Communication is key to successful construction projects. It keeps clients informed of any delays and current progress while allowing for real-time feedback about how the project is going. This can possibly prevent legal action later, as all of the key stakeholders involved in the project are given ample opportunities to communicate early frustrations before they escalate.
Unfortunately, communication isn’t always easy in the construction business. There are times when a construction client becomes unresponsive and may require extra communication efforts to keep the project progressing at a steady pace. In this editorial, a Charlotte contractor attorney gives some insight into communication best practices as it relates to construction projects and what you can do to get your project on the right track.
A Lack of Communication Might Mean Anything
While an unresponsive client might be a big red flag that something is wrong with the project and the client isn’t satisfied, it also might not mean anything at all. Before construction companies start to believe in worst-case scenarios, it is important to recognize that sometimes an unresponsive client is busy or has other things going on that took their attention away from the project. This is why it is a good idea to try to communicate with them in a general way to see what is really going on.
If emails and phone calls do not solicit a response from your client, it is worth trying to schedule an in-person meeting as soon as possible to ensure that the project is still okay. If you can’t reach someone to schedule a meeting, you could go to the company’s physical location to try to communicate with them. In the event that you haven’t had any communication with your client in a long time, it is generally a best practice to do anything that you can to reconnect with them.
Ran Out of Funds
The worst-case scenario is that the client ran out of funding and is trying to ghost you without paying additional milestones. If this is the case, it is critical that you speak with your construction attorney as soon as possible to stop putting money into a project that may never be recovered. There are legal steps that your attorney can take to secure payment.
This could possibly be the case if a client becomes unresponsive and misses payments related to dates or completed milestones. This is not the most common cause of unresponsive clients, however, and should not be assumed without cause. You can speak with a Charlotte contractor lawyer if you have any concerns about unresponsiveness or missed client payments.
Sometimes a client will become unresponsive when they are not happy with your company’s work. This might be due to unexpected added costs, lack of communication, or what they perceive as poor workmanship. Dissatisfaction is often the precursor to legal action, so this is the category of unresponsive clients that you actually have the most control over in terms of what you can do to salvage a positive relationship with them.
First, it is always the best policy to be honest and transparent with your clients from the bid process to the final invoice. When you give someone a quote, bid, or estimate, be very clear on what it includes and what it does not. This way, there won’t be any surprises if an additional charge is required. Suppose a homeowner hires you to add an addition to their home using a carport and, in your quote, you assume that the homeowner will be able to use their carport’s roof and will not require any additional roofing to complete the job. Then, when it comes time to complete the project, you do end up needing to replace roofing, leading to a higher charge for the customer that they did not expect. If you let the customer know upfront before signing the contract some of the conditions of the quote, such as that this doesn’t include any roofing work that might need to be done, they won’t be as dissatisfied as if you sprung it on them after the fact.
Second, it is important to gather all available contact information that you can schedule regular check-ins with more than one project stakeholder. Sometimes one stakeholder is unhappy while the others don’t have any issues with the work. All of the stakeholders that have a say in the project should be kept in the loop about its progress. In addition, it can protect your client communication should your main contact leave the company or otherwise become unresponsive. Dealing with client communication is one aspect of construction projects that is necessary and sometimes difficult. If you keep thorough and honest communications with your clients on a regular basis, this can help to stave off potential misunderstandings. If an unresponsive client turns to legal action, you can always schedule an appointment with a Charlotte contractor lawyer from Cotney Construction Law.
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.