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Disputes can be especially complicated for subcontractors

Construction disputes are often complicated for both sides as they consider factors like the expected quality of work, the exact wording of the contract, and the local laws, codes and statutes that come into play. Homeowners and contractors can go back and forth over what rights and obligations each side has and how the job must be done.

However, this can be especially complicated for subcontractors, like plumbers and electricians. If the homeowner has a problem with the work, he or she may talk to the head contractor or general contractor. That person will then approach the subcontractor and messages get passed back and forth with this buffer layer in the middle -- potentially distorting the message or leading to communication errors that make an already tough situation even harder.

Subcontractors may feel caught in the middle. They may have no realistic ability to talk to the homeowner and explain why the job was done the way it was done. They only get the story as it is told to them by the general contractor, and they may feel powerless to sort out these disputes. Homeowners, likewise, may feel that they're not getting anywhere because the general contractor just blames the issues on the subcontractors and says he or she will take care of it, but the general contractor doesn't actually take on that job or make the changes.

The result can be a frustrating dispute for all sides, with poor communication and all parties growing fed up with the process. At times like these, it's especially important to be aware of local construction laws and legal options if the dispute escalates into a court case.

Source: ECM, "Confronting Construction Conflicts," Marilyn Klinger, accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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