Construction Dispute Law in New York
Owners of real estate in Watertown, New York commonly contract with other parties ("contractors") for construction on the property they own. Such projects are likely to suffer at least a few minor setbacks, and any project also carries the risk of major setbacks, delays, or unexpected costs.
In the overwhelming majority of instances, however, these problems are resolvable, and do not lead to major disputes. Being rational, business-minded adults, landowners and construction contractors are normally 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 involved, it does not always need to be a court. Private mediators can help 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 Watertown, New York can be extremely time-consuming, stressful, and costly. Nevertheless, there are (relatively rare) times where it is the only option.
Examples of Construction Disputes That Might Lead to Litigation in Watertown, New York
Delays in Construction: Delays are commonly 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 normally be liable to the landowner for any harm resulting from it.
Owner's Refusal to Pay: If the contractor completes the project, and the owner refuses to pay the agreed-upon price, the contractor will normally file a lawsuit to recover what is owed. Of course, the owner will normally claim that there is a good reason for not paying, arguing that the contractor didn't conform to the project's specifications, or that the quality of construction was unacceptably poor. In such a case, the court will have to determine if the contractor actually breached the contract by doing shoddy work, which could, at least in part, excuse the owner's duty to pay.
Subcontractor Disputes: In large projects, contractors often can't handle every aspect of the construction, so they hire other (normally smaller) contractors to do some specialized work for them, such as plumbing, electrical installations, and the like. The general contractor, however, is responsible to the owner for anything that goes wrong. If a subcontractor messes up, and the owner sues the contractor, the contractor will have to pay. However, the contractor can then go after the subcontractor to recover whatever he had to pay.
Mechanic's Liens: Sometimes, when a contractor wins in a lawsuit against the landowner who hired him or her, and obtains a court order for payment, the contractor will still refuse to pay. Since a money judgment isn't worth much without a way to enforce it, the laws of many states have evolved to authorize what's known as a "mechanic's lien." As a last resort, if a landowner refuses to pay the contractor for work done on the property, the contractor can force a sale of the property, and keep the proceeds, up to the amount of money owed.
Can a Watertown, New York Attorney Help?
Construction disputes can be time-consuming and costly. Hiring a brilliant Watertown, New York real estate attorney can make it much easier to deal with such disputes, and help you avoid litigation, or prevail if litigation becomes necessary.