This is the second post in my series on the handling of construction disputes involving Olympia and Tacoma construction companies. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and stressed the need for small to medium sized contractors to retain an experienced business law attorney. By retaining qualified counsel, such companies can ensure that they have a representative who understands the finer points of the procedures involved with bidding on work and collecting payments. In this post I will discuss an important topic for business owners – the fact that proper contract negotiation and drafting can help to avoid construction disputes. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Construction disputes are, unfortunately, common. Such disputes can involve claims that work was inadequately performed, disagreements regarding the scope of the work which was to be completed, arguments over the amount or timing of payment, and more. Many of these disagreements can be traced to one, or both, of two factors. The first is the lack of a clear understanding between a contractor and their customer. The second is a poorly written contract. I will discuss each of these issues in turn.
When a construction company agrees to do a job it is important that several terms of the agreement be clearly defined. These terms include the scope of the work that is to be performed, dates as to which different aspects of the work are to be completed, and conditions which the customer or other third-parties must complete before work can begin or be completed. Unfortunately, many contractors begin a job without having such terms unambiguously defined. This can lead to a wide range of disputes and can delay, or even prevent, a contractor from being paid. Retaining an experienced lawyer can help a company to consider issues it may not have thought of otherwise. This, in turn, can prevent such disputes from arising.
Other potential problems arise when the parties clearly understand their agreement but the written contract is not clear. Ambiguous or incomplete written agreements can leave a party with “wiggle room” to argue that the job was not performed adequately or that they are not required to pay the contractor. The best way to avoid these types of problems is to have counsel negotiate the agreement and reduce it to a written contract. Using a “form” contract or one not written for that specific job can leave a company open to disputes from their customers.
Construction disputes can be devastating for small to medium sized contractors. This is due to the fact that such companies often need to be paid for a job so that they have the funds/resources needed to bid on the next project. Delays in payment can, therefore, prevent a company from bidding on new work. This can drive a small company out of business.
If you own a construction company then you can avoid disputes by having experienced counsel negotiate your agreements and reduce them to a written contract. I am an Olympia lawyer who handles such matters. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. Our firm also serves the Thurston County cities of Lacey, Tumwater, and Yelm, the Pierce County cities of Tacoma, Puyallup, and Lakewood, the Lewis County cities of Centralia, Chehalis, the King County cities of Seattle, Auburn, Bellevue, Burien, and Federal Way, as well as other areas in Washington, including Grays Harbor, Mason, Cowlitz, and Pacific Counties.