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Strategies to Avoid Construction Arbitration

Arbitration is one of the easier methods for resolving construction disputes, but construction companies still want to avoid arbitration altogether, if possible. This is because the process itself can take months and lead to problems, even in the best of projects. Prevention is the best method for avoiding arbitration and other disputes throughout construction projects. In this article, one of our Houston construction attorneys discusses strategies to avoid construction arbitration.

Related: What Construction Businesses Need to Know About Using Arbitration as a Method of Dispute Resolution

Adhere to the Contract

Perhaps the best way to avoid construction arbitration is to avoid disputes. This is possible by adhering strictly to the contract that you signed. Most disputes arise when one of the involved parties feels that the contract is not being fulfilled. Whether this is true or not, your construction company can find itself in court in the middle of an arbitration process. To prevent this, adhere strictly to the contract so that there is little reason for any of the other parties involved to raise a dispute.

Where many construction companies get into trouble with contracts is when they do not understand the contract that they signed. Contracts can be complicated, which is why companies should always have one of our Houston construction dispute lawyers review the contract before signing it. Once you sign a contract, you agree to abide by everything that is in it without exception. Not understanding part of the contract is no excuse for violating it.

Review all new contracts thoroughly to make sure that your company can abide by all of the parts of the contract, and take steps to make sure that everyone involved understands their responsibilities and obligations. Then, put systems in place to ensure that everyone does what they need to do. The more diligent you are about enforcing the contract within your own operations, the less likely there is to be a violation that can lead to a dispute and arbitration.

Improve the Planning Process

More often than signing a contract that cannot be fulfilled, construction companies fail to effectively plan construction projects before developing and signing a contract. The planning process is not only essential for the construction project itself but also for the other operations of the business. Failing to plan effectively will make the project unprofitable and hurt your business in the long run. To avoid issues with unrealistic project guidelines, it’s important for construction companies to find ways to improve the planning process.

There are many steps to go into the planning process, including determining construction costs, organizing operations, and bidding projects. Implementing an audit process to review each of these steps and look for ways of improving them can be an effective strategy for improving the planning process. The more problems you can eliminate in the planning process, the better the outcome for each project can be.

Related: Common Questions About Construction Arbitration

Be Ambitious But Not Too Ambitious About Projects

One aspect of improving the planning process that needs special attention is setting goals for projects. Construction companies tend to try to outbid each other by reducing costs and completion time, among other factors. While this can be an effective way to bid on a project, it can often lead to unrealistic goals. Once the goals for a project become unrealistic, it can be very difficult to correct those goals in the minds of the project owner. Your company could quickly find itself in a position where it negotiated a contract that it cannot adhere to because the goals for the project are too ambitious.

When this happens, it’s difficult to manage the project without consistent problems and will likely cost more to complete the project since timelines and other factors cannot be adhered to. Preventing this problem is often the only method of solving it, which is why construction managers should take a long and thorough look at how their company develops its project goals. Otherwise, a construction company can find itself in a position where it needs the assistance of a Houston construction arbitration attorney to resolve the dispute.

Discuss Potential Problems Ahead of Time

Controlling internal processes can lead to an effective change in how the company negotiates contracts, but those negotiations involve other companies that may not have the same view of construction projects. Because of this, it’s likely that, although your company avoids creating problems in the contract, the other company may suggest parameters that lead to problems. The best way to deal with this is to discuss potential problems ahead of time.

During the negotiation process, everyone involved should discuss potential problems and look for solutions. Being proactive about these issues is an effective way to mitigate their impact. This is especially important when one of the parties is trying to negotiate a position that will create significant problems for the other parties. This is the time to speak up and try to head off the problem before it becomes an issue. Otherwise, it will be too late once the contract is signed.

Related: The Arbitration Process and the Construction Industry

Work Together to Find Solutions

While it may not be possible to prevent disputes in construction projects entirely, it may be possible to avoid arbitration by working together to find solutions to problems as they arise. Arbitration is reserved for trying to resolve problems where both sides cannot seem to agree on a solution. In essence, arbitration forces a resolution to the problem rather than having the two sides negotiate and try to find a solution. It is possible, however, to avoid arbitration altogether if both sides can work together to find solutions before they feel that arbitration is needed.

Construction contracts are complicated, which is why many construction companies rely on Houston construction law attorneys to resolve issues before they become problems. Arbitration can be an effective method, but its impact on projects can be avoided by taking simple steps to address problems as they arise. If you have questions about construction arbitration, contact one of the Houston construction attorneys.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction law attorneys, please contact us today.

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.

Construction disputes happen when one of the parties involved in a project files a complaint with the other parties because it feels that the contract is not being followed as they agreed to it. Any party involved in a project has the ability to raise a dispute, and disputes can be raised for a wide variety of reasons. When this happens, the parties involved need to resolve the dispute through a method of resolution, whether that’s arbitration, legal action, or another solution. In this article, a Houston contractor lawyer helps you understand the most common reasons for construction disputes.

