How Do I Handle a Construction Dispute?
The manner in which you handle a construction dispute will depend greatly on the factors of the dispute. Who is the dispute between? What is the dispute about? Is there a solution short of having to go to court? Is the contract legally binding?
Oregon law requires that Notice be given to a Contractor in advance of filing a lawsuit.
If the construction dispute is between the client and a subcontractor, the main contractor should be involved. If the construction dispute is between the client and the original contractor, or is in regards to non-payment for services rendered or unnecessary liens, the contract should be consulted. If both parties cannot agree upon a solution it may be time to consult a lawyer.
It is important that you review the contract prior to signing it, and revisit it should a dispute arise. The contract should clearly outline what the contractor is required to do, as they are not held responsible for work that is not outlined and agreed to in the contract. In similar regard, the client is not liable to pay for work that is not clearly outlined in the proposal. If the dispute cannot be settled by reviewing the contract, it may be wise to try dispute resolution.
In some cases, the contractor may not be able to fulfill the terms of the agreement and may choose to hire a 3rd party. In these cases, both the owner and the subcontractors should attempt to resolve the issue with the main contractor. Since the contract is between the client and the contractor, the client cannot make demands of the subcontractor. The subcontractor needs to deal directly with the contractor to resolve the dispute and the contractor should advise the subcontractor of how they would like to resolve the issue at hand.
In the case of non-payment where work has already been completed, the contractors may feel there is nothing they can do. The truth is depending on the jurisdiction they may be able to place a mechanics lien on the property until payment has been made in full. Doing this prevents the client from selling the property or refinancing without paying what they owe to the contractor.
If a construction dispute arises from a wrongful lien on the property, they property owner can take legal action to resolve the issue. This may mean consulting with a lawyer and having them write a letter, to actually receiving a court order to have it removed.
If you are involved in a Construction Dispute in Oregon or Washington and need legal assistance contract us.