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Why are construction disputes so common and what you can do to prevent them

13 June, 2024


A dispute between two parties is the last thing you want at the end of a project, but unfortunately this is all too common an occurrence. While you can’t always predict what’s going to happen, or control every situation, what you can do is put your best foot forward to reduce the likelihood of a dispute arising. Or should it happen, ensure that your organization has held up your end of the bargain and done your due diligence, with the evidence to back it up. 


Read on to find out what the most common causes for disputes are and what you can do to reduce the likelihood of a dispute occurring.  

What are construction disputes?

A construction dispute is when two or more stakeholders involved in a project disagree on key issues like payments, scheduling and prices, or when conflict arises during or after the project work has been carried out. This could include contractors, subcontractors, suppliers or project owners. 


If a dispute does occur, being able to have a discussion to resolve the issue and agree on a resolution is the best-case scenario. This prevents things from escalating and provides a chance to maintain or improve the stakeholder relationship. Unfortunately, disputes often end up needing legal assistance to get a resolution, which can be costly and time consuming.  


  • It’s estimated that 80% of project professionals spend at least half their time on rework, and poor communication costs companies $62 million per year on average 
  • Disputes are continuing to rise year after year, with 91% experiencing a dispute in the last 12 months
  • Over ¼ of firms are at risk when staff leave the business 

Common causes of construction disputes and how to manage them

The most common causes of disputes are unpaid invoices, delays and project scope changes. While chasing payments and having issues with delays tend to be the most frequent cause of disputes, having projects that fall out of the original scope are becoming more frequent within disputes.

Other factors include things like design issues or disagreements, or work which hasn’t met the expected standards.  


In general, the best thing you can do to reduce the risk of disputes is to clearly outline everything from the beginning. This begins with your contract and ensuring both parties are completely clear on the terms and what’s expected, through to thoroughly recording every stage of the planning involved. Communicating clearly and ensuring everyone agrees in writing, means you have a record of what’s been agreed for the scope of the project, and you can refer back to this if any conflict arises later down the line. 


While there’s a lot of factors that are outside of your control, managing communication and project information well is one thing that you can do consistently. The way you manage your email is a key part of this. It’s something that often gets overlooked; while there’s a process for managing everything else, emails tend to get left for people to manage, or not, in their own way. You might have some who file their emails consistently, and others who don’t. This means all the individual emails that contain project critical or key information are hidden away in the recipient’s inboxes. 

How Ideagen Mail Manager can help

An email management system like Ideagen Mail Manager acts as an insurance policy should you encounter a dispute. It means you always have access to the right emails to prove what was communicated, to whom and when. It ensures that important emails are able to be found easily and accessed when you need them, even if the owner of the inbox is away or has since left the business.  

Find out more about how email can help construction firms reduce risk within disputes.


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