Ambiguity in construction contracts is something that all contractors should try to avoid. In fact, we strongly recommend that contractors spend a significant amount of time carefully drafting a detailed scope of work. Contractors should take the time to read over the other parties scope of work before agreeing to it, and to make sure to check that the other party’s scope of work is not ambiguous. If these steps are taken, it could prevent a future dispute over the scope of work. To view the second half of this article, please visit Part 2.
As Jacksonville construction lawyers, we are aware that if there is a scope of work dispute, the court will typically take a look at the contract, and see if there are any signs of ambiguity. If there is any sign of ambiguity in relation to the scope of work, the court has the power to determine whether or not the ambiguity is patent or latent.
In the case of patent ambiguity, it will clearly exist on the surface of the contract, and it’s based on defective or obscure language used in the contract.
On the other hand, latent ambiguity is not as apparent, but it becomes more visible when extrinsic and parol evidence is brought in that leads to the contract being interpreted.
How Does Ambiguity Happen?
Ambiguities can be common in construction contracts, and they typically result from a combination of things including:
- Change Orders
- General Conditions
- The Principal Agreement
Luckily, there are a few ways contractors can avoid ambiguity in construction contracts.
Make the Contract Clear and Concise
This is perhaps the easiest way to avoid ambiguities in contracts. When beginning to draft the contract, contractors must be clear and concise. Avoid filling the contract with complicated jargon or unknown terms. Keep the writing clear and straight to the point. By doing this, it will significantly decrease the redundancy and make it easier for both parties involved to understand. For help with writing a clear and concise contract, we suggest contacting a Jacksonville construction attorney. To view the rest of the ways, please visit Part 2 of this article.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.