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Resolving disputes on construction projects

Construction safety

Disputes between construction contractors and those who employ them are notorious for becoming difficult. Whichever side of the deal you’re on, it’s a pain – everybody would prefer it if things went smoothly. It doesn’t need to be like that because there are professional dispute resolution services available to help – and short of that, there are a few things that you can do yourself.

Why use contractors?

Because of the risk of disputes developing, many landlords prefer to handle all their construction projects in-house, while private individuals may prefer to rely on DIY. But it’s difficult to do everything by yourself – you may simply not have what it takes, especially with jobs where there is a statutory requirement for specific professional qualifications. Contractors give you flexibility and make it possible to for you to achieve better quality results.

Managing money

When hiring a contractor, it’s important to make sure you’re clear on costs ahead of time. Ask for a quote that includes the maximum amount the job could run to if it turns out to be more problematic than expected, and look at insurance options to cover this.

As a contractor, it’s important to make sure your employer has the means to pay even if costs run higher than expected. In the event of late payment, you can use a credit collection agency to obtain what you are owed, but there will be a fee involved. There are other options. While umbrella PAYE management is familiar to most people; many don’t realise umbrella companies can also help chase up late payers. Trade unions can also be very helpful, saving you time, energy and stress.

Health and safety

In the event of disputes over health and safety, advice and support are available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which can clarify the safety measures required when carrying out specific kinds of jobs. The HSE should also be advised of any serious accidents that occur. Trade unions also offer advice and can support contractors that are asked to cut corners by unscrupulous employers.

Bringing in the regulators

When hiring contractors, it’s imperative to be sure they’re properly licensed. Licensing requires them to meet a certain level of professional competence, and if they fail to do so, you can contact the licensing bodies to ask for their help. This can lead to you receiving a refund for poor quality work that will need to be redone, and it can result in fines for contractors. The risk of fines provides an extra incentive for contractors to ensure they carry out work to the required standard.

Of course, what everybody wants is to avoid disputes occurring in the first place. The best course of action is to discuss each project in detail before work begins. Often difficulties occur not because either the employer or the contractor is unprofessional where the work itself is concerned, but because of poor communication between the two. Taking the time to get this right reduces the risks for all involved.