Construction Litigation Attorneys in San Jose, California
In a construction project, there is usually a contractor on one side of the deal and an owner on the other side. The contractor, in turn, will hire subcontractors to carry out details of the project. At any point in the construction project, a dispute can arise between the contractor and the owner financing everything, or between a contractor and a subcontractor.
Disputes can also arise with architects over design specifications or suppliers who provide faulty or substandard materials.
Whatever the dispute, it can result in construction delays, a possible run-up in costs, and even legal action. If a defect is discovered after completion of the project, the owner can expect the contractor to bring the building up to agreed-upon specifications. Again, however, there can be more delays and costs involved.
If you’re on either end of the construction cycle, builder or owner, and you’ve encountered a dispute that can result in costly legal action, contact Mosaic Law, P.C. We are experienced in California construction law and understand all the nuances of this complex field. We proudly serve clients in San Jose and throughout South County, San Joaquin County, Santa Clara Valley, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.
Construction Law in California
California expects both contractor and owner to act in good faith of their contractual obligations. Therefore, contractors have a duty of care toward the owner to produce results in a workmanlike, professional manner. In turn, the owner must cooperate with the developer and not interfere or purposely delay construction.
The construction of individual residences in the Golden State is covered by the Right to Repair Act of 2003. The act defines construction defects using a list of “functionality standards,” a violation of which can lead to legal action if not resolved voluntarily by the builder.
Another act, the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, covers the construction of apartment complexes and multi-unit dwellings. The act is commonly referred to as the “Calderon Procures,” as it establishes procedures for resolving construction disputes.
Common Construction Disputes
An analysis by ScienceDirect found 28 common causes of disputes in construction projects, and put them into categories:
Owner-related: An owner can cause delays and disputes in various ways, including initiating variations, changing the scope of the project, having unrealistic expectations, and delaying payment.
Contractor-related: Disputes initiated by the contractor include delays in work progress, the quality of work, seeking time extensions, lacking technical competence, and financial misdealings.
Design-related: The architect can cause disputes with design errors, the inadequacy of specifications, the quality of design, and the unavailability of information when needed.
Contract-related: Disputes can arise from ambiguities in the contract, differing interpretations of contract provisions, and risk allocation.
Human behavior-related: Lack of communications, an adversarial culture, and a lack of team spirit can lead to disputes.
Project-related: The site itself may pose a problem in completing the project according to specifications.
External factors: The weather and other conditions, such as an economic recession, inflation, or even pandemic lockdowns, can lead to disputes.
The National Real Estate Investor boils all these down to the five most common causes of disputes. First on their list are contractual errors and omissions, followed by site conditions, non-compliance with contractual obligations, failure to administer the contract, and claims errors. Everything, in short, starts with a well-crafted contract that all parties can understand and follow.
Dispute Resolution: Mediation or Litigation?
A dispute can delay and even shut down construction activities, further driving up costs and forestalling the completion of the project. While minor disputes can be worked on between contractor and owner, or contractor and subcontractor, more serious issues can require outside assistance.
If the owner and contractor, for instance, cannot agree on a dispute over adherence to original specifications – the builder might be using substitute or inferior materials – the two may have to submit to mediation. A third-party mediator can listen to both sides of the issue and recommend a solution. Mediators, however, cannot dictate a solution. The owner and contractor still have to sign off on what is being recommended.
If mediation fails or the other party doesn’t agree to the process, you must speak with our knowledgeable attorneys. This can lead to costly and lengthy court proceedings, which both sides probably want to avoid.
If a dispute arises after a construction defect is found, it can be taken under the Right to Repair Act.
If the construction project is for purposes other than residences – for instance, an office or commercial structure – state law allows the owner to take action under breach of contract or negligence statutes. The owner can also be held liable under breach of contract for non-compliance to their terms in withholding payment.
Construction law can be complex, and when a dispute arises, you will need to speak with our experienced attorneys. Many other aspects of the law may also be involved, including breach of contract. At Mosaic Law, P.C., we are well versed in real estate and construction law and can help walk you through every phase of construction, from contract to negotiations to legal action.
Construction Litigation Attorneys Serving San Jose, California
Contact us immediately if you’re facing issues with a construction project. We proudly serve clients in San Jose, California, including South County, San Joaquin County, Santa Clara Valley, and the Santa Cruz Mountains.