Errors and Omissions

Common problems in a construction contract that can lead to a dispute are errors and omissions. Negotiating a contract is a complex process, and it’s not uncommon for parts of the contract to be worded incorrectly or entire clauses to be left out entirely. This can create serious problems for the company involved because it interferes with how the contract is able to protect those companies.

There are several ways to address errors and omissions in contracts, but the most effective method is to prevent them in the first place. This can be accomplished by putting in the effort to develop the contract to ensure that it is accurate and provides the protections you need. To make this process more effective, many construction companies turn to Houston construction lawyers to help them write their contracts. There are also many free options online developed by lawyers to help construction companies improve the overall quality of their contracts.

Related: Avoid Construction Contract Errors With These 4 Tips

Differing Site Conditions

Another common type of problem that leads to disputes is differing site conditions (DSC). Before a construction project begins, the construction company or the site owner completes detailed surveys of the area that are then used to plan the rest of the construction project. These surveys focus on more than just what is visible to the naked eye. Many companies do deep ground surveys to understand what potential obstacles could pop up as they begin to dig deeper into the ground.

While the effort put into the service is extensive, they don’t find everything all of the time. Once the project begins, differences in conditions on the site that slows down production, such as groundwater at the wrong depth or hard bedrock, can have a significant impact on the rest of the project.

When DSC is discovered, it usually leads to a dispute over who is responsible for the additional costs in fixing the problem. The site owner or the construction company can be held liable for this depending on what they agreed to in the contract. There is almost always going to be disagreement over whether DSC falls under the differing conditions clause in the contract or not. This is where many disputes arise as construction companies face penalties for problems that slow down the construction process for reasons that are out of their control.

Related: Minimize Additional Costs From Differing Site Conditions With This Contract Language

Non-Compliance

Perhaps more than anything else, non-compliance with the contract will lead to a dispute. Non-compliance disputes can become serious problems for construction projects since they can ultimately lead to legal action that can bring a project to a halt. Non-compliance disputes are filed when one company in the contract feels that the other company in the contract is violating the contract in some way. When this happens, a dispute is almost inevitable. 

Contract compliance is one of the main focuses of construction management teams. Their job is to make sure that the company is working in a way that meets its agreements. Otherwise, failure to adhere to the contract means that the legal protections in the contract can be used. Not only can a company find itself having to marshal resources to bring operations back in compliance, but it can also face fines and other legal actions for violating its agreements.

Anytime there is a non-compliance dispute, it’s important for all companies involved to have legal representation in place. Hiring a Houston construction lawyer, for example, ensures that you have someone with legal expertise and the ability to guide your company in the right direction working on your case. Lawyers can also help you understand what actions could violate a contract and help your company avoid issues. 

Related: Simple Tips to Increase Contract Enforceability

Work Quality

Finally, the quality of construction work can lead to disputes, specifically when the work does not meet the agreed-upon standards. Contractors face a serious problem when it comes to accountability for the work that is done on construction projects. Essentially, the contractor is held responsible for all work to be performed on the project, including hiring subcontractors and overseeing all the work that they do. When a contractor feels that the subcontractor did not perform satisfactory work, it can lead to a dispute which needs to be handled as soon as possible.

The simplest way to avoid work quality disputes is to set performance standards before the work starts and to assess the work at different stages to make sure it is being done well. Catching a work quality problem early on means that you can take action to fix it before it turns into a dispute. Work quality disputes that are not handled promptly often turn into legal issues and potential interruptions to the overall project.

Construction contract disputes happen regularly, but they are often resolved before they become serious problems. No construction company wants to deal with legal issues and interruptions to their projects. Instead, construction companies rely on the help of lawyers to find ways that they can avoid the common problems that lead to disputes. If you have any questions about construction contracts, disputes, or how to resolve them, contact a Houston contractor attorney.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

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.

When choosing a law firm, people tend to worry about the size of that firm. Everyone has heard stories about large firms crushing smaller firms in court, but also stories about small firms triumphing over larger ones. This can make it a bit confusing to determine what size law firm you need to represent you, or if it even matters how big the law firm is. In this article, a Houston contractor attorney discusses the differences between a small and large law firm and which one you should choose to represent you in your construction law case. 

Who Works On Your Case

When you hire a Houston contractor lawyer to represent you, you will have at least one lawyer working on your case with a team of associates assisting that provide specialized skills. This is true in large and small law firms. The number of people that work your case is kept small to make it easier to manage so that the firm can allocate its resources to your case effectively. 

Why Size Matters

The size of the law firm may matter depending on your needs and the specific details of your case. The vast majority of cases can be handled by a single Houston construction lawyer with a small support team. However, in cases that involve larger entities, higher dollar value contracts, or federal contracts, a larger legal team of construction lawyers in Houston who are skilled and experienced with matters like yours is critical for the best outcome.

