5 Essential Construction Law Tips for Contractors to Avoid Legal Disputes
Legal disputes can be expensive and time-consuming for contractors in the construction industry.
Developing a basic understanding of construction law, and implementing some proactive strategies, can help contractors to minimize the risk of legal conflicts and make sure that projects are completed without any major hiccups or problems.
If you’re a contractor and would like to avoid legal disputes (who wouldn’t?), we’ve compiled some tips to help you maintain a strong legal foundation for your future construction projects.
1. Keep it clear and comprehensive
Just like a foundation is an indispensable part of the construction process for any structure, a solid contractual agreement is a necessary part of any construction project.
Make sure that all of the contracts you deal with are clear and comprehensive while accurately reflecting the scope of the project, anticipated timelines, terms of payment (this one’s important!), any change order procedures, and pre-existing mechanisms for dispute resolution.
It’s important to work with a construction attorney to draft or review your contracts to ensure that they are legally sound and doing the best job possible to protect your interests.
2. Document absolutely everything
In the event of any disagreements or contract disputes, it helps to have a solid paper trail and clear documentation of every step of the process, especially problems you’ve encountered and communications between you and the client.
Document project progress, any changes, and communication between you, clients, subcontractors, and suppliers.
This documentation can serve as essential evidence in case of disputes, and can provide clarity on project milestones or delays.
Essentially, keeping careful documentation can help you to protect yourself if any legal conflicts arise throughout the course of the project.
3. Comply with codes & regulations
It’s your duty to make sure that every aspect of the project fully complies with local building codes, regulations, and permit requirements.
Be sure that you’re familiar with local laws governing construction projects in your area, and adhere to them as meticulously as possible. Failure to comply with codes and regulations can lead to legal consequences, delays in the project timeline, and expensive fines. They might also result in an unsafe work environment that puts your employees and colleagues in danger.
4. Risk management
Risk management is key for protecting you against legal disputes, or avoiding them entirely.
Identifying any potential risks associated with your project, and developing a strategy to mitigate them, is a great way to keep a project on track and avoid any complications that might arise.
In order to do this, you should conduct due diligence before entering into any contract– we’d recommend working with a construction lawyer! You should also thoroughly vet any subcontractors that you’ll be working with.
Finally, you should always secure insurance coverage to protect yourself and everyone involved in the project.
5. Work with a construction attorney
Clear and open communication between all parties is a necessity for avoiding disputes. However, construction contracts can get long and complex, and as a contractor, your time is at a premium.
Construction attorneys are able to quickly parse your construction contracts to ensure that your best interests are being protected, and that every part of the project is above-board and compliant with regulations.