities involved, including contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, developers and property owners, even when everyone acts in good faith.
If you’re involved in a Florida construction project in any of these capacities, you need to beware of any unexpected issues that might lead to missed deadlines, work stoppages and even lawsuits. The following are the most common causes of disputes:
- Planning and design errors — Problems can begin even before construction. Inaccuracies in planning or ambiguities in the design phase may requires correction after construction has begun.
- Construction delays — Projects can be delayed by bad weather, late shipments of essential materials, late securing of zoning, building and other permits, slow work of contractors and subcontractors, failed inspections and late demands for changes.
- Faulty construction — Negligent contractors and subcontractors can create construction defects that can add to the cost of the project, prevent or delay approval and payment and create safety and other problems.
- Unreasonable demands — A developer, owner, architect or engineer who makes unrealistic demands or who finds fault where the contractors have substantially complied with their contractual duties can frustrate everyone involved.
- Inadequate or delayed inspections — A lot of problems can be caught and corrected early by careful, periodic inspections of the work. Conversely, disputes typically occur when inspections are late or haphazardly done.
There is no way to anticipate all possible disputes, but you can effectively address them — with less likelihood of going to court — by insisting on provisions in the construction contract that provide for efficient dispute resolution mechanisms such as these:
- A process for submission of claims for additional money or performance time
- Specification of a qualified expert to make initial decisions on claims
- A requirement that unresolved claims go to mediation with a third-party neutral before going to arbitration or litigation
- An arbitration procedure, including such terms as the number of arbitrators and their qualifications and powers
- A provision describing whether attorneys’ fees may be awarded to a prevailing party in any of these forums
An attorney experienced in construction contracts and dispute resolution can determine how these provisions should best be adapted for your construction contract and represent you effectively in any disputes that arise.
H. Clay Parker, Esq., with offices located in Orlando, provides legal counsel and representation in construction disputes throughout central Florida. Call 407-216-2504 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.