With the complexity inherent in most construction projects and the number of professionals involved, it should be no surprise that construction contract disputes arise regularly in Florida.
Yet many construction companies fail to take due care when drafting contracts, which can lead to disputes that could have been avoided.
Even when contracts are drafted to standard, disputes can arise and, with them, the threat of expensive and time-consuming litigation.
The construction contract dispute attorneys at Bennett Legal Group in Orlando can prevent a dispute from turning into a disaster for your business. By adopting alternative dispute resolution methods, there is a good chance that we can resolve your contract dispute without an expensive court battle.
What is a construction contract dispute?
Multiple contracts and specialist laws are in force with most construction projects. Together with the large number of parties involved and the time constraints at play, it can lead to challenging construction contract disputes.
These disputes involve the rights and responsibilities of the various parties to a contract and are some of the most commonly litigated cases with construction businesses in the Florida courts.
Construction contract disputes generally arise due to a problem with changes in the work, delays, or payment.
Strong knowledge of contract law is required to handle such cases as well as the ability to interpret them. The contract dispute attorneys at Bennett Legal Group are adept at this, with combined decades of experience.
We understand that construction disputes often go unattended during the course of a job and accumulate at the end of the project. This is usually the worst timing for all concerned. The owner is trying to move in, the design team is busy closing out the project, and the contractor is trying to get paid for things that weren’t addressed along the way.
Often, our attorneys are asked to step in and help resolve such disputes.
Common types of contract disputes
The most common types of construction contract dispute in Florida result from changes in the work or poorly documented or coordinated drawings: that is, revisions to contract drawings that were issued at the time the contract was signed or a lack of clarity or conflicts in the drawings.
Unless the original contract documents are unambiguous, disputes are likely to arise.
In some cases, disputes arise even if the contracts are clear. This may be because a contractor’s work is not up to standard, they failed to follow specifications or they used materials of a lower quality than agreed. Other disputes arise because of non-payment or late payment causing cash flow issues or unacceptable delays.
Contract conflicts generally arise due to financial issues, which can have serious repercussions for the owner who is keen to start using the property, sell the property, or earn an income from it. Delays are costly and should be avoided by resolving issues as efficiently as possible.
Contract disputes do not necessarily mean that you will end up in court with a judge deciding who is right and who is wrong- but they can escalate to that point unless you address the issues early on.
Legal representation can help not only with litigation but with finding an alternative dispute resolution method that works.
Better contracts make a better defense
Contractors, suppliers, designers, engineers, and other construction professionals must all be cognizant of the potential issues that impact projects. They must take steps to protect their businesses because most construction projects involve considerable financial risks.
The strength of your legal position in a dispute is often determined by the quality of the contract in place between you and the other party/parties. A better contract makes for a better argument in your favor.
At the onset of any construction project, all contingencies must be addressed in the contract documents. This is the starting point for avoiding disputes and by accomplishing this, you help to prevent litigation. All too often we find that the parties have relied on industry standard form contracts that may not address the unique circumstances associated with your project. While these forms can be a good starting point, they usually need to be customized to fit your needs.
If you focus on the clear identification of the rights and responsibilities of each party and the consequences of any breaches in your contracts, you will minimize misunderstandings and avoid disagreements.
For instance, to avoid disputes over changes in the work, specific procedures should be delineated in the General Conditions for the processing of change orders, including the following:
- The handling of concealed conditions
- Claims for additional costs
- Minor changes in the work
- Uncovering and correcting the work
- Provisions for acceptance of defective or nonconforming work and termination conditions
Unfortunately, some disputes are inevitable. When they arise, it’s easier to address them if you can point to a clause in the contract that protects you and enlists the guidance of experienced construction contract dispute attorneys.
Ultimately, nobody wants the costly delays that construction disputes involve. Getting your contracts right from the start makes good business sense.
Florida construction contract dispute attorneys
As one of the leading construction law firms in Florida, Bennett Legal Group’s team of construction contract dispute attorneys is focused entirely on helping professionals within the construction industry deal with issues like contract disputes.
We have been involved in the drafting of major construction contracts and have a firm understanding of contract law as well as the engineering and construction industries as a whole. While we work hard to prevent disputes, we possess the legal, financial, and business knowledge to provide expert advice to construction professionals when disputes do arise.
We can represent owners, general contractors, design professionals, subcontractors, and suppliers in any dispute.
An important element of our work involves avoiding expensive court trials that add delays and costs to projects. As such, the starting place for most contract disputes is alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration.
These methods are less expensive and time-consuming than a litigated trial and have good success rates. Some contracts specify that they are the preferred option for resolving disputes.
If necessary, our attorneys have successfully tried cases in federal, state, and local courts on behalf of construction businesses and professionals, as well as before review boards and arbitration panels.
Depending on the precise circumstances of your case, we will advise you on the recommended next steps but litigation is usually only the final resort.
The golden rule is to address problems early on and not allow them to mount up. You may want to continue work on undisputed aspects of the contract but smaller issues should be addressed as they arise to prevent a collection of problems later on in the project.
Book a consultation with a construction dispute attorney
Early dispute resolution is key to resolving issues without litigation. At Bennett Legal Group in Orlando, we aim to prevent legal issues from escalating and adversely impacting futures.
Call us today at 407-734-4559 to arrange a consultation or complete a short form and let us know the nature of your issue.