Construction Dispute Law in Minnesota

When the owner of some real estate and a contractor enter an agreement for a construction project in Columbus, Minnesota, be it a house, landscaping project, or wide office building, there's always a chance that issues will come up, no matter how careful everyone is. A few minor setbacks are almost inevitable, in fact.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, however, these problems are resolvable, and do not lead to major disputes. Being rational, business-minded adults, landowners and construction contractors are usually able to resolve disputes amongst themselves. After all, both stand to gain if the project is completed, and the contractor is paid.

Even if a third party gets incorporated, it does not always need to be a court. Private mediators can assist the parties reach a settlement, or a private arbitrator who is an expert on construction litigation can render a binding decision, if mediation and negotiation fail and the parties can't resolve their dispute.

Litigation of construction disputes in Columbus, Minnesota can be extremely time-consuming, stressful, and costly. Nevertheless, there are (relatively rare) occasions where it is the only option.

Examples of Construction Disputes That Might Lead to Litigation in Columbus, Minnesota

Delays in Construction: Delays are often points of contention between contractors and landowners. Contracts sometimes have clauses which explicitly state that the project needs to be completed by a certain date, or penalties will be imposed on the contractor (reduced payments, for example). However, if the contract doesn't contain such built-in remedies, or one party refuses to abide by them, litigation may be necessary. If a contractor causes a delay that it could have prevented, it will usually be liable to the landowner for any harm resulting from it.

Owner's refusal to pay: if the contractor finishes a project to specifications, and the owner of the property doesn't pay the contractor, the contractor will most likely file a lawsuit to recover the agreed-upon price. In such cases, the owner will usually argue that the contractor's work wasn't of acceptable quality. In these cases, the court must decide who first breached the contract. In these cases, it's the party who did not breach first who wins the lawsuit. If the court finds that the contractor breached the contract through sub-quality work product, the owner will not be liable for payment (though he may have to pay for materials and labor), and if the court finds that the construction was acceptable, the owner has to pay, because he is the party in breach.

Subcontractor Disputes: With very large construction projects, general contractors don't always have the resources to do all the work themselves, so they hire other contractors to do some of the work for them. Nonetheless, it is the general contractor who is ultimately responsible to the owner for the satisfactory completion of the project. So, it is very essential to the general contractor that subcontractors do a good job. If the subcontractor causes a delay or other issue, and the owner sues the general contractor as a result, the general contractor can then go after the subcontractor to recover whatever it lost in the lawsuit.

Mechanic's Lien: When a contractor wins a case against a client for nonpayment of the contract price, and the client still declines to pay, there is a problem: a monetary judgment means next to nothing if it can't be enforced. To solve this problem, the mechanic's lien has been developed. Essentially, if a landowner refuses to pay a contractor, even in the face of a court order, the court can force a sale of the property that the contractor worked on, along with all the improvements on it, and then give the funds to the contractor, to secure payment.

Can a Columbus, Minnesota Attorney Help?

Disputes over construction delays or defects can be extremely taxing. Therefore, getting an experienced Columbus, Minnesota real estate attorney might mean the difference between success or failure in your business ventures.