Construction Disputes: Making a Claim

Katie Thompson
Last Updated: February 7, 2024

Construction projects are complex and often involve multiple parties, making it inevitable that disputes and claims will arise. As a result, understanding construction claims and how to manage them is crucial for any construction project. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about construction claims, including what they are, how to manage them, and the role of a construction claims expert witness.

What are Construction Claims?

A construction claim is a formal request for additional time, money, or other relief due to a dispute or issue that has arisen during a construction project. These claims can be made by any party involved in the project, including the owner, contractor, subcontractor, or supplier. Common types of construction claims include schedule delays, payment disputes, changes in scope, design errors, breach of contract and defective work.

How to Manage Construction Claims

Managing construction claims effectively is crucial for the success of a construction project. Here are some steps you can take to manage construction claims:

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1. Document Everything

The key to successfully managing construction claims is having thorough and accurate documentation. This includes contracts, change orders, daily reports and any other relevant documents. It is imperative that your organization have a robust set of documented company policies, processes and procedures that will also help support your claims.  This includes having a secure standardized document management system that is accessible to applicable project employees and tracks any changes made to the documents.  All stakeholders should have document control company training and understand the scope to meet project objectives. For larger projects, a designated Document Controller can ensure document accuracy and compliance for the duration of your project.  By having a well-documented paper trail, you can easily refer back to specific details and timelines in case of a dispute.  Document control is essential to minimizing disputes, disruptions and ensures regulatory compliance. 

2. Communicate Clearly

Effective communication is essential in preventing and managing construction claims. All parties involved in the project should have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Regular meetings and progress reports can help keep everyone on the same page and address any issues in real time before they escalate into claims. 

3. Follow Procedures Outlined in the Contract

Most construction contracts have specific procedures for submitting and responding to claims. It is crucial to follow these procedures to ensure that your claim is considered valid and to avoid any delays or disputes. 

4. Seek Professional Help

In complex construction projects, it may be beneficial to seek the help of a construction claims expert witness. These professionals specialize in analyzing construction claims and can provide valuable insights, analyze technical aspects and guidance throughout the process. They can also help with dispute resolution and provide expert testimony if needed.

The Role of a Civil Engineering Expert Witness

A civil engineering expert witness is a highly skilled professional who specializes in analyzing construction claims. They have a deep understanding of construction contracts, project management, technical aspects of construction and dispute resolution. A civil engineering expert role is to analyze technical aspects, review evidence, conduct site inspections, and evaluate claims, provide expert opinions, and assist in resolving disputes. Most disputes in Alberta are resolved through a Mediator (a neutral third party) to avoid a long and costly litigation with lawyers.  The Mediator will work towards a mutually beneficial resolution for the parties involved in the dispute. 

The Path Forward

Construction claims are a common occurrence in the construction industry, and understanding how to manage them is crucial for the success of any project. By following proper procedures, communicating effectively, and seeking professional help when needed, you can effectively manage construction claims and ensure the success of your project.

If you are looking for experienced civil engineering company to guide you through as a civil engineering expert witness in Edmonton and across Alberta, be sure to engage with Bolson Engineering and Environmental Services. We will be happy to consult with you as your trusted engineering partner.

About the author

With more than 12 years in human resources, Katie brings important process management skills to the table. Her direct experience with senior management in the construction industry helps her understand your engineering project goals. Her creative forward-thinking propels Bolson toward exciting new business opportunities.

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