There is no one size fits all approach to construction, whether it’s a home, a retail center or an office building. Similarly, construction contracts need to vary depending on the conditions and environment. What works for one project may not fit the next, even when there are similarities in materials, purpose and location.

Construction is a business like any other, meaning that finances, investment and growth need to be central to your decision-making. While most contracts cover basics like cost, timeline and payment adequately, the language used in those sections can be a boon or a burden when issues arise. Universal, cookie-cutter contracts don’t offer much leverage or wiggle room when conditions change. Not many projects complete without a few adjustments along the way.

Predictably unpredictable

There are many potential problems. A brief overview includes:

  • Delays
  • Damages
  • Payment
  • Time limits
  • Claims and disputes
  • Terms of termination

As we mentioned earlier, it’s essential to address each of these factors and more. The purpose of a contract is to protect your business, which means you need to look beyond the project’s general scope to include “what if” scenarios.

Vandalism or weather may delay a project. Market demand may change the supply chain and estimated costs. A client may file a claim after the project’s completion. A client may experience their own financial hardship and try to cancel.

Defining the terms

There are many variables and the language in a contract doesn’t just address these topics, it directs how those intangibles will be resolved. Timelines aren’t just vital to construction, they’re vital to business. If your contract doesn’t call for timely resolution of disputes, a completed project can be tied up for much longer, pulling you away from future work and absorbing valuable resources that you could be reinvesting.

Minimizing disputes

A contract isn’t just an agreement between two partners, it’s a document you can use to reflect your own business needs. A contract defines the rules of a deal. While it’s tempting to create your own contract to reflect your needs, many of the most common contract disputes involve the language used in core sections of the agreement, where two parties interpret the statement differently. By working with an experienced attorney to draft your contracts, you can protect your investment, not just from disputes over payment and terms, but from additional legal battles after the fact.