How to handle disputes with builders

It is normal for a dispute to arise in an industry, especially where so many people are involved. We have contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, builders and everyone else involved in different construction projects and a dispute may arise if one of these does not meet their contractual obligations. It is important to avoid any disputes by ensuring all parties involved in the construction process are on the same page from the outset. Developing an outright contract that outlines the expectations of the project is key to avoiding disputes. 

Builder laying on ground

Disputes with builders can be a really frustrating experience. Imagine a project stalling halfway because of a dispute that could have been rectified. Below are some steps one can take to handle disputes with builders in case they arise in a project you are handling; 

1. Check the building contract

Before the project begins, come up with a contract that outlines the obligations you require the builder to meet. From the payments time, completion time and quality of work. In case of a dispute, it is essential to document everything that has led to the dispute. Keep a record of all conversations, emails and any other communication with the builder.

2. Communicate with the builder

Man on a scaffold

Over years, communication and dialogue have been considered the most efficient ways to solve a dispute. Disagreements can be very costly, especially in the construction industry. Discuss the concern clearly and politely with your builder. This can be done either in person, over the phone or in writing. Refer to the contract if the dispute arises from a breach of one of the clauses in your contract.

3. Mediation before an impartial intermediary

In the instance you fail to solve the dispute with your builder through communication, it is advice to involve a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps to facilitate a conversation and negotiation between two or more parties that are involved in a dispute. The mediator will not make any decisions or provide any legal advice but will help you communicate effectively to find a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute with the builder.

4. Seek legal advice

Letter lawyer written on a paper next to pound coin

When communication and mediation fail to bear fruit when you are involved in a dispute with a builder, seeking legal advice can be a useful step in understanding your rights and options. First, do sufficient research on whether your dispute warrants litigation. Consult with local attorneys and review your contract. Provide them with documented evidence of what led to the dispute and they will advise you whether to litigate. It is important to work closely with your attorney throughout the dispute resolution process.

5. File a complaint

Filing litigation should be the last option one considers when attempting to resolve a dispute with a builder. Litigations are often complex, expensive and time-consuming. Consider your legal options after thorough consultations with your attorney who specializes in construction law to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Determine the damages and file a complaint. You may consider negotiating a settlement before going to trial.

6. Litigation in a court of law

If a settlement cannot be reached, both parties will present their case in a court of law before a judge or jury who will determine the outcome.

It is essential to remain calm and professional throughout the dispute-resolution process as you don’t want builders to one day not to turn up to your work. Resolving the dispute friendly and efficient is beneficial and in the best interest of everyone involved. It might also save the cost of having to go through a legal process.