Construction Disputes: Why They Happen, and How to Avoid Them

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Global construction disputes reached $73 billion last August, according to a report by HKA. When tallied up, project extensions would add an extra 750 years to their timelines. Add to that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and labor shortages—two factors that make things even harder for contractors.

Construction disputes cost time and money. They can even put a contractor out of business. But there are ways to navigate and avoid them—and it all starts with solid documentation to protect your business.

What are the most common construction disputes?

In HKA’s report, the top ten reasons for construction disputes were:

  1. Change in scope
  2. Contract interpretation issues
  3. Contract management and/or administration failure
  4. Design information was issued late
  5. Design was incomplete
  6. Design was incorrect
  7. Poor management of subcontractor/supplier and/or their interfaces
  8. Physical conditions were unforeseen
  9. Access to site/workplace was restricted and/or late
  10. Workmanship deficiencies

One common thing most of them involve? A lack of communication.

How can contractors avoid disputes?

At the end of the day, timely documentation has your back. Construction tech (like Raken) can help you improve it—and avoid rework and disputes.

1. Collect timely field data.

Field data is crucial from day one—especially if you can’t be on the jobsite. Your crews are the ones out in the field, so you have to make it easy for them to document their progress. With a mobile app, workers can complete any necessary paperwork on the go.

Real-time updates help you track a project closely, spot any potential problems, and adjust to make sure you stay on schedule. Improving compliance and coordination is simpler, too.

2. Take photos, videos, and notes.

Visualizing a jobsite is easier said than done. Photos and videos show the finer details of your progress, surrounding area, or circumstances where words could fall short. (Thank you, photo markup.)


Visual data comes in handy at any project phase. During site investigation, photos help your team translate design into physical spaces. After delivery? You can look back and see a project from start to finish. With time and date stamps from when the photo was taken, you’ll have proof nothing was altered.

3. Automate reporting to reduce errors.

Manual entry is inefficient. It can also increase errors in project data. When documentation is your first line of defense against disputes, it’s essential to be as accurate (and up to date) as possible.

Construction tech automatically transfers files to the office, as soon as field crews sign them off. That means less time spent manually entering data—and more time analyzing it to improve projects.

4. Store documentation in one place.

Most disputes don’t happen in real time. In fact, a lot of them come up months after a project is finished. That’s why proper document storage is key to backing up your work.

Cloud storage stores all your project files in one central place. With everything together, finding important documentation (even months later) can be done in just a few taps. You’ll have an accurate, clean timeline of events to refer to when you need it most.

In construction, change is a constant—and more often than not businesses are faced with unforseen delays or challenges. Proper documentation means you'll be more prepared and protected when situations arise. Raken customer John W. Danforth saw this firsthand during the pandemic.

From Todd Follis, VP of Pre-Construction Planning at J.W. Danforth:

Everything with COVID-19 was an unplanned cost. But we’re able to show the impacts to labor and material, and we’re able to report that on a daily basis to the GCs and CMs, providing a real potential for fair and equitable compensation.

Read more about how Danforth uses Raken to defend contracts and work in disputes.

5. Send progress updates to stakeholders.

In construction, many disputes come down to contract language or compliance. That makes it even more important to keep stakeholders informed at every step.

Construction apps let you share progress with stakeholders from anywhere. Raken takes that one step further by creating professional, branded PDF reports for your projects. Photos and notes are automatically attached to them, so clients can see what's happening on the jobsite—and bring up anything before it’s too late.

Improve your data—and reduce costs—with Raken.

Raken’s field-focused software gives you an easy way to document projects. Collect field data on the go, share professional reports, back up your work, and mitigate risk with Raken.


Schedule a demo today to see it in action.