5 Tips for Avoiding Construction Defect Litigation
The last thing you need to be facing in the midst of a global pandemic is the lengthy and often expensive process of construction defect litigation. Whether the dispute or the defect itself is the fault of the contractor or owner, it’s likely to severely damage your reputation. To help you avoid this type of litigation, protect your reputation, and preserve your bottom line, we’ve compiled five key tips you should be aware of. If you are currently facing a construction dispute as a result of a defect on your project, it’s of the utmost importance that you reach out to a Fort Lauderdale construction defect lawyer.
1. Establish a Well-Defined, Accurate Scope of Work
Our first tip to avoid construction defect litigation is to ensure that the scope of work for your construction project is well-defined, accurate, and consistent with all relevant attachments, drawings, and specifications. In the case that there is an inconsistency between the contract documents and specifications provided, it should be inferred that the contractor will provide the better quality or quantity of materials or work. However, you should also be sure to report these omissions or inconsistencies to the owner. Providing proper documentation and clearly detailed work processes will prevent miscommunication between contractors and subcontractors and contractors and owners.
You should also provide notice to the owner as to key system installations, such as waterproofing or HVAC, in order to allow time for review and inspection by third-party inspectors. This will be a major benefit in identifying problems and ensuring you are able to complete corrective work and services before it leads to litigation down the line. If you need any assistance creating a scope of work that successfully ensures your projects meet the deadlines of all parties involved and reduces the possibility of construction defect litigation, it’s time to contact a Fort Lauderdale contractor lawyer.
Related: Perfecting the Scope of Work
2. Require Change Orders
In general, this tip applies to design defects resulting from a design professional’s failure to produce accurate, well-defined construction documents. These defects occur by error or omission and typically require some type of replacement or redesign. To ensure your construction business is protected from construction defect litigation as a result of a design defect, your contract should require that any and all changes not specified in the plans should be documented through a change order and approved by the owner and third-party inspectors as soon as possible. This avoids the miscommunication and liability associated with field changes and verbal changes from the approved plans and specifications.
3. Carefully Select and Evaluate Subcontractors
If you wish to avoid construction defect litigation, one of the most critical tips would be to reduce the possibility for construction defects altogether by carefully selecting and evaluating subcontractors. It can be easy to choose subcontractors who work for less, especially if you’re trying to keep costs down, but you’ll reap the benefits in the long run of hiring workers that you can trust to provide high-quality workmanship. Once you’ve selected a highly-experienced subcontractor who you believe can perform a successful job, it’s equally important to carry out ongoing evaluations as work proceeds to make sure they are carrying out their responsibilities with precision and efficiency.
4. Invest in Third-Party Quality Assurance
You’ve likely thought about implementing quality control programs, such as a quality assurance group, on your jobsite to conduct daily inspections of the work performed and materials provided to detect small issues and resolve them in a cost-effective manner as soon as possible. This is extremely helpful in terms of making sure everyone is responsible for avoiding construction defects, properly documenting work performed, and keeping the project on time and in line with the specifications of the contract. However, it may also prove beneficial to invest in third-party quality assurance throughout the life cycle of the project. You and your team are able to focus on what you do best while a third-party inspector is able to discover and document hidden deficiencies as quickly as possible before they are able to create conditions for construction defect litigation in the future. It’s crucial to act proactively as fixing the same problem will carry different costs depending on what stage of the construction you’re currently on, especially if there is damage or potential injury.
5. Ensure Alternative Dispute Resolution Is an Available Option
Last, but certainly not least, the final tip for avoiding construction defect litigation is to ensure that your contract specifies disputes should attempt to be resolved first through methods of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration or mediation. This will significantly reduce the likelihood for the owner to bring a lawsuit against you and, in the case of certain methods like arbitration, both parties can still reach a legally-binding solution. As drafting these clauses for future contracts can be rather complex, we highly recommend consulting a Fort Lauderdale construction dispute attorney who will be glad to assist you with drafting these clauses and making sure your arbitration clause is legitimate and binding in the case of a construction dispute.
If you would like to speak with a Fort Lauderdale construction dispute lawyer, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.