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Practice Center - Construction Law

Construction Law - An Overview

In recent years, the construction industry in the U.S. has seen unprecedented growth. Construction of both residential and commercial buildings has increased rapidly. With the rapid growth in the industry, however, has come a rapid growth in construction-related disputes. When you are faced with construction related legal issues, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Construction Contracts

The construction contract is the essential document that sets out the rights and responsibilities of each party to the agreement. It is important that you read this document carefully, and that you understand all of it. The legal consequences may not be obvious, so it's important to have a lawyer review it with you. While some compromise may be necessary, you need to be certain that this truly is the agreement you want to make. If it is not, you should not sign the agreement unless the changes you want are made. You will be legally bound by this contract, and it is no defense to say that you didn't read it all the way through.

The contract should tell you exactly what the contractor is going to do, and should also tell you how much the property owner will be expected to pay for what the contractor does. Most construction contracts are standardized forms, sometimes supplied by a trade association. A typical construction contract will set out the timeline for the completion of the project, the schedule of payments, any penalties for late performance, and the method to be used to resolve disputes. When reviewing the contract, you should keep in mind what is reasonable to expect from each party, including yourself. Are the time limits set out realistic, or are they just setting the contractor up for failure? Are the fees and expenses charged within the financial capabilities of the property owner, or is the owner agreeing to something that cannot be delivered? You are the best judge of what seems reasonable, and you should keep that consideration in mind as you consider signing the contract.

The construction contract is the entire statement of the contractor-property owner relationship. Your best protection is to be completely familiar with every part of it.

Construction Disputes

Despite everyone's best efforts to make everything work well, disputes may arise during any construction project. Disputes that arise during a construction project can cause delays that add to the expense of the project. Disputes that arise at any time are costly, and consume a great deal of everyone's time and energy.

Most construction contracts will tell you how disputes are to be resolved. Many contracts will have the parties use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as arbitration or mediation, rather than take a dispute to court. If the contract requires alternative dispute resolution, that is how disputes will be heard: if it's specified in the contract, it is not optional. On the other hand, alternative dispute resolution methods are generally faster and less expensive than traditional litigation, which works to the advantage of both parties.

Conclusion

Construction projects can give rise to massive legal issues and problems. In many cases, knowing what may come up can protect against those issues and problems getting out of hand, and causing undue trouble or expense for everyone involved. Everyone involved in a construction should have legal counsel to help protect him or her from what may arise. An experienced construction law attorney can give you the counsel you need to protect your interests.

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