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Avoid disputes with your subcontractors with these tips

Disputes with a subcontractor can be costly, time-consuming and damaging to the reputation of your construction business. That's why it's far better to try to avoid conflicts in the first place -- at least, as much as possible.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid disputes with your subcontractors:

1. Put everything in writing.

No matter how well you know a subcontractor, you're less likely to end up in a protracted legal dispute if you have a good contract.

However, it's also important to remember that your original contract may need some tweaks now and then. For example, change orders are a common issue. Rather than relying on a verbal understanding (which is easy to misconstrue or forget), document the change order. That signed documentation can not only prevent a problem with a subcontractor's performance, but it can also be a valuable piece of evidence if you can't avoid a dispute.

2. Embrace clarity in your plans.

Subcontractors often run into a problem when a contract is too vague and open to misinterpretation regarding the scope of the work or specifications of a project. While it's sometimes tedious to include all the fine details of a project (and always cumbersome), that's the best way to keep everyone on the same page and avoid conflicts.

3. Don't start work until the owner signs off on changes.

Owners make change orders all the time. However, they don't always understand the ramification of those orders when it comes to the price and the time needed to finish a project. Then they can balk at paying because they're expectations aren't met.

Don't let subcontractor's start work until your owner signs off on everything -- including an understanding of the increased costs and delays that a change order will bring. Clarifying any potential misunderstandings upfront can save a lot of time and money later.

Disputes with a subcontractor can sap your energy and hurt your business. Let an experienced attorney look at your case and help you understand your options or try to find solutions other than litigation whenever possible.

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