Handling a construction dispute
under a construction contract
Most building contractors are reputable people and want to do the job
properly. They will usually work hard to resolve a construction dispute, as it’s good for you, them and their
business for this to happen.
However, as you are aware, it’s not a perfect world. Things can and do go wrong with even the best-laid plans. When
things aren’t going right with the way the work under the construction contract is
progressing, the situation requires a little common sense.
If it’s not handled properly, a simple construction contract dispute can escalate into
the building contractor walking off the job or worse. If you have a construction dispute you have to proceed
smartly and also be fair. Start with the building contractor himself if you’re not happy and make your concerns
known by raising the issues in a clear but decent manner.
Generally, you'll find that your building contractor will do everything possible to make you happy. Keeping your
concerns to yourself and not saying what’s on your mind doesn’t allow the building contractor to fix the
If you’re unable to resolve the construction dispute issue with your contractor, then
enlisting the help from another professional familiar with the job may be possible. The architect who drew up the
plans for the addition, for example, may be able to step in and resolve the construction dispute issue.
However, if this doesn't work, there are a series of steps you can take to resolve a problem with a contractor.
You could outline the contractual obligations you feel haven't been met in a letter. Gather all the documents
relating to your project, including construction contracts, change orders and cancelled checks.Take photographs of
the problem and notify the building contractor that this has been done. Give a reasonable timeline for bringing the
items into compliance and send the letter out certified to the building contractor.
Filing a construction contract dispute complaint
about the building contractor
If this doesn’t work, then contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint. The bureau will
let the contractor know this has been done and it might light a fire with the contractor. Few reputable contractors
want a bad report with the bureau so often times they will act at this point.
You can report the building contractor to the county or State Licensing Board. This is bad news for a contractor
and they will want to avoid this since these boards can sometimes even fine the building contractor or take away
his or her license if he or she isn't functioning in accordance with law.
Perhaps you could seek mediation services through the licensing board or even the Better Business Bureau. By
bringing both parties to the table, the mediator might be able to broker an agreement that makes all parties happy
and results in your job being completed the way you want it done.
Bring the issue to court if all else fails. If you signed a construction contract and
that work hasn't been completed correctly and now the bills are coming in, you may find you have no other choice
but do this. Save this option for the absolute last and remember most good building contractors will want to meet
you half way long before it gets to this point. Sometimes a simple misunderstanding is to blame and no matter whose
fault it is, it's a good idea to try and resolve matters peacefully among yourselves before getting to this
Unfortunately, bad building contractors do exist. By having a written construction contract and scope of work in
hand before work commences, you can protect yourself if you find out you've hired one of these. Work should be
completed in accordance with a construction contract and should be done to specs before a
building contractor considers a job done and billable.
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