It doesn’t matter if you’re the architect, the owner or the builder — nobody really wants a serious construction dispute to happen. Even a minor kerfuffle or two can slow a project down and ratchet up the costs of your project, so you definitely need to do everything in your power to avoid an actual lawsuit.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to spot the root causes of most construction disputes. They are:

  1. Not reading (or understanding) the contract. If you don’t carefully review a contract, how can you be sure that you’re following it? If you don’t understand your obligations under a contract, the odds are high that you’ll fail to meet them. These are avoidable mistakes.
  2. A failure to effectively communicate. You need to make sure that everybody involved in a project is on the same page. That also means keeping people up-to-date on changes as they occur. Make liberal use of software, apps, emails and text messages when you’re working out any issues so that you have a clear record of who was notified, what was said and other information.
  3. Not engaging in risk management. You can mitigate the potential for problems and address minor disputes before they fester — but only if you hold regular meetings. You also need to take other risk-management steps, like obtaining the proper insurance and engaging in safety training for your workers.
  4. Failing to plan for a problem. This might be part of risk management, but it deserves its own special number because it’s so important. Before you sign a contract, ask yourself, “What happens if things go wrong?” Make sure that the contract gives you a satisfactory answer.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you’ll be faced with a breach of contract claim or some other problem that can’t be easily settled. If that happens, find out how an experienced attorney can help you get back on track.