Construction Project Disputes. The SMB guide to Resolutions

There are so many things that can go wrong on a construction project that nearly any minor fault, defect, or delay can become a potential claim. That’s why before any work is started strong agreements and valid contracts with clear-cut intentions should be signed by both the contractor and employer. This will provide both parties with realistic expectations for the project as well as reasonable reactions to the unexpected.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case as you may have guessed and probably witnessed with the numerous ongoing lawsuits regarding matters related to construction. The following are typical claims and disputes that may arise between involved parties on a construction project. They are disputes on:

  • An unforeseen change or delay in the works of the project. This can be a claim made by the employer against the contractor or vice versa.
  • A nonpayment of the fee by the employer to the contractor.
  • A breach of contract and agreement. This can be a claim made by the employer against the contractor or vice versa.
  • Disagreements on extension time and/or more money to complete the project. This can be a claim made by the employer against the contractor or vice versa.
  • Loss and expense, in regard to time and money. This can be a claim made by the contractor against the employer or vice versa.
  • Cost of variation in the case when an employer makes alterations to the scope of work done by the contractor.
  • Poor quality of end product, which is generally made by the employer.
  • Defective materials, supplies and or equipment. This can be a claim made by the employer against the contractor or vice versa.
  • Liquidated damages in which a contractor completes work late and the employer must be compensated.

Construction Expert Witnesses

In cases where disputes make it all the way to trial, a construction expert witness is usually called upon by either party to give their expertise and factual evaluation of the situation at hand. These witnesses are usually experts in the field of construction and can present valuable expert opinions about evidence obtained, hypothetical scenarios, or relevant facts and information presented in court.

To be effective and influential in a court setting, construction expert witnesses have to possess a degree of specialization in their field that they obtained through many years actively working in the construction industry or other closely related occupations. In addition, expert witnesses also have to be impartial and unbiased to anything that’s presented to them in court, only stating the facts based on personal knowledge and experience rather than having familiarity with the case or either party. Expert witnesses must not try to sway the decision of the court in any way by showing favor or subjectivity towards either party involved.

Subjects that a construction expert witness may be asked to deliberate upon are contract technicalities, faulty designs, the presence of gross negligence or a manufacturer’s defect, any involvement of foul play, or the legitimacy of a claim based on real intentions. In the end, the main purpose of an expert witness is to strengthen an argument, whether for or against the defendant, by merely presenting facts that they know to be true and relevant based on their expertise.

Construction Dispute Resolution Services

If you’re looking to dispute your legal issues with the second party without having to proceed to court hearings and trials, then construction dispute resolution services can provide you with reasonable alternatives. By enlisting these services, you may be able to come to an arrangement agreeable to both parties without the necessity of a trial.

A dispute resolution service provides expertise and assistance to individuals, groups or companies that are involved in disputes such as lawsuits or similar matters regarding construction by evaluating the circumstances and events leading up to the claim by one or both parties. These types of services are especially common in the construction industry where disagreements and conflicts between contractors and employees can be a frequent occurrence. A dispute resolution service’s main goal is to ultimately provide a solution that both parties will agree upon, thus putting an end to any existing claims or disputes while avoiding further legal action.

There are a few choice methods of dispute resolution services. Below are four methods that a service may use in an attempt to come to a viable solution for both the contractor and the employer.

  • Both parties try to come to an agreement by negotiating settlements with or without the presence of a lawyer or any other legal figure.
  • An individual or group of individuals assist the parties in reaching a settlement by mediating each party’s terms and making recommendations.
  • A more formal form of mediation in which both parties will be legally bound by the final decision that is made by the arbitrator to reach a settlement.
  • This happens in the case when no settlement can be made and both parties are referred to court proceedings for a final decision by a judge.
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