The Main Methods to Settle a Construction Dispute - construction attorney - Alves RadCliffe

The Main Methods to Settle a Construction Dispute

If you run a company in the construction industry, you understand that disputes are a part of doing business. Disagreements between property owners and contractors, contractors and trade professionals, and subcontractors and suppliers can pop up at any time. The question is not will your construction company experience a dispute down the road. Instead, the question is how will you handle a disagreement with a supplier, subcontractor, or property owner?

The short answer involves hiring an experienced construction attorney who has successfully handled a considerable number of legal disputes. A construction lawyer can help you sign a legally valid contract that clearly defines every factor that goes into a construction project. Working with a state-licensed construction attorney also ensures your company receives legal protection against any invalid disputes.

One of the greatest benefits of hiring a construction lawyer is to have legal representation when the time comes to implement one of the main methods to settle a construction dispute.

What Options Do I Have to Settle a Construction Dispute?

You have four methods to settle a construction dispute: negotiations, mediation, arbitration, and litigation. It is important for you to understand the pros and cons of each method.


The first step to settle a construction dispute involves direct negotiations between both parties. Instead of costly litigation, negotiations can end a dispute without it ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. Your construction attorney submits an offer, which is countered by the lawyer representing the other party. Even if negotiations do not resolve the dispute, at least both parties understand what are the major points of contention.


Mediation typically follows failed negotiations. Held before an unbiased third party, mediation represents a confidential legal process where both parties agree to meet and work out their differences with the help of a third party. Mediation is a common resolution process for many business and commercial law cases.


Considered a faster and less costly legal option than litigation, arbitration is the preferred method of resolving disputes for many construction contractors. Depending on the extent of a dispute, arbitration can be held in front of one or as many as three arbitrators. The arbitration process unfolds in a similar way as a civil trial, with discovery a vital part of the process. Both parties exchange evidence and the statements made by witnesses. Arbitrations decisions are binding, which means if you choose this legal option, you must live with the decision made by the arbitrator or arbitrators.


Do you need a construction attorney for a contractor dispute? The answer is an emphatic yes if your dispute reaches the litigation phase of the legal process. The advantage of litigation over arbitration is although a judge issues a decision, you have the right to appeal the decision if it does not go in your favor. However, the downside to litigation is the process can be time-consuming, as well as you cannot recover court costs and attorney fees.

Alves Radcliffe, LLP — Construction Attorney

If you need assistance with an indemnity clause in your construction contract, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Determining if You Need a Construction Lawyer for a Contractor Dispute - construction attorney - Alves RadCliffe

Determining if You Need a Construction Lawyer for a Contractor Dispute

Construction disputes can be daunting for all involved parties, whether defendant or plaintiff. As disputes build up to lawsuits or legal action, you face the uncertainty of where you’ll end up. You might find yourself at a negotiation table or in a courtroom. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the legal world alone if you partner with a construction attorney.

If you’re facing any of the below situations, now is a good time to find an attorney.

If you’re suing or being sued

Contact a construction attorney or general consultant with construction expertise if lawsuits are involved. Standing alone on any side of a legal battle without a litigation professional can expose you to more damage. If you are the party being sued, a lawyer can identify cross-claims that allow you, the defendant, to sue the plaintiff for an issue related to the main case. If you are the party suing, a lawyer will work to keep your case airtight and fight against any cross-claims the defendant might raise.

Even if lawsuits haven’t been filed and they are merely hanging in the air as a threat, a lawyer can assist you in determining possible liabilities. Not all lawsuit threats manifest, and sometimes they’re merely thrown out to intimidate or force action. If any seem credible or likely to play out, you’ll want a legal expert on your side to get through the ensuing legal battle.

If your negotiations have stalled

The typical first step to approaching disputes is negotiations. If the property owner initiates the dispute, the contractor might offer additional or discounted future services, adjust the project cost, or offer alternatives. If the roles are reversed and the contractor sues because of the owner’s inability to meet payments, a common type of construction dispute faced by contractors, the owner might promise full payment spread out over a longer period.

Sometimes these negotiations work out, but sometimes one or both parties won’t budge and progress hits a wall. A lawyer versed in construction litigation can jumpstart negotiations and help both parties reach a common ground without sacrificing your best interests. In the case the negotiations transform into a lawsuit, a lawyer will be necessary to minimize your risk exposure and give you a higher chance of success in court.

If you’re dealing with a jobsite injury

It’s in your best interests to find an attorney if you’re facing a jobsite injury. These claims can get complicated very quickly when construction workers’ compensation is involved. You can try to keep these disputes out of the courtroom, but in many cases that simply isn’t possible. That’s why it’s important to find a qualified attorney as soon as the dispute begins to intensify. Once momentum builds, you could be dropped into an unfamiliar legal situation with little to no warning.

Regardless of the dispute, if you feel legal challenges could quickly arise, it’s good to have a construction attorney on your contact list. Preparation can make a huge difference, especially when you’re involved with a major construction project.

