Whether you're a contractor or a developer, construction disputes are messy -- and, quite potentially, expensive. While it's always better to avoid them, they're bound to happen if you're involved in the industry for any length of time.
So, what are your options for handling a dispute once it happens? Here are some potential solutions:
1. Party-to-party negotiations
Direct negotiation is always worth a try, especially if you think the other party is open to the idea. Sometimes, an unexpected event will cause a problem -- whether it's weather conditions or supply issues -- and you can avoid having the project or your relationship with the other party deteriorate with good communication.
Sometimes, it helps to have a mediator involved -- especially if you and the other party are having trouble compromising. A mediator can act as a neutral voice that will cut through the emotions involved and help find a solution.
3. Asking a specialist
If the conflict involves something technical, a specialist may be called in to give his or her expert opinion. That may be enough to alleviate any concerns you or the other party may have and move things forward.
Sometimes, a contract will actually include an arbitration agreement -- and his or her opinion may or may not be binding. An arbitrator, unlike a mediator, will eventually rule in favor of one party or the other. If other, more amicable routes have been tried, arbitration can be less costly than litigation.
Sometimes, there's nothing that can be done except move toward litigation. If you're coping with a problem that seems insurmountable, if the contract isn't clear or the other party is simply being unreasonable, litigation may offer you the best opportunity to avoid further losses.
Construction issues don't have to kill your business or your project. Get experienced legal advice about your situation before you decide how to proceed.