Rarely is there a construction project in Texas where a dispute does not arise. Disagreements are one thing, but when those disagreements pose a risk to the project itself, that's another thing entirely. Thousands if not millions of dollars could be at stake. Delays, increased costs, and damage to the reputation of the parties involved are also at stake.
Types of Construction Disputes in Texas
Whether it is a multi-million-dollar commercial project, a public project, a home-building project, or a home remodeling project, disputes can happen. When they do, you want to be prepared. Here is a brief outline of common types of construction disputes you might anticipate.
Design and Planning Disputes
Design and planning disputes typically arise when there is a disagreement between the owner, architect, and contractor regarding the design and planning of a construction project.
- Disagreements over project specifications, drawings, and blueprints
- Design errors or omissions
- Changes in design or scope of work
- Disputes over project timelines and deadlines
Contractual disputes occur when the parties disagree over the terms and conditions of a construction contract. These disagreements involve anything from the wording of the terms, the implementation of the terms, the interpretation of the implementation of the terms, and more.
- Breach of contract
- Non-payment or delayed payment
- Scope changes or project delays
- Disputes over warranty or guarantee provisions
Construction Defect Disputes
Construction defect disputes arise when there is a dispute over the quality of the construction work performed or the materials used in the project.
- Building code violations
- Water intrusion or mold issues
- Structural issues
- Defective or faulty workmanship
Payment disputes are common in construction projects, particularly when there are delays or issues with the work performed. These disputes can arise between contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers.
- Non-payment or delayed payment
- Disagreements over the amount owed
- Disputes over change orders or extra work
- Lien claims or bond claims
Scheduling disputes typically arise when there are delays or changes to the construction schedule.
These disputes can be caused by various factors, such as:
- Unforeseen conditions or events
- Changes in project scope or design
- Disputes over the allocation of resources
- Contractor or subcontractor performance issues
Environmental disputes arise when there is a disagreement over the impact of a construction project on the environment.
- Wetlands or habitat destruction
- Water pollution or contamination
- Air pollution or emissions
- Noise pollution
Legal Options to Address Construction Disputes in Texas
Many construction disputes are resolved quickly and without intervention, but other disputes require legal assistance. To resolve the dispute, you may want to try direct negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or litigation.
Direct negotiations are the cheapest option with the most immediate impact. Often, direct negotiations are initially attempted, and if successful, the construction project can move ahead. If it is unsuccessful, at least the parties know what the issues are and they can move forward.
Mediation involves an impartial intermediary. The parties voluntarily agree to meet and work through the disagreement with the assistance of the mediator. This process does not involve testimony or evidence but it may coincide with a lawsuit. Many courts will require mediation after a lawsuit is filed as part of the process. Either way, whether you enter into mediation via a lawsuit, it is important to have an attorney as your advocate and advise you throughout it.
Arbitration is common in construction disputes. Many contracts require arbitration. This process is similar to a trial but is often cheaper and faster, though the latter is not always the case. At least one arbitrator hears and decides the case. Typically, the decision is permanent and unappealable.
Litigation involves filing a complaint in state or federal court, and if not settled prior to trial, the case will go to trial. The decision of the court can be presented for appellate review.
Potential Construction Dispute Remedies
Resolving construction disputes in Texas ends with at least one remedy. This remedy will hopefully address the full extent of the problem. It may help clarify misunderstandings, or it may place a harmed party in a better position. Monetary compensation and specific performance are used to remedy construction disputes.
Monetary compensation, if awarded, covers the damages suffered by the party. Types of damages vary somewhat depending on whether you are the contractor or the owner. Contractors often suffer damages related to delays, disruption, inefficiencies, losses of productivity, and the costs to hire new workers. Owners suffer damages related to defective construction, incomplete work, delays, and liquidated damages.
Sometimes monetary compensation is not enough. A court may order a party to fulfill obligations, referred to as specific performance. Though this remedy is not used as much, it is common where either the subject of the contract is unique (for example, unique skills are required and cannot be easily replaced or found), or the true value of damages is difficult to calculate.
Keep in mind that construction disputes can be complex and nuanced. Other remedies may be considered depending on your dispute's unique facts and circumstances. That's why it is always best to speak to a construction attorney to ensure you are properly proving your case and obtaining the right remedy.