How to help avoid a claim on your construction project
The best type of construction claim is clearly no claim at all. That in itself is an extremely difficult thing to achieve, but there are things you can do to help avoid a claim occurring, and prevent disputes from escalating when they arise.
Key items in your contract
Making sure your contract is clear and comprehensive is essential for laying the groundwork for avoiding claims on a construction project. We all know that things happen to affect time and cost of building, but your contract can make it clear to all parties how things should be handled in order to prevent small issues turning into big disagreements.
For example, make provision for notices such as additional costs or time because of unforeseen circumstances to be delivered in particular time frames and in writing to avoid miscommunication and to allow for provisions to be made. In the case of differing site conditions, the contractor should make the owner aware of their findings in reasonable time so that it can be investigated before building starts. Time extension clauses may also be included to protect the contractor if delays occur for reasons beyond their control.
Managing construction schedules
Issues with schedules and delays are the most common cause of dispute on a project, so it’s important to invest in ways to manage these as best as possible. That includes setting schedules up well to begin with and keeping them up to date. To make sure everyone is on the same page, these processes should be laid out in the contract at the start and all parties should agree that it’s a process that’s workable. You may wish to consult with a scheduling expert to find the best process possible.
Risk management and assessment
Risk is an unavoidable part of a construction site, so it’s vital that it’s managed well if you want to try to avoid a construction claim. Using risk assessments and quantitative modelling to identify potential areas of issue is a proactive way of managing risks and creating plans to handle them. This will also allow for any associated costs to be built into the initial quotes and budgets, rather than coming as a surprise down the line.
Administration and document management
Document management is one of the easiest ways to help prevent miscommunication and, consequently, claims. Ensuring that everyone has the latest information, is aware of any questions raised or issues that have arisen, understands the process and has not only seen, but acknowledged receipt and understood or accepted the information, is important. However, it can be difficult to keep track of things. This is the reason we favour a sophisticated and dedicated cloud document management system, specifically for construction projects – like QConZol.
Conflict resolution processes
As we have said many times before, the best way to avoid a claim on a construction project is to acknowledge that with the best will in the world, they do happen. On large projects with so many variables, it’s inevitable that things crop up and often the result is a delay in time or additional costs. The best way to prevent a dispute from escalating is to be prepared for them to happen and to have processes in place to handle them quickly, amicably and effectively. That might mean having written protocols in your contract, and/or having a claims expert on your team keeping an eye out for areas of issue and acting on them as soon as they come up.