Construction Contracts – Pay Now to Save Later

All to often in my job I am faced with clients who end up in a dispute on a construction project. Whether it be a public or private, commercial or residential, and no matter how large or small the project or contractor, the first question I ask any potential client is - where's the contract? The contract is the cornerstone of any construction project and eventual dispute. It contains the scope of work and all provisions which govern when disputes arise. Construction contract defined:
Construction Contract:A legal document which specifies the details of a construction project. A good construction contract will include: 1.The contractors registration number. 2.A statement of work quality such as 'Standard Practices of the Trades' or 'according to Manufacturers Specifications.' 3.A set of blue prints or plans. 4.A set of specifications. 5.Any allowances. 6.A construction timetable including starting and completion dates. 7.A fixed price for the work, or a time and materials formula. 8.A payment schedule. 9.A written warrantee. 10.A clause which outlines how any disputes will be resolved.
Any savvy contractor will have a custom tailored contract for each job that will help put that company in a good position when the dispute arises and its time to call the lawyer. A thousand dollar contract upfront can save a contractor thousands upon thousands later on in the project. Properly written ADR clauses and indemnity clauses can save a contractor thousands in legal fees and court/administrative costs. All to often, I will have contractors operating on oral agreements, (just a handshake and a man's word!) or I have contractors who download a form off the internet, not knowing what provisions lie within. In these current times, form documents and oral agreements are unacceptable. Parties who operate like this will lose money over the long haul, especially those who want to operate on a large scale and actually make money. Otherwise, the big boy contractors will make you use their contracts which are so lopsided that the other contracting party will never prevail in any dispute. If you as a contractor are considering using  or signing a contract given to you by a contractor you are subbing to, then you should have that agreement reviewed by a professional so as to make sure the sub's rights are protected. For more information see Wolfe Law Group's website regarding contract drafting and contract review.
About the Author: Seth Smiley
Seth is an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana and California. He is the owner and lead attorney at Smiley Law Firm. To speak with Seth fill out the form on this page. Follow Seth on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.

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