5 Common Causes of Construction Disputes

July 19, 2021

Every day you may pass numerous construction sites on your way to work, buzzing with workforce activity. It’s always some building under construction for a huge condominium, apartment, or a corporate plaza erected in a limited time frame with the workforce constantly hustling. In an ideal situation, everything would be as per the plan and according to the project blueprint. However, this isn’t what usually happens.

According to a survey response, 24% of the respondents experienced at least one construction industry-related dispute in the last 12 months. However, 10% of respondents said they encountered two disputes, and 5% said they had seen five or more disputes over the last 12 months. Therefore, this provides a clear insight into what usually happens at construction sites.

Why Do Construction Disputes Happen?

It is a genuinely intriguing question as to why construction disputes happen when there are fine blueprints, contracts, and authoritative figures involved. While there may be countless conditional challenges that lead to a construction dispute, here are the five most common causes of disputes in the construction field.

1.   Uncertainty

Uncertainty is created when there is a gap between the information required to execute a task and the information provided. You may think every piece of important information has been provided at the start of a big construction deal, but sometimes it doesn’t actually work like that.

Understandably, a construction project involves various complex tasks, attention to detail, and various types of fulfillment criteria. The workforce might not be able to match the level of understanding and skill required to execute it. Or sometimes, even if they do complete the required task with their appropriate capabilities, the project supervisor may claim it to be not as per the instructions given.

Therefore, if uncertainty issues are to be avoided, project managers, supervisors, and members can work diligently to solve these problems on hand and proceed without any disruption.

2.   Contractual Errors

One of the biggest reasons for constructional disputes has to be contractual errors. What happens is that a standard form of contract may lay down the risks and obligations of the stakeholders involved, which they all unanimously agree upon. However, construction projects are a long-term commitment with high chances of uncertainty. Therefore, rigid contractual agreements become inapplicable to a potential situation that may arise.

Even though it is common to amend project terms and create contracts that accommodate such changes, it is quite challenging to involve all the parties and agree upon those changes. Thus, as a consequence, differences between the stakeholders may arise leading to a construction dispute.

Furthermore, there is often uncertainly in changes in the work or adding additional work requested by the owner that is beyond the scope of the original contract.  It is important to review such changes, have the changes detailed along with the costs for the labor or materials in writing, and have them approved by the owner or general contractor requesting them. This will avoid any disputes when payment becomes due and owing.

However, despite being the biggest reason for construction disputes, it is the most easily avoidable cause as well. Suppose a thoroughly vetted contract is initially put down with all its conditional terms and changes agreed upon by all the stakeholders. In that case, a huge hurdle can be saved that may become complicated down the line.

3.   Behavioral Problems

Uncertainty is unpredictable, and contracts cannot account for every scenario. Therefore, one or the other party involved may always jump in to take advantage of an unplanned situation as it arises.

Similarly, every party may get involved in a construction project with a different perspective. It may become challenging to get them all on the same page while mitigating the risks of disputes. Chances are that at least one party will have unrealistic expectations going forward on the project and lead to a dispute when confronted on their input.

Moreover, it is a common understanding in the construction industry that parties deny their responsibilities in getting involved in project activities in an attempt to avoid taking on the blame or liability.

4.   Long Term Commitment

Construction projects are a commitment of months and years involving huge investments of both time and money. Just as anything is quite possible, situations like a party going bankrupt, fraud, scams, or simply backing out of the project are liable to happen.

Unless there is a proper terms and conditions agreement and a contractual document that binds all the parties until the project is completed, such situations lead to major disputes, sometimes halting the project for months and even entirely.

So as a contractual issue is the core cause of disagreement and dispute for such a long-term commitment, it is important to draft a strong, respected, and unanimously agreed upon contract.

5.   Delays

One thing is for sure when two or more parties come together for a project such as a construction deal. There will be unpredictable nuances and consequent delays. Such delays lead to disputes as to who is responsible for them and who should take the blame to work it out accordingly.

A delay in a construction project amounts to added expenses, costs, and time. There may be logical reasons as to why there is a delay, from the workforce not getting along to shortage of machinery, weather, and contractual issues; each delay has to be dealt with accordingly.

Usually, complete contracts and terms and conditions agreements are drafted with delays as an essential part of deciding how to work through them. However, if the contractor workforce management and other stakeholders are not on the same page, drastic measures are required to quickly get the halted work restarted.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes construction disputes are unpredictable, and often inevitable. However, construction disputes can be avoided and effectively solved under the right practices to keep the construction project ongoing. For that, you may require a qualified and experienced construction lawyer from Grzymala Law Offices in Illinois.

As part of our construction law practice, we provide comprehensive representation to all the parties involved in a project. From general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and developers to owners, architects, and other construction professionals, we are the best in the game at clearing construction and safety issues. Contact us for further details!