Whether you are a novice or an experienced construction professional, the process of drafting and reviewing contracts can become complicated. Using a well-crafted contract can protect you from unexpected delays and can help ensure timely payment, all while providing a clear route to avoid conflict.
A contractor shouldn’t need a law degree to have iron-clad construction contracts. An Orlando construction law firm can draft and review construction contracts and provide the necessary guidance to construction professionals of all experience levels. There are several ways in which an attorney can assist you throughout the contract process, including contract drafting and providing a contract review checklist. Although an attorney will discuss these in depth, there are a few points to keep in mind during the contract process.
Before beginning a construction project, it is crucial that the terms and expectations of owners, contractors, and subcontractors be clearly defined by way of a legal contract. Utilizing a comprehensive contract will protect your assets and clearly define important details of your construction project, such as payment scheduling, the process for change order requests, subcontractor coordination, insurance obligations, licensing and other essential elements.
With extensive knowledge and experience working with professionals in the construction industry, an Orlando contractor attorney will mitigate risk, define how potential problems can be solved, and structure the relationship between all working parties before entering the job site.
Contract Review Checklist
If you are not drafting the contract and are instead relying on a contract provided by another party with interest in the project, it is especially important to have an attorney review the terms and conditions to ensure that your best interest is kept in mind and that you are not at risk of unexpected damages or other issues that may not be obvious.
The language that is often used in contracts can be difficult to understand, and the specified conditions may not fully protect the best interest of your business. With an experienced team of construction attorneys in place, you can be confident that all terms will work in the best interest of all parties, and potential issues will be addressed before the project begins. An Orlando contractor lawyer has the capabilities of negotiating the terms of the contract, should potential issues be identified.
This short checklist can serve as a reminder of what an attorney can address in any contract, whether your own or a contract provided by another party.
Scope of Work
Even the best-laid plans can lead to ruin. Scope creep is an unfortunate reality in this industry where delays and changes add up. Over time, a project can balloon to uncontrollable proportions, which is why it is so vital that scope is defined from the start. Our attorneys always strive to ensure that the scope of work is clearly defined in the contract and understand that material type, payment schedules, and the estimated completion date are all particulars that must be made clear.
As a contractor, one of your chief concerns is how you will be paid. Any construction contract you sign should clearly state not only how much you will be paid but also by when and through what method. All of these terms are negotiable, and an attorney can assist you in obtaining the payment schedule that suits your needs. Seemingly identical provisions, such as “pay when paid” and “pay if paid” clauses, can prove to have a drastic impact on payments when given a closer look.
Time and Materials
The contract should always include provisions for time and materials. This will ensure that untimely delays are kept to a minimum and can also ensure that the correct party is responsible for purchasing and providing materials. For example, if a subcontractor is responsible for providing materials, it should be made extremely clear in the contract.
Speaking to an experienced attorney with one of the best Orlando construction law firms can ensure that time and materials are properly accounted for, not only during the contract development phase but during and after production time as well.
Arbitration and Litigation
Before starting a construction project, it’s very important to define and agree on what could happen if there is a dispute. Often, parties will agree to arbitration rather than litigation during the contract process. Arbitration uses a third-party to settle disputes and functions similarly to litigation but may incur additional costs because both parties must pay for the arbitrator. It is important to agree ahead of time whether arbitration or litigation is preferred to settle any potential disputes. An attorney may also provide a provision for mediation prior to arbitration or litigation, which means that all parties will discuss potential settlements with a third-party mediator (which is different from a third-party arbitrator.)
No matter which method you choose, you should contact an attorney to discuss arbitration, litigation, mediation, or other methods to settle potential disputes. This discussion should occur prior to entering into any contract negotiations and will serve to prevent messy disputes and drawn-out court cases.
Cotney Construction Law’s experienced attorneys will provide sound legal advice to construction professionals at every level and can assist your firm with any construction need. Not only do we advise our clients on legal matters, but we also provide a myriad of other valuable services for construction businesses, including contract review, employment law advice, and litigation and arbitration services. We also advocate for clients involved in licensing complaints, permitting issues, stop-work orders, and more.
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.