If You Think Only Lawyers Preach a Good Contract


Contracts (Photo credit: NobMouse)

Here at Construction Law Musings, we always preach that a good contract is the best way to start a project off right. No only do the Virginia courts enforce these contracts to a “T,” a well drafted contract can and does set the expectations for both sides so that those wonderful grey areas that we construction attorneys love to play in do not exist.

A good construction contract sets expectations, educates those that do not necessarily know exactly what you as a contractor plan to do or the process you’ll use to accomplish the goals, and importantly sets forth how disputes and claims will be resolved in the (hopefully) unlikely event of such a situation. These are all great ideas from my attorney perspective.

Lest you think that this advice is only from an attorney perspective, a great recent post by contractor and consultant Michael Stone states what seems obvious after reading the article, namely: A Poorly Written Contract Will Cost You Money. Like me, he does not think that a contract needs to be complicated, just thorough. The article takes a business perspective (one that even as a construction attorney I try to take) on contract drafting. The article is summarized as follows:

Let me suggest a minimum standard for your contracts. Every contract should have three sections: the Customer/Contractor information, the Job Details and the Legalese.

And goes into more detail from there.

Thanks to Mr. Stone for his great insight and some confirmation that even non-lawyers can and do see the value of a well written contract with the proper dose of “legalese.”

As always, I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Construction Law Musings.

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5 Responses to If You Think Only Lawyers Preach a Good Contract
  1. Alan D.
    July 30, 2013 | 8:50 PM

    “The self-drafting of legal documents is fool-hardy. Education is expensive.” Quote from a judge’s ruling verbatim. Did not matter how good of an argument I could make, it all collapsed at the feet of a poorly drafted contract.

  2. Christopher G. Hill
    July 31, 2013 | 5:26 PM

    That is a good lesson. If the contract isn’t good, it’s like a bad foundation, the whole thing collapses.

    Thanks for checking in.
    Christopher G. Hill recently posted..A Plug: Please Vote Construction Law Musings for Blawg 100My Profile

  3. Sometimes Scope Of Work Isn’t Obvious
    October 23, 2013 | 6:23 PM

    […] Law Musings. