Construction litigation has become a time-consuming and expensive area of legal practice. Even in residential construction, attorney and expert fees, and other costs of the lawsuits can rise high into five figures. Unfortunately, in many instances, better planning and attorney review at the beginning may have prevented the bitter litigation that ensued.
The worst place for you to save money is in drafting a contract with your builder. Have your attorney review your contract, discuss the terms, and inform you of the deal you are making BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. Your attorney can help you research your builder by a search of records at Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (“DPOR”). Maybe your knowledgeable real estate lawyer will have important information regarding your builder, both good and bad. The bottom line is that building a home may be your most expensive venture. It makes absolutely no sense to enter into that large undertaking before you make sure that you have properly protected your interests.
Your regulations govern the terms that are required in a building contract. Too many builder contracts fail to meet these minimal standards. If you get into a dispute with your owner, you may end up spending time and money to defend your reputation and contractor license before the DPOR. Furthermore, those contract terms protect you, the builder, as much as they protect the owners. For example, your contract must contain a change order provision, so ask your lawyer to prepare a proper form for your change orders. Litigation is expensive, so make sure that you have an attorneys’ fee provision if you are forced to litigate.
It rarely makes sense for parties to litigate residential construction cases. However, sometimes you have no choice. Your attorney cannot change the contract you signed, so protect your interests before you bind yourself to a six-figure obligation.
Tarley Robinson, PLC, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
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