How a Construction Attorney Can Hammer Out Your Contract Concerns - Alves Radcliffe

How a Construction Attorney Can Hammer Out Your Contract Concerns

Commercial and residential buildings are meant to last for decades. Their construction often requires months or even years of planning and execution. These projects involve several parties with diverse roles, including property owners, lenders, contractors, and subcontractors.

Construction contracts help manage these projects. They identify each party’s rights and responsibilities. They also allocate the risks associated with the construction project. There is no right or wrong way to handle these business decisions. However, a construction attorney can help you ensure the contract reflects the agreed-upon terms.

The Nuts and Bolts of Construction Contracts

Construction contracts cover many of the parties involved in a project, including:

  • Owners
  • Developers
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Lenders
  • Tenants
  • Construction managers
  • General contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers
  • Insurers

You will not find a one-size-fits-all construction contract that covers every situation. But all construction contracts should include certain terms, such as:

  • Project schedule
  • Payments
  • Scope of work
  • Permitting
  • Documentation requirements
  • Warranties
  • Dispute resolution
  • Change orders
  • Termination
  • Penalties

Other contract issues can arise when you litigate construction contracts. First, courts construe contract language using only the contents of the agreement. The “four corners” principle means a court usually cannot use outside evidence, such as emails or notes, to interpret the terms of the contract.

Second, courts typically avoid adding unwritten terms into a written agreement, even when those terms are customary in the industry. Judges assume you wrote your contract knowing what you did or did not want to include.

Meet Your Hero: The Construction Attorney

All lawyers learn contract principles in law school. However, a construction attorney has experience with other construction projects. As a result, the attorney will know:

  • The typical terms to include in a construction contract
  • How to craft creative solutions based on experience with other projects
  • The issues most likely to generate disputes and ways to address them

A construction lawyer can assist you in many ways. You can hire an attorney to negotiate and draft the contract. You can negotiate the contract and hire a lawyer to memorialize it in an enforceable written agreement. 

If you have an in-house legal department, you can hire a lawyer to advise your general counsel on construction law matters.

Hammering Out Contractual Concerns

Contractual concerns usually come in two forms. First, the contractual language may be unclear. The lawyer can work with the other parties to make the terms clear and complete.

The second contractual concern happens when you want to include or exclude a term, but the other parties refuse. The lawyer can hammer out this concern by negotiating with the other parties to try to get something in the agreement that protects you. The lawyer might even spot an issue that you missed.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis

Trying to deal with a contract without a lawyer has many risks, including the following:

  • Committing to an agreement you do not understand
  • Time and expense of litigating foreseeable disputes
  • A judgment against your business if you lose a lawsuit

The most important cost is that your attention will get pulled away from your business to focus on negotiating, drafting, and litigating construction contracts.

The benefit is the peace of mind of knowing that your concerns about your construction contracts have been resolved. As a result, you can focus on your business rather than your contracts.

Choosing the Right Construction Attorney

Experience is the most important factor in choosing any kind of lawyer. When picking a construction lawyer, look for someone who has previously drafted and litigated construction contracts. They should understand various types of construction contracts and how to draft them.

The lawyer will use this experience to identify potential problems and resolve them early. They can also free up your time by taking over the burden of negotiating and drafting a fair and clear construction contract.

The Contract Help You Need

Even a simple construction project requires solid construction contracts to manage everyone’s legal obligations. Contact Alves Radcliffe to discuss your project and how we can help you resolve your contract concerns.

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