In either scenario, you want to make sure that you are choosing a firm that is the right size for you, has experience in representing cases such as yours, has a reputation for success, and is able to provide the legal counsel needed to guide you through the complexities of construction law. Failing to do so can have a negative and detrimental impact on your case.

The most important thing is that you believe that the firm that you choose is right for your needs. If you have questions about how to choose a law firm, contact a Houston contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

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.

In the construction industry, settling disputes is common practice. Because of this and every company’s desire to avoid lawsuits, arbitration, also known as alternative dispute resolution, has become a popular way of mitigating disputes. It is likely that you will find a clause in some of your contracts regarding arbitration or mediation. 

If you are unfamiliar with the arbitration process, it is a streamlined process where two parties meet before a third-party mediator to try to in an attempt to resolve the conflict outside of the court system. Instead of a judge, there is a neutral party who can rule on the decision for the arbitration. It avoids the need for lengthy and expensive lawsuits while still getting both parties a final, legally-binding decision. In this article, a Houston construction arbitration attorney discusses a few best practices to implement when working on commercial construction cases.

Choose a Single Arbitrator

Unlike lawsuits, the parties involved in the contract get to choose the arbitrator for the case. In some states, both parties work together to choose an arbitrator while other states have state-appointed arbitrators that can be assigned to your case. Choosing an arbitrator may be easier with the assistance of Houston construction law attorneys who can help you vet him or her and ensure there are no conflicts of interest.

If you are trying to choose an arbitrator for your case, it is important that you focus on picking an experienced, professional to overhear the case. There are cases where a panel of arbitrators may be necessary, but these are often extremely expensive and very complex cases to deal with. The vast majority of arbitration cases only need one arbitrator to be successful.

Before you make a decision, thoroughly review the arbitrator’s background and credentials. You want to make sure that they are a neutral third party that has no affiliation with either party in the case or has any bias in one way or another. That way, you will get the best decision possible without it being influenced by either party.

Try To Work It Out First

Before you get to the arbitration process, perhaps the best thing you can do is try to work out the issue with the other party first. Many disputes can be solved if both parties agree to come together, set aside their differences, and discuss their options. Doing so could help you avoid an expensive arbitration or legal process.

Set Specific Rules in Your Contracts

At the beginning of the arbitration process, it is important to sit down with the other party and work out the rules of the arbitration. Like lawsuits, there are many procedural tasks that can happen that can make the process overly complicated and time-consuming. 

If you are unfamiliar with arbitration contracts, contact the Houston construction attorneys of Cotney Law for assistance developing arbitration rules that will govern this procedure.

Keep the Process Simple

To avoid problems during the arbitration process, do everything you can to keep the arbitration process simple. It can get complicated because of legal motions and actions that can be taken during the process. This will help all parties avoid confusion, frustration, and time.

Move Quickly and Carefully

Once you have the arbitration scheduled and all involved parties agree to participate, it is time to start preparing for the process. You want to move quickly so that the arbitration process does not drag on for a long time. It could create problems for your construction projects and your business to have a lengthy arbitration lingering. A common milestone is to have the arbitration scheduled for six months into the future, but no later than 12 months. Do what you can to meet this deadline while still building a strong case.

Although you want to prepare quickly so that you can get the arbitration underway as soon as possible, it is important to take the time that you need to build a solid case and include the details that you need to be able to defend your position.

Arbitrations can be an effective way of resolving disputes in the construction industry. If you follow these best practices, you can make the process much easier on yourself and still present a strong defense for your position. If you have any questions about arbitration or arbitration best practices, contact a Houston construction arbitration attorney from Cotney Law.

If you would like to speak with Houston construction dispute lawyers, please contact us today.

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.

When working in the construction industry, there are many laws that you have to have basic knowledge of in order to avoid specific problems. One problem that construction companies face often is the intersection of construction law and real estate law. From a cursory glance, these two law groups may seem interchangeable. However, they are both very distinct and different areas of law that can apply to the construction industry.

Confusing construction law and real estate law can lead to serious issues later in your business’ operations. This is why it is crucial to have an understanding of the laws that impact your company. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a legal dispute that you may not be able to win. For a legal ally who can help you grasp a better understanding of the differences between real estate law and construction law and which laws impact your construction business, consult a Houston construction arbitration attorney with Cotney Construction Law. 

Reated: Advice for Construction Firms Involved in a Dispute

Real Estate Law

Construction companies interact with real estate law before and after a construction project as real estate law deals with the sale of land and the property on it. At the beginning of a construction project, a developer needs to acquire land from the government. It buys the land, which includes any improvements or resources that are on it. Then, the construction company begins to work. In some cases, construction companies act as the developer and purchase the land, making them responsible for operations that fall firmly under real estate law.

At the end of projects, construction companies have to make sure that the work that they did was acceptable. If not, it could affect the sale of the property. There are mechanisms in real estate and construction law that can impact the completion of a project. In this case, it also impacts the potential sale or use of the property due to legal reasons. 

