When a contractor or builder breaches the terms of a contract, those violations have real-world implications for you or your business. The work may not meet the expectations listed in the contract, or the work may not have been performed in the manner designated by the agreement.
When a breach of a contract occurs, you have a right to enforce the terms of your legal agreement. At the Katz Law Group, we understand the unique aspects of construction contract litigation, and how to enforce the terms of your agreement.
Construction Contract Disputes in Massachusetts
Contract disputes arise in varying circumstances and can be minor or extremely serious. In any case, when a contractor or builder agrees to do something by contract, you have a legal right to enforce that contract in most circumstances.
Common construction contract disputes include:
- Failure to use approved subcontractors;
- Failure to follow the building specifications (i.e. blueprints, design choices, etc.);
- Missing building deadlines without proper excuse or permission;
- Use of materials not approved in the contract;
- Excessive increase in construction, labor, or materials cost;
- Failure to complete the work for the quoted price (based upon the language of contract); or
- Poor construction or substantial construction defects.
These are far from the only disputes that may arise over a contractual agreement, and anytime a builder or contractor breaches a contract with you, an experienced Massachusetts construction law attorney can help evaluate your case.
Enforcing the Terms of the Contract
To enforce the terms of the contract, you have options available to you. In all likelihood, you have attempted to fix the situation already, with little to no success.
The Power of Legal Representation
Sometimes, all it takes to get the ball rolling, and the other party to comply with the contract is for them to know you are represented by an attorney. This shows that you are serious about enforcing your contract, and your legal rights. Your attorney can file a letter or formal demand requiring compliance with the contract terms.
Your attorney can also speak with contractors to work out a mutually agreeable solution if a true problem exists. The threat of impending litigation often makes builders and contractors much more willing to fix the problem.
At times, a more formal negotiation process such as mediation is required. Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party to help the parties come to an agreement to fix the breach of the contract. When this works, it can save you the time and money you would otherwise have to spend on litigation. Mediation can be a very effective solution to your legal problems in many circumstances.
When less formal options fail to force the other party to comply with the contract, litigation may be necessary. When that is the case, you want a team at your side that has years of experience in construction contract litigation who knows how to effectively fight for your rights.
Construction Contract Litigation
Construction contract litigation can be complex and time-consuming, but with the right help, you can enforce the terms of your contract the right way.
Review of the Contract Terms
At the beginning of the litigation, it is critical to analyze and understand all of the terms in the contract and focus especially on those you as the client believe have been breached. Contracts can be worded very confusingly, and in some cases, this is done on purpose by the party who created it. It is important to know exactly what the contract says you are entitled to so that your rights can be enforced.
Filing the Complaint
To begin your case, your attorney will file a legal document called a complaint. The complaint sets forth the general accusations and facts of the case, and names the parties to the lawsuit. This step is very important, and it is critical to identify the proper parties to the lawsuit. For example, most construction projects have a general contractor and multiple subcontractors.
Depending on the facts of the case, who is appropriate to add to the complaint will differ. We can properly identify and name all appropriate parties to the lawsuit.
The Discovery Process
Discovery is the exchange of information and documents between the parties in an effort to learn the facts of the case. This important process is often the most time consuming but is necessary to build your case in preparation for a potential trial.
If all negotiations throughout the rest of the process have failed, the case will go to trial. Evidence will be presented before a judge or jury and a decision will be made. The experienced attorneys at the Katz Law Group have years of trial experience they can bring to bear for you.
Remedies for Breach of a Construction Contract
A remedy is the actual "fix" to your problem and the breach of the contract. It can occur by the agreement at an early stage, or as the result of the judge's or jury's decision at trial.
"Specific performance" is a legal term which means that the breaching party is obligated to fulfill the actual term in the contract. For example, if a subcontractor installed plumbing in incorrect places, causing the bathroom to be constructed incorrectly, specific performance would require the subcontractor to go back in and do it correctly.
Specific performance is not always possible, or you may not even want it. In some cases, you may no longer trust that contractor to perform the work.
Instead of specific performance, you may also receive money damages that equal the amount it would take to put you in a position as if the breach had never occurred. This would mean money to:
- fix the actual problem created by the breach (i.e. to fix the plumbing in the example above);
- cost to repair other issues created by the breach;
- damages for the delay to construction; or
- attorney's fees (in limited circumstances).
Consult a Massachusetts Construction Attorney
If a builder or contractor has breached a contract in regards to the construction of a residential home or commercial property, it should be the responsible parties that bear the cost of repairs, not you.
At the Katz Law Group, we are highly experienced in the area of construction litigation and have the years of experience necessary to protect your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.