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How strong contracts can resolve construction defect claims early

Whether you are a property owner looking to improve an existing structure, someone planning to build a new home from scratch, or a contractor who provides construction or remodeling services, a dispute about the quality of work, the materials used or the design you agreed upon with the other party can lead to expensive litigation.

For construction professionals, there is also the risk of damage to your professional reputation when an issue arises that you cannot resolve outside of court. Angry customers could damage a company's reputation and drive away potential business. At the same time, those who don't receive the work they pay for should have some form of recourse to protect them from fly-by-night contractors who don't finish the job or who cut corners for profit.

The best way to prevent construction defect claims or dissatisfaction with a remodeling or building a new edifice is to be specific while creating your construction contract. Both parties should take care to outline their expectations and obligations in the written contract before work begins in order to reduce construction defect claims that are merely the result of miscommunication.

The more you have in writing, the greater protection you have

Whether you are someone helping turn someone's dream kitchen into a reality or a homeowner funding a remodel, clear expectations and obligations in a contract can help ensure that everyone participating in the remodel or construction project has the same expectations and standards.

Homeowners should be as specific as possible about what they want, and contractors should be explicit about what they can deliver, when and for what price. Including an estimate for costs, a specific process to revise that estimate if issues arise, specific requirements regarding materials and design, or aesthetic expectation in the contract all help clarify the obligations of each party.

Contracts can help you settle conflicts and possibly avoid court

With a robust contract, construction companies have protection from an unhappy client who refuses to pay, while those hiring construction professionals have protection against poor performance on behalf of the contractor they hired.

Once you have reviewed the contract carefully to ensure that there has been a breach of the agreement made with the other party, you have the opportunity to address that issue before you get the courts involved. Negotiations or even alternative dispute resolution systems like mediation or arbitration could help you reach a compromise that resolves the issue to the satisfaction of both parties.

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