Liens are a good example of how this can happen. A lien can stop the sale of a property once it has been completed. Construction companies may also be involved in the sale of properties if defects or other problems are found. Depending on how they are involved, real estate law may apply to actions that the construction company must take to fix the problems that they caused. Ultimately, it may be the construction company’s responsibility to handle any of the legal processes and problems that arise from its work or any related issues during the process. 

Construction Law

Construction law deals more with the development of land and the development of buildings on that land. It is different from real estate law in that it deals specifically with the construction process rather than what is done with the land and property before and after the construction process. 

Construction law is complicated and multifaceted. It has laws from many different industries, which makes it hard to navigate. Companies often focus only on the laws that apply for what they are trying to do. Many companies also work with Houston construction attorneys to ensure that they stay compliant with the appropriate laws. 

Construction law is different in each state. There are federal laws that address construction, but the majority of laws are made by the states. Because of this, it is advisable to have Houston construction law attorneys or another legal person in the state where you work help you address the construction laws for that state. 

Related: 4 Causes of Construction Disputes

Overlap

In some cases, real estate law and construction law can overlap and make it a bit more confusing for construction companies to know which laws apply. Liens are a good example of this. If a lien is placed on a property, then both construction laws and real estate laws can apply. The property cannot be sold until the lien is handled (real estate law), and the construction company is liable for handling it (construction law). You may then have to hire Houston construction dispute lawyers to resolve your case. 

Defects are a similar problem where construction laws and real estate laws can both apply. This is why many companies have lawyers on staff or on retainer to help them navigate the problems with differing legal areas. It can make a major difference in the impact that different laws have on your projects. 

Working Within the Laws

Construction projects are always subject to a long list of laws and regulations that can impact how they turn out. What may seem like a minor regulation can have a major impact on how construction moves forward. For construction companies, it’s imperative that they have a firm understanding of the law and how to work within the laws. Otherwise, construction projects could be shut down, or the company may face legal action later on. 

One of the best ways that your construction company can protect itself is to partner with a lawyer that knows construction and real estate law. Depending on the work that your company does, it may be involved in both legal areas. Before you dive into a project that requires a specific type of law knowledge, consult a lawyer to build the team that you need to make sure that your project runs smoothly. 

Real estate law and construction law are both important parts of how a construction company operates. By learning about and preparing for situations where either type of law experience is needed, your company is in a better position to avoid unnecessary risks. If you have questions about real estate or construction law, contact a Houston construction arbitration attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with a Houston construction arbitration attorney, please contact us today.

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.

Every construction project involves legal work that you are required to complete. Construction companies must be well-versed in the type of legal work that needs to be done to finish a project. Failing to meet the guidelines could result in serious problems, such as projects being stopped or the final work being restricted until the legal work is complete. If you need any assistance navigating the unique laws that apply to the construction industry, including retainage, mechanic’s lien, and prompt payment laws, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Houston contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

Permits

One of the earliest legal processes that need to be completed is the acquisition of permits. Contractors need work permits to complete specific stages of a project. For example, all electrical work must be permitted prior to the start of the work. Permits are designed to create a checks and balance system. That way, every contractor that does work in an area has their work reviewed to avoid problems because of faulty construction. 

Related: An Overview Of Building Permits

Inspections

Inspections are also a part of the legal process and are mandated for many parts of projects. Inspections often happen right after a specific part of the construction project is finished. That way, the inspector can get a good look at the work before moving on to the next phase of construction. Failing to complete an inspection can stop your project in a second and force you to redo a lot of work so that the inspector can see what he or she needs to see. Inspections happen throughout the project, so it is important to know when and what needs to be inspected. 

Contract Negotiations

Contract negotiations are one of the earliest legal processes in a construction project, although contracts can be negotiated throughout. Before any work is done, there should be a signed contract detailing the work and other important terms. 

Construction companies must take contract negotiations seriously since they can impact the rest of the project. Contracts determine who is paid, how much they are paid, when they are paid, what work must be done, and (most importantly) how contract disputes are handled. Setting up good terms early in the process can alleviate a lot of problems later. This is why many companies rely on Houston construction lawyers to help them write their contracts.

New contracts are added throughout construction projects as new subcontractors are added to the team. Each subcontractor needs a contract for the same reasons that a contractor does. There are also cases where contracts need to be amended. How you handle this process is just as important as how you negotiated the initial contract. 

Related: Practical Contract Negotiation Advice for Construction Contractors

Employee Processes

Some of the legal work for a construction project is internal. Worker’s compensation programs, OSHA safety regulations, and other internal programs are essential to keeping a construction company running without problems. In some cases, your company is legally mandated to have these programs in place. Failing to do so can lead to a lot of fines and other problems. 

In another context, you want to have these programs in place because they make employees happier and safer. Much of the internal legal work focuses on managing employees. Payroll, hiring, training, maintaining safety equipment, and other actions are all things that employees want in their companies. By focusing on improving your internal legal operations, you may be able to improve your relationship with your employees. 

