Construction projects involve the building, repair, or improvement of buildings and structures. Such jobs can involve either commercial business buildings, or private residential units. As a major industry, construction is often segmented into specific sub-fields and categories. Some examples of this include:

  • Foundation, steel, and metal work;
  • Stone, cement, wood, or carpentry work;
  • Electrical installation;
  • Ceiling and roofing; and
  • Insulation jobs.

Construction projects can often result in some specific types of disputes, because of the level of complexity involved. Some examples of the most common construction disputes include:

  • Disputes regarding the quality or cost of materials used in a project;
  • Labor or union disputes, such as wage disputes or salary issues;
  • Errors involving construction plans, or the execution of plans;
  • Failure to complete the project on time;
  • Projects being left unfinished mid-construction;
  • Disputes regarding the quality of the completed project;
  • Safety and hazard issues, such as those involving Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) violations;
  • Improper disposal of waste materials; and
  • Breach of construction contracts.

An example of a common construction dispute occurs when a construction company fails to complete a project midway through construction. This may happen for various reasons, such as a shortage of materials or lack of planning. Depending on the facts surrounding each specific case, specific parties can be held liable for losses or damages.

When a property owner and a contractor engage in a construction contract, a common dispute to occur would be construction fraud. Resolving the dispute is usually defined by the terms of the construction contract, as it outlines the obligations and duties of the contractor and the property owner.

The best way to prepare for a construction dispute case is to consult with the appropriate attorney. The attorney can review the facts of your case and determine how best you should move forward. As construction disputes can quickly become quite complicated, consulting with an attorney is the best way to ensure you stay informed and involved in your own legal dispute.

Prior to consulting with an attorney, you should determine whether the attorney offers a complimentary legal consultation. A legal consultation is an initial meeting with an attorney. During this meeting you will ask the attorney questions about your specific legal matter, and determine whether you would like the attorney to represent you. The attorney will also use the consultation to determine if they can legally and competently represent you, based on the questions that you asked and the information that you provide.

What Documentation and Questions Should I Compile Before I Meet With My Construction Disputes Attorney?

What exactly is discussed and determined during a legal consultation will vary widely, depending on the circumstances of the case as well as the different areas of law involved. Generally speaking, consultations will consist of discussions regarding attorney’s fees, legal claims and facts, and any questions you may have. Attorney fee arrangements typically appear as a contingency fee, a flat fee, or an hourly fee.

An initial legal consultation will always include a discussion of the legal facts of your case, as well as your possible legal claims. It is important to be honest when providing information to your attorney, because lying about the facts or circumstances surrounding your case can have consequences in the long term of your case. Another reason to be completely honest is that legal consultations will always be confidential, and what is communicated between you and the attorney cannot be used against you in court.

To clarify, whatever you discuss with an attorney, can not be discussed outside of the meeting room. However, it is important that you do not discuss what you discussed with the attorney with a non-attorney, as then the communication will lose confidentiality.

Before the consultation, you should properly prepare for the consultation so you can make the most of it. Gather any documents you have related to your case. It is important to bring every document you have for the attorney to review. This is because an attorney will be able to determine which documents are relevant to your legal claims, and which are not.

In terms of construction disputes, this may include:

  • Documentation of contracts;
  • Documentation of materials;
  • Documentation of project progress; and
  • Photos and video of the construction site and progress.

Some examples of general documentation to bring to an initial consultation commonly include:

  • Any supplemental documents which exist to explain the contract;
  • Police or accident reports;
  • Property deeds, or any documents relating to the property, such as an oil and gas lease;
  • Employment records; or
  • Other documents evidencing damages, such as medical records or expenses, or any warranties or letters created by the other party.

You should use the consultation to ask the attorney any questions you may have. These questions can be specifically related to your case, or they may be more general. Some examples of general questions to ask an attorney when consulting with them include:

  • Their legal education background and legal specialization;
  • The attorney’s past experience in handling cases similar to yours;
  • The outcome of legal cases similar to yours;
  • If the attorney has any payment plan options;
  • If the attorney works with others who may have a part in handling your case, or may be billing on your case; and
  • How long the attorney expects your case to take, and what they estimate your case may cost.

Although an initial legal consultation does not form an attorney-client relationship, once again, everything that you communicate with an attorney during a consultation will remain privileged and confidential. Thus, communications will be confidential, just as if an attorney-client privilege had formed. Because of this fact, you should provide the attorney with all of the information you have, whether helpful or harmful, so that the attorney may make a competent evaluation of your case and claims.

What Makes a Construction Dispute Case Strong? What Makes it Weak?

Although it may sound obvious, strong construction dispute cases are dependent on the legal facts and circumstances of the claim, as well as what evidence is available to support those claims. If the legal facts and circumstances surrounding the case match the law regarding elements necessary to prove the legal claim in your area, then your case will have a strong chance of being successful, and you will be able to collect damages.

However, if you do not possess evidence to support your legal claims, or the legal facts do not fulfill the required elements necessary to prove your claim, your case will have a lesser chance of being successful. Thus, it is important to provide all of the evidence you have to an attorney during an initial consultation, so they can tell you about your chances for success and inform you of the legal elements that must be demonstrated to have a successful case.

When Do I Absolutely Need a Construction Disputes Lawyer?

Construction disputes generally involve a number of different issues and legal remedies. A monetary damages award may be awarded in order to compensate the plaintiff for lost wages, medical expenses, costs of materials, and other expenses. Construction laws may vary by state, as well as according to the specific industry or sub-field involved. Additionally, construction projects are subject to strict deadlines.

Should any legal dispute arise, a knowledgeable local real estate attorney will be necessary. A local and experienced real estate attorney can help you explore your options, and determine how best to proceed, given your particular case’s facts. Each state has different lawsuit filing details, procedures, and deadlines for a breach of a construction contract claim. As such, a skilled attorney would be best suited for ensuring you understand your state’s laws and how those laws could affect your case.

As can be seen, an attorney will help you gather the necessary evidence needed to support your claim, and can work towards an appropriate remedy. Finally, an attorney can also represent you in court, as needed, and ensure your legal rights are protected throughout the process.