Construction disputes are notorious for being expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. Experts must be consulted, lots of unorganized paperwork must be reviewed, and witnesses must be interviewed or deposed. It is not unusual for these cases to wind through the court system for a long time, costing the parties many thousands of dollars in legal fees.
If you are involved in a potential construction dispute, you should plan to visit with an attorney experienced in handling these types of matters. Then, begin gathering all the necessary paperwork to review with the attorney. The attorney needs to know what the contract was between the parties. This includes what work was promised to be done, who was providing materials, method of payment, time for performance, etc.
Contractors have several hurdles that they must clear before a contractor has the ability to pursue collection, including filing a lien against the real property. These requirements include licensing and registration with the state. Certain disclosures and documents must also be given by the contractor to the owner of the property. If some of these requirements have not been complied with, the contractor may be completely prohibited from recovering funds.
The landowner also has to do certain things before they can pursue a lawsuit or fire a contractor. For example, the landowner needs to comply with the Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act. This law generally requires the homeowner to provide some opportunity for the contractor to make the repairs, before the homeowner can pursue a lawsuit.
After consulting with an attorney you will have better knowledge as to what your options are and how you should proceed. If your position is weak, common sense might dictate a softer approach. If proper licenses, registrations, notices, disclosures are all in place, the parties may want to consider alternative dispute resolutions such as mediation. Mediation may be scheduled as soon as the parties agree, whereas it may take months to have a trial date scheduled. Trials may also be postponed for a number of reasons. Additionally, mediation typically costs a fraction of what a trial would cost the parties. Most mediated cases are resolved in no more than a handful of mediation sessions.
David Johnson is an attorney located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, who handles construction disputes for both property owners and contractors. He is a trained mediator and understands how the mediation process works. He serves clients in most counties in Eastern Idaho including Bonneville, Bingham, Jefferson, Fremont, Madison, Teton, Butte, Custer and Clark Counties.