Liens and Defects 

Construction projects can experience legal problems even after they are finished. Liens and defects can require legal work to resolve, and they cannot be ignored or left without being handled. Liens are particularly troublesome since they can affect the end of a project in a major way. The property may not be used or sold until the lien is addressed. 

Defects can create a problem with liability. Construction companies can be held liable for construction defects long after the project has been completed. Unless you have a solid contract that addresses defects, you may be required to spend more time and effort trying to deal with a defect than you may normally have to. 

Related: 5 Tips for Avoiding Construction Defect Litigation

Legal Defense Processes

Perhaps the most noteworthy of the construction legal processes is the legal defense process. There are times where a construction company needs legal assistance in dealing with a problem. Companies can face legal issues for a variety of reasons. Liens, for example, can create a lot of problems until they are resolved. OSHA violations are the same way.

Dealing with regulations can be especially troublesome. OSHA and other regulatory agencies may charge your company a violation, which may impact how your company operates in the future. There are cases where you may even lose your license. Taking legal action may be the only way that you can stop this from happening. Having a Houston contractor lawyer to represent you when legal problems arise can help you protect your company. There are many instances where this is possible. For example, you can file appeals with OSHA, which may help you get rid of the violation that you were charged with. A Houston construction lawyer can also fight to help you keep your license. 

There are many types of legal work that need to be done in a construction project. Your project managers are responsible for making sure that all of this legal work is completed in a timely and appropriate manner. If you have questions about the legal work that your construction project requires, contact a Houston contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

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.

COVID-19 has forced major changes in the construction industry since being close to other people has become a problem. This is especially true for resolving disputes since the resolution process often requires meetings between multiple parties. This is no longer possible most of the time since quarantine and social distancing measures keep people apart for the sake of their health. Fortunately, we have the technology and resources to find new ways of adjusting to the world that COVID-19 has created. In this editorial, we’ll discuss tips for handling construction disputes during COVID-19 with the help of a Houston contractor attorney.

Related: The Importance of Documenting Project Delays and Damages Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Accept Virtual Meetings

One of the most significant changes in the construction industry since the introduction of COVID-19 is that meeting in person is not an option in most cases. It can be risky to meet with other parties in person since there is a significant chance of spreading the virus. However, we live in a day and age where the technology to have virtual meetings is widely available.

If you need to resolve the dispute, you’ll likely need to meet with another party. To do this, accept virtual meetings. Meeting online removes much of the risk while still letting you resolve disputes using the established process. Houston construction lawyers can facilitate virtual meetings so that they can continue to do work as normal.

The idea of having to rely on technology to conduct meetings may not sit well with everyone. Many people, especially in the construction industry, prefer to stick to traditional methods of handling problems. However, virtual meetings are largely the same as in-person. The only difference is that you need to use specific types of technology to communicate. In essence, it’s no different than trying to have a phone call with multiple parties to resolve the problem.

Related: The Future of Videoconferencing in Construction

Negotiate Terms

The interruption to businesses around the world is making it difficult for companies to stay afloat. If you need to handle a dispute, keep in mind that every company is struggling. This may mean that you may not be able to achieve everything you want when resolving the dispute. Instead of relying on legal action, consider negotiating terms to resolve conflicts.

A Houston contractor lawyer often resolves disputes by negotiating terms. The negotiation process gives everyone involved the chance to be heard and make it clear what they are trying to achieve. If you can successfully balance your needs with the needs of the other party, you may be able to negotiate a settlement that resolves the issue. This would eliminate the need for legal action while helping preserve the relationship with your business partner.

Negotiating terms can be difficult and take an extended period of time to finish. Each party has their own wants and needs, and their concerns need to be addressed so that you all may agree to the terms. Negotiation may be the best option in most cases. Taking legal action is expensive and can alienate subcontractors. If this happens, it also can impact how your business functions in the future.

Related: Resolving Disputes: Negotiations

Be Kind

Under normal conditions, resolving disputes can be stressful. This is especially true under the conditions created by COVID-19. Because of this, it is important to make sure that you are paying special attention to how you react to the other party in your dispute.

Your ability to resolve the dispute without legal action or dissolving the relationship between the parties depends on your ability to positively influence the situation. Everyone is excessively stressed out because of business issues and from trying to resolve your dispute. Being kind to everyone involved will project a level of professionalism while making it harder for the other party to be aggressive or unkind in response.

Houston construction lawyers often use this method to try to smooth out relationships between parties. You can, essentially, ensure that you can resolve the dispute amicably by creating a more positive and sensitive response to the situation. The other party will be more willing to work with you to find a solution if they see you trying to make the situation less stressful.

Follow Procedures

While COVID-19 has forced us to make many changes in the construction industry, it is still important to adhere to procedures. There are specific procedures for handling disputes, and it is in your best interest to follow them. Many of the procedures designed for handling disputes also call for documentation and attempts to resolve problems before legal action is taken. This usually produces the best results for everyone.

