Are you not happy with the specification
of the job that’s been done for you?
Has the customer changed the specification
and this has cost you time and money?
Mediation4Builders can help resolve these issues for both builders and homeowners without
costly litigation or court. Contact us today
Specifications related to a building include plans, elevations, and items to be used in the project. It lays down the parameters of how the building would be constructed. The list of specifications renders clarity to the project, and fix expectations.
Usually, the homeowner decides on the specifications or approves the list of specifications drawn up by the architect and designer. Such specifications are included in the building contract and form the basis of the construction agreement with the builder.
Disputes over the scope of work, as represented by the specifications and the accompanying plan, is of the most common type of dispute associated with construction projects.
Disputes related to specifications usually take place between the general contractor or subcontractor and the owner. At times, the dispute may be between contractors and design professionals who interpret specification related documents differently. Different interpretations creep up when the specifications are ambiguous in some instances, or when plans run contradictory to specifications. When an aspect of the specification may be vague, it leads to different interpretation and expectation-mismatch between the builder and homeowner. At times, the builder may deviate from the specification when the work is executed, owing to practical difficulties, technical limitations, or even plain oversight.
Any building project usually comes with an implied warranty from the building owner regarding the accuracy and technical soundness of the specifications. Disputes may arise when the owner tries to shift the responsibility to the contractor, and the contractor, in turn, tries to invoke the implied warranty.
Mediation4Builders is an effective means to solve specification related disputes. Mediation involves a neutral third party helping the disputing parties to resolve conflict, by applying special negotiation and communication techniques.
The expert construction mediator brings both parties together and tries to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to the dispute. They listen to what both sides have to say, and presents the others point of view to a party, in an agreeable way. A good mediator looks into the laid down specifications in the contract, to determine if the builder has deviated from the agreed-upon specifications. They would also look into industry standards and best practice, to see if the specifications demanded by the building owner is reasonable, or even technically feasible.
Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator, however, does not impose a decision on either party. The mediator rather makes an effort to make both parties see the other parties point of view, and reconcile the difference.
Effective building mediation helps both parties arrive at a common ground, and thereby resolve disputes amicably. The mediator strives to deliver a win-win solution, acceptable to both parties. The mediator has many tricks up his sleeve, including making parties realise the time-value of money, and making them understand a present compromise may be better than a costly and time-consuming legal process. For instance, consider a recent case, where a builder ‘won’ £5,000 in court, but ended up paying £13,500 in legal fees!.
The best approach is of course to pre-empt situations which could lead to a dispute. Make sure the specifications are vetted by technical experts, and are practical, or doable, before executing the contract with the builder.
When disputes are inevitable despite the best efforts, rely on a mediator with experience, integrity, and technical competence.