Alves Radcliffe, LLP — Construction Attorney

If you need assistance with an indemnity clause in your construction contract, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Pool Construction Disputes Look Out for These Common Issues - construction attorney - Alves RadCliffe

Pool Construction Disputes: Look out For These Common Issues

As with all construction projects, pool construction can be privy to complications resulting in legal disputes that need litigation from a construction attorney. Even thoroughly crafted contracts can be challenged. Whether you’re a pool contractor or property owner, it’s a good idea to be familiar with a few of the common legal issues that construction attorneys and general consultants see when construction doesn’t go according to plans. 

More work is needed than anticipated

Before taking a new project, pool contractors inspect the prospective construction site for feasibility. The geographical location and ground slope can impact the pool depth, width, construction materials, and where drainage should be installed. Every detail is necessary to create a pool plan the client approves of, and write a contract that protects the interests of the client and contractor.

However, there is no such thing as an inspection that catches every detail that could impact construction. Some details might not even be perceivable until construction is underway, due to incorrect or incomplete property floor plans or obstructions. A contractor might be halfway through excavating the site when they discover an issue that requires more work than listed in the original project plans.

New developments are to be expected in any construction job, and contractors are prepared to pivot and meet new needs. However, pivoting can sometimes result in additional work that pushes out the project timeline or raises the construction cost. In some cases, additional contractors or subcontractors may need to be brought on. The contract should explain how these events are handled, but property owners might take issue regardless. The dispute could escalate to the point you need to find an experienced construction attorney.

The pool needs repairs shortly after completion

Pool construction is intensive and has many moving parts. A mishap with one part or step of construction could cause ripples impacting later steps of the project, ultimately resulting in a pool that needs immediate repairs. Property owners might raise issues with superficial defects on tilework and grouting, or serious defects that undermine the pool’s wall or structure and could collapse. They might also blame contractors for a newly installed ladder that disconnects from the pool wall.

Standard construction contracts have indemnity clauses that lay out how responsibility is split among contractors, subcontractors, and property owners when construction is impacted by negligence. This helps determine how medical and legal costs are allocated should the pool defects result in injury. This also is a common cause for disputes because property managers and contractors alike could disagree about how indemnity is applied in practice.

There are disagreements about collection

Even if pool contractors and property owners agree about how and when payment is made, construction events that push out the timeline or result in larger costs could change the payment method. The property owner might expect a longer time to deliver while the pool contractor might expect more concise payments. Property owners might change their mind about increased costs and ask for additional services to make up the gap between what they deem appropriate and what they’re charged.

Any pool construction dispute can stir up legal issues, stress, and cost you time and money. If you’re a pool contractor or a property owner facing pool construction disputes, reach out to a local attorney for legal assistance.

Alves Radcliffe, LLP — Construction Attorney

If you need assistance with a pool construction dispute, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Understanding Your Construction Contract The Indemnity Clause - construction attorney - Alves RadCliffe

Understanding Your Construction Contract: The Indemnity Clause

Imagine this scenario: You’ve hired a general contractor to patch up your roof that has been stripped by extreme weather. While on the job, a subcontractor injures themself and sues you, the property owner. Fortunately, your contract with the general contractor has an indemnity clause that requires the general contractor to pay the subcontractor.

The above is a simplified example of how the indemnity clause can protect you when accidents happen. Often, a construction attorney or general consultant with experience in construction law  is needed to lay out the intricacies of the clause and figure out exactly who holds responsibility for injuries and damage.

What is an indemnity clause?

An indemnity clause determines who assumes responsibility for risk. There are three main parties in a clause: the claimant (the party making the claim), the indemnitee (the party being accused), and the indemnitor (the party taking responsibility for the accused). 

In the sample scenario above, the property owner is the indemnitee, the subcontractor the claimant, and the subcontractor the indemnitor. The clause transferred responsibility to the general contractor, protecting the property manager from legal expenses. Because indemnity clauses deal with the transfer of legal risk, they’re a common type of construction dispute.

What are the different types of indemnity clauses?

There are three main types of indemnity clauses. The broad form of indemnity states that the indemnitor assumes all responsibility for the indemnitee. In practice, this could be a general contractor taking responsibility for damages/injuries caused by subcontractors. In this case, if the subcontractors are explicitly negligent, their risk is passed onto the general contractor.

The immediate form of indemnity is a more restricted version of the broad form, but still relatively broad. The indemnitor assumes all responsibility unless the indemnitee is completely responsible. This means if the indemnitee is partially responsible, the indemnitor still assumes responsibility. In other words, immediate indemnity is “all or nothing.”

The third and most common indemnity clause is the comparative form, which follows common law principles by allocating responsibility to the party associated with the negligent act. The associated party has to be fully responsible for the negligent act, which can stir dispute among parties.

How can you deal with an indemnity clause?

As a property owner working with contractors, get familiar with your contract’s indemnity clause. Keep an eye on your project and look out for unforeseen circumstances. If an indemnity clause is invoked, negotiation or taking legal action on your own could turn a complicated situation into an even more complex tangle of accusations. Seek legal assistance from an experienced construction attorney who specializes in litigation.

Alves Radcliffe, LLP — Construction Attorney

If you need assistance with a construction law dispute regarding identity clauses, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.