Failing to follow established procedures can lead you into bigger problems. For example, not filing the appropriate paperwork for getting things done on schedule can lead to expensive legal actions. It can also create an argument against your opinion of the dispute.

When a dispute arises, have your staff coordinate with each other to find ways of resolving the dispute and discuss your case with a lawyer before taking action so that you can make sure you are taking the right steps and can avoid many of the problems that can develop later.

Handling disputes is difficult under the best of circumstances, but there are many more restrictions to worry about now. Since COVID-19 has changed how people can interact with each other, it is important that you take steps to improve the way you handle this. If you have questions about the different methods to resolve disputes, contact a Houston construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction lawyers, please contact us today.

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.

Construction arbitration can happen between any two parties, even if they have an amicable relationship. Often, disputes arise as a result of a simple disagreement about work performed or materials provided and can be easily resolved without ever seriously comprising the relationship between the opposing parties. 

If you find yourself in a situation where arbitration seems to be the only option, there are ways to manage arbitration so that you can maintain relationships with their company. Contacting a Houston construction arbitration attorney from Cotney Construction Law will ultimately prove crucial to maintaining positive professional relationships between parties during the process of arbitration.

Related: Should I Resolve My Dispute By Arbitration?

Find Common Ground

In arbitration, the first step that you should take is to find common ground with the other party. Relationships are built on mutual experience and trust between both parties. In this case, you can use common ground to try to find a better solution for both parties.

Working in construction, your company likely has a lot in common with other construction companies. Use this position in your argument to help the other party see where you are coming from. You may find that much of the disagreement has to do with ineffective communication between the two groups.

You can use your common ground related to the project that you are working on as a basis for your position. Draw on this to reference specific issues in common experiences so that you can relate your side of the argument to either party more effectively. Once the other party can understand your point of view, there is a better chance that both sides will be able to agree on specific issues.

Act Professionally and Be Kind

Movies depict lawyers as being aggressive and ill-tempered when trying to handle negotiations. Any one of our professional Houston construction attorneys will immediately tell you that this is the opposite of what you should do. If you want to maintain a relationship or to be able to have successful negotiations, the keys are to act professionally and be kind to the other party. 

Being aggressive, unnecessarily argumentative, or otherwise unlikable will make it harder for the other party to compromise with you. It will quickly reduce your chances of maintaining a relationship with the other party has a significant and well-proven reason to not like you.

Just because you should be kind to the other party does not mean that the other party will look down on you in any way. Instead, it will actually make you appear more agreeable and make the other party more likely to want to work with you. Acting with professionalism during the arbitration process shows that you are serious about maintaining your point of view on the situation, but you place more value on the relationship with the other party than you do on just proving that you are right. At the end of the arbitration process, the other party will be more likely to want to keep the relationship going, and you will not have provided a personal reason for them to avoid working with you in the future.

Related: What are the Benefits of Arbitration? 

Be Open-Minded

When you go into any type of negotiation or arbitration, it is important to be open-minded. Although you have your own point of view on the situation, you should try to understand how the other party views it, too. You may be surprised at how they see the situation, especially if they provide evidence to back up their claims that can change your point of view.

Being open-minded also means being willing to compromise. In the end, the relationship with the other party may be more important than whatever dispute you are trying to resolve an arbitration. This is especially true if the other company provides a service that is hard to find anywhere else. It could impact your future work if you are no longer able to work with that subcontractor.

Be attentive and willing to discuss different points of view during the arbitration. Nothing kills a relationship faster than the feeling that you are not being listened to by the other party. Do not give the other party the feeling that you are not listening because regardless of how the arbitration ends, they are likely to think that you do not take them seriously.

Try Other Options First

Arbitration is usually the final step in resolving the dispute since it can be a legally binding process. It essentially ends the discussion about a dispute with few options for recourse afterward. The decisions are also legally enforceable, meaning that you can take legal action to force the other party to abide by the terms of the arbitration. Because of this, it needs to be the last option in resolving it.

You should try other options before returning to arbitration. If you jump straight to arbitration, you will likely leave the other party aggravated and unwilling to work with you. Instead, try one of the other options that are more of a discussion and gives the other party a chance to resolve the issue without taking legal action.

For example, the first step in resolving a dispute should be to talk to the other party. Once the dispute is introduced, bring together all of the involved party representatives so that you can sit down and discuss the problem. This is a very low-stress way of handling the situation since legal action is not necessary, and you have a better chance of coming to compromise. Willing compromises are almost always better than forced actions like the decision of arbitration.

If an open discussion about the dispute does not produce results, you can begin to involve Houston construction law attorneys to help you find a solution. This could include negotiation to try to find an amicable solution to the problem. You can also have your lawyer send a notice of intent to file legal action to the other party. If you take the step, be sure that the dispute is worth risking the relationship. 

