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What should I do before signing a construction contract?

The honeymoon phase of a new construction project in North Carolina can be a heady time for all involved, but it is important not to let that get in the way of the fine print of the contract. While you are seeing everything through rose-colored glasses now, your perspective may change a few months into the project.

You may be able to avoid some of the headaches of a construction contract dispute by considering the following factors as enumerated on FindLaw before signing your construction contract.

Timing

What is the time frame of the construction project? What costs do you face if it is not completed on time? When does the other party expect to make or receive payments? Can the other party withhold payment if construction milestones are not met? These are all questions you want to have answered before you sign your contract. The answers to these questions should also be incorporated into the terms of the contract. Make sure all parties understand what their obligations are so that you can move forward with greater certainty.

Important terms and underlying assumptions                                                               

Make sure that important terms are spelled out in the contract. If a closet is to be made of cedar, spell that out in the contract so that a construction company cannot claim later that you had agreed to oak. Be aware of underlying assumptions, too. If state construction law allows for mechanic's liens, understand when those liens may apply.

Disagreements

The contract should discuss what happens if the parties fall into a disagreement about the construction job. If the contract specifies arbitration as a solution, look into the arbitration provider and research whether you believe they will resolve your dispute fairly. Note whether you will be required to pay the attorneys' fees of the other parties if you bring a dispute into court. Understand when and how either party can decide to end the contract.

Preliminary contract negotiations can seem like a time-consuming obstacle between you and your dream project, but the extra effort now will reward you well if trouble arises down the road.

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