So much for creating beautiful buildings which make people happy. You spent months on this project, worked late to meet the deadlines, and came in under budget. Yet, this morning you walked into the office to find a letter waiting, telling you the client was suing. It’s enough to make you wish you had become a librarian instead – no one is going to sue you because you put the book on the wrong shelf.

Being on the receiving end of construction litigation can be stressful, tarnish your reputation and cost you time and money. Here are some tips to reduce the risk:

  1. Stick to what you know: Avoid projects outside your scope of expertise. While the payment may be tempting, the chance of making errors is higher.
  2. Do not put too much pressure on yourself: The tighter the margins and deadlines you agree to, the less flexibility you allow yourself.
  3. Know what you are signing: Being good at construction and understanding legal documents are two separate skills. Before signing a contract, have it checked out by a construction attorney.
  4. Supervise: If it is your signature on the document, it is your image on the line. You cannot trust your reputation to contractors you hire in. Make regular checks to spot potential issues.
  5. Document everything: The more detailed and consistent your documentation, the more evidence you have to defend yourself from litigation.

You can never entirely rule out the risk of litigation. Still, by following these steps, you can reduce the chance of legal action.