Once legal action is taken, you must be careful to maintain a relationship. Otherwise, that relationship will not work. Your notice of intent should also fully explain your point of view on the dispute and identify what steps are next. Avoid making accusations when blaming the other party, and focus on how you can work together to find solutions.

Arbitration can be an effective way to end a dispute, but you risk ruining the relationship with the other party. Take care not to alienate the other party for your actions so that you can work together later. If you have questions about arbitration or maintaining business relationships, contact Houston construction dispute lawyers from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction attorneys, please contact us today.

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.

Construction liens and contractor non-payment issues can be a serious problem for construction projects. Having a lien placed on a property can ruin a relationship with a subcontractor or contractor. It can also lead to the end of a relationship between a contractor and a property owner, affecting any future work that may be available. No one wants to place a lien on a property. However, it becomes necessary if subcontractors are not paid for the work that they do. For a legal advocate who can help you file a lien against a property owner to collect your debt before you miss a deadline, contact a Houston construction lien lawyer

Avoiding liens is as simple as making sure that subcontractors are paid on time. Most liens are filed by subcontractors that tried other methods of seeking payment with no success. As a contractor or property owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone on the job is paid. There are several steps that you can do to facilitate that and avoid having a lien placed on a project. In this article, we’ll discuss construction liens and contractor non-payment issues.

Related: An Overview of Texas Mechanic’s Lien Law

What is a Construction Lien?

A construction lien is a legal method of forcing a contractor or property owner to resolve payment issues. Unlike other businesses where the product can be repossessed, subcontractors and contractors cannot repossess materials or other items of value once the work has been done. Without liens, property owners could avoid paying subcontractors for their work. A lien is also a legal alternative to filing a lawsuit, which can be costly for everyone. Houston contractor lawyers often help construction companies handle liens in Texas, which may require legal assistance to properly file or remove from a property.

When a subcontractor files a lien against the property, that lien remains attached to that property until it is resolved. Depending on where the property is, this gives the subcontractor different methods for collecting payment for the work. In some places, that property may not be used for its intended purpose. In other places, a property can be repossessed in order to cover the payments subcontractor. Regardless of what the method is, a construction lien can lead to serious issues for the property owner.

You can reduce your chances of dealing with a construction lien by taking simple steps in the beginning and throughout a project to ensure that everyone is paid for the work that they do. Many of these steps include detailed records-keeping to ensure that invoices are processed properly. You can also ask a Houston construction lien attorney about different ways of handling liens. They are often asked for assistance when trying to file or resolve a lien or payment issue. 


Related: Can I File a Mechanic’s Lien Against a Leased Property?

Notice of Commencement

One of the problems that property owners and subcontractors face is that they rarely interact with each other if there is a general contractor on the project. The general contractor hires subcontractors, and the property owner deals directly with the general contractor. This means that the subcontractor, who is most likely to file the lien, is unknown to the property owner. Furthermore, the property owner does not have copies of invoices or payment records since that is the general contractor’s job. To fix this, some states require the use of Notices of Commencement.

A Notice of Commencement is a notification sent to the property owner by a subcontractor informing them that the subcontractor was hired to do work on the project, details of the contracted work, and payment details. The notice should be sent before work on the project begins. The property owner can keep this information for later reference when a subcontractor files a construction lien. This way, all the parties involved in the projects are notified of the work that is about to be done, and the property owner can follow up with the contractor to make sure that any subcontractor that sent a Notice of Commencement is paid. When you reach out to one of our Houston construction lien lawyers, we’ll assess your situation and help you meet the appropriate notice deadlines.  

Related: Texas Retainage Laws and What They Mean for Your Mechanic’s Lien

Invoicing

Properly managing invoices is another way to avoid a construction lien at the end of a project. Invoices are essential to get paid on a project. If they are not properly managed, you’re sure to have payment issues. 

One of the big issues with invoicing is contractors and subcontractors not turning in invoices on time. Contracts generally established payment terms for when invoices must be submitted. Missing the deadline can create issues with getting paid on time. It also creates issues with getting paid at all since invoices are generally processed in batches from the date that they were submitted. If your invoice is late, it may not be processed until the next batch is done. This commonly leads to issues making sure that older invoices are added to later processing batches.

Lien Waivers

The construction lien waiver is a document that waives your right to file a lien in response to non-payment for a specific invoice. Many contractors and subcontractors use them as an incentive to receive payment on time and to be chosen for work by a contractor or property owner. By offering the construction lien waiver, it gives the contractor or property owner added security and peace of mind. As a result, they are more likely to pay invoices on time and ensure that those invoices are paid in full.

The construction lien waiver also serves a purpose in record keeping. It outlines the details of the payment that the waiver is for. For contractors, this is proof that the invoice was paid, which can be helpful when resolving payment issues later in the project. It is important to only offer a construction lien waiver after payment was received as it can be used against you if the contractor or the property owner fails to pay you according to your invoice. 

Placing a lien on a property is a problem for everyone involved, which is why it is the option of last resort. However, not being paid for completed work can create major problems when trying to run a business or earn a living. The best way to protect yourself and your business from liens and payment problems is to have a better understanding of how payment works in construction contracts. If you have questions about liens, invoices, construction contracts, and payment issues, contact Houston contractor attorneys from Cotney Law.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction lien attorneys, please contact us today.

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.

Arbitration is one of the ways that construction companies resolve disputes without going to court. In many ways, it is similar to adjudication. However, it has a distinct difference that makes it useful in specific situations. Many companies choose it for its cost-effective conflict resolution system so that they can avoid costly and difficult lawsuits. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of construction arbitration. If you want to resolve your dispute in a cost-effective and timely manner, it’s time to speak with a Houston construction arbitration attorney

Related: Dispelling the Myths of Arbitration 

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a way to resolve disputes with the assistance of a third-party. Essentially, the third party serves as the judge in the case and listens to both points of view. The arbitrator makes the final decision as to how to handle the dispute. In most cases, the decision of the arbitrator is legally binding and final.

The result of arbitration differs from court trials in that the final decision is not binary. It is not a decision of which side prevails over the other but instead acts as a decision to do what is best for both parties. The arbitrator has some leeway determining what the best outcome is based on the evidence. You may not leave the arbitration with everything that you wanted, but there may be a solid compromise in place so that both parties benefit and lose to varying degrees.


Related: What To Expect During Arbitration

Arbitration vs. Adjudication

Arbitration and adjudication follow a similar process. However, the key difference is in the person that is judging the dispute. In adjudication, the adjudicator is a third-party selected by the two parties in the case. In an arbitration, the arbitrator is entirely independent of the two parties. This makes the decision more independent of the needs and influence of the parties involved in the case.

Arbitration and adjudication are often used to resolve construction disputes. Which one you use depends on a few factors. The most important factor is the relationship between the parties involved. If the two parties can agree on a person to judge the case, adjudication may be a better option. It offers more flexibility to resolve the case and appeal a decision if there is a possible problem in the case on legal grounds. Arbitration is not as flexible, and the decision is final.

Arbitration is a better option in cases where the decision needs to be final, as in cases where the decision can hold up work on the project. It is also a more preferable option if the two parties are closely related. Having an impartial third-party will make it easier to get an unbiased decision. 

Why Choose Arbitration

Arbitration is an effective means of resolving a dispute. It hands the decision to a person who is not influenced by the two parties, making the decision more impartial. This can be a major benefit if the two parties cannot agree on an adjudicator or have a particularly contentious relationship. The arbitrator will not be swayed by either side in a personal way and will be able to offer a ruling that is based solely on the evidence.

A Faster Process

Arbitration is a much faster process than taking legal action. Building cases, filing lawsuits, and waiting to go to court takes a lot of time. Arbitration can be handled much faster and with much less hassle. It is also a much more cost-effective process than a lawsuit. The costs for arbitration are mostly limited to the fees for the arbitrator, a location, and Houston construction dispute lawyers if needed. There are no court fees or other fees to worry about. Filing a lawsuit often involves a filing fee and many other court-related fees to process. On top of that, there are the costs associated with stopping work on the project, missing work to go to court, and many other areas where the fees can begin to pile up. 

This makes arbitration feasible for a wide range of disputes and projects. Subcontractors often don’t have the resources to file lawsuits against their contractors, putting them in a vulnerable position. The low cost of arbitration makes it easier for subcontractors to work toward a better resolution to a dispute. 

Arbitration Proceedings are Confidential

One of the benefits of not going to trial is that the results are not entered in the public record. Arbitration proceedings are handled confidentially, and everyone involved usually signs a non-disclosure agreement. For contractors and subcontractors, this can be a benefit as it protects their professional reputations. Companies may be hesitant to work with subcontractors that call for arbitration, and the same can be said of subcontractors working with contractors that arbitrate disputes often. Instead, the details are protected so that few people will be able to know what really happened. 

Work Continues During an Arbitration

Unlike a lawsuit or other types of legal action, work on a project does not have to stop during an arbitration. There is not a binding concept that prevents work in other areas of a project from happening. Many contractors use this feature to continue moving the project forward to avoid delays and the possible penalties that those delays can create. 

Regardless of which side of the dispute you are on, continuing work is a good thing. You will be able to continue to do work that you can be paid for without a dispute. Plus, keeping the project from stalling ultimately saves a lot of money in equipment, supply, and employee costs that can reduce a project’s profitability. This is one of the reasons why arbitration preserves the relationships between the two parties. It will not interfere with the overall project and prevent other subcontractors or the contractor from losing money. 

A Houston contractor lawyer can help you add clauses to your contract to allow arbitration to handle disputes. This way, you can avoid many of the potential problems that a dispute lawsuit can create. If you have questions about the kinds of software and documentation you may need, contact a Houston contractor attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

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.