Construction Disputes

Construction law is the body of law that deals with legal issues and matters surrounding the construction industry. It applies to the interactions between contractors, subcontractors, owners, developers, design professionals, suppliers, construction workers, and construction customers, and covers a broad range of legal issues.

In most construction projects, things go as planned and the parties conclude their business satisfied with the exchange. Unfortunately, problems sometimes arise. For example, a contractor may fail to perform on time or within budget, a defect may occur rendering the structure unsafe, or a customer may refuse to provide payment when due. In such circumstances, complainants can turn to the legal system for assistance.

Potential Areas of Dispute in Construction Projects

Following are some of the issues that commonly arise in construction law.

Construction Defects

Construction defects are conditions in the finished product that reduce the product’s overall value. These conditions may render the final product sub-standard, unattractive, unsafe, or simply not as desired by the purchaser. Some construction defects are obvious. These are known as patent defects. Others are illusive and may not become apparent until years after the project is complete. These are known as latent defects. Construction defects can arise from a variety of factors such as the use of inferior materials, poor workmanship, or unforeseen external variables like changing weather conditions. However they arise, whenever they become apparent, a defect must be rectified in order for the project to succeed.


A lien is a legal claim against some type of property, personal or real, that secures the payment of a debt. Implied in a lien is the right of the lien holder to sell the subject property in order to recover the debt owed. A lien may be created in one of two ways.

  1. Through the consent of the parties, or a “consensual” lien. Consensual liens are created through contract between the creditor and the debtor and include mortgages, deeds of trust, car loans, and other types of security interests.
  2. Without the consent of both parties, or a “non-consensual” lien. Typically, non-consensual liens are created by statute or operation of law. Such liens include tax liens (for failure to pay taxes), attorney’s liens (for unpaid fees), mechanic’s liens (for unpaid work done on property or land), medical liens (for unpaid medical bills), and judgment liens.

A lien causes a stain on a property by clouding the title and rendering the property less attractive to buyers. A lien may even prevent the sale of a property. Consequently, it is important that liens be dealt with expeditiously and the title for the property cleared.

Government Audits

A government audit is an evaluation of the financial records of a business entity or an individual. Audits are conducted by trained professionals, usually accountants, to determine the validity of certain information and to independently assess records and reporting systems. Government audits pay particular attention to careless or improper record keeping. The end-goal of a government audit is for the auditor to feel satisfied that the records of the business or individual are free from material errors. The auditor will compile and issue a report containing his assessment and offering suggestions to the audited party on remedies for any issues uncovered.

Government audits can be quite intrusive and time consuming. It can be difficult to explain all the complexities and nuances of a business to an outsider. It is often helpful in these situations to have an attorney representing the audited party to ensure the matter moves along determinedly and to defend the audited party against any wrongful conclusions. If mistakes are uncovered, a good attorney may also be able to negotiate with the auditor for a lesser penalty.

We Can Help

If you are involved in a construction project and a dispute or problem has arisen with other parties involved in the project, you should seek legal counsel immediately. At the Deno Millikan Law Firm, we have a team of attorneys with deep knowledge of the construction industry and extensive experience in the practice of construction law. We stand ready to assist you in the resolution of your dispute and ensure your legal rights are protected. Contact us today at 425-259-2222 or contact us online.