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Over the past few years, the construction industry took a major hit when the housing market fell through the cracks. Luckily, housing prices are on the rise again and the construction industry is experiencing a rebound. This means that more and more homeowners and contractors will be working together, and unfortunately, this can easily lead to project disputes and delays. Some delays are simply unavoidable, but understanding potential disputes and ways to reduce their potential for occurring can be essential for homeowners and contractors.
Complexities of Construction Contracts
There are numerous complexities inherent to construction relationships and contracts. The first thing to recognize is that, in the case of every construction contract, the document is trying to simultaneously accommodate two competing interests. As the website of a respected construction attorney NY firm points out “Contracts are powerful tools with the full weight of the law behind them.” While this is the case with all contracts, it's especially true for construction contracts which usually recognize the fact that a variety of different problems can occur and who is at fault may not always be completely black and white.
The typical construction contract, which should only be entered into after being penned by a legal professional, makes each person, whether it be the contractor or homeowner, responsible for their own actions. Unfortunately, there are times where several types of delays may arise at once. Delays caused by inclement weather, for instance, usually fall to the contractor. When the principal doesn't have design information on time, however, the fault usually falls on them.
Complexity can quickly arise, however, when these two instances occur simultaneously. This is only one example of how complex the homeowner and contractor relationship can be, so it's important for both parties to take preventative measures. In the case that these types of disputes do occur, however, it's often helpful to at least speak with a construction attorney.
Tips for Homeowners to avoid Disputes
Homeowners can take a huge step in protecting themselves simply by hiring a licensed contractor. Though it may be cheaper to go the other route, unlicensed contractors really don't face much in the lines of repercussions if they skip out on a job. Additionally, it's important to ensure that a contract that explains exactly how this relationship will go is signed beforehand.
It's also imperative for a homeowner to do a bit of research before hiring a contractor. This means looking up contractor reviews and actually contacting their references. Finally, it's ideal to condition the payments made to the contractor on lien waivers. This will prevent the always financially harmful outcome of paying for the same work twice.
Tips for Contractors to avoid Disputes
Once again, the biggest thing for both parties is to have a written contract. In some states, these contracts are even required by law, so failing to have one can be especially detrimental for a contractor. Additionally, it's important for contractors to understand the obligations that they have working in a certain locality. This includes licensing and consumer protection laws.
Finally, it's ideal for a contractor to take photos of all of the work that they do, all of their progress and the completed version of their work. This can serve as strong evidence if any frivolous lawsuit arises from a homeowner.
The possibility will always exist that unforeseen occurrences could lead to construction delays and, on occasion, full on disputes. Having a construction attorney lay out a solid contract before work actually begins is a great way for both sides to deal with these potential problems. Additionally, the other aforementioned proactive measures can go a long way in making the whole construction process smoother. Though problems will often work their way into homeowner and contractor relations, simply being prepared can go a long way in preventing them.
Legal researcher Shelby Warden writes articles to raise awareness of important legal issues. The experienced litigators of the construction attorney NY firm Canfield, Madden & Ruggiero LLP know how to help when either side fails to perform. They have a strong knowledge of contractual requirements, and offer services ranging from construction phase support through contract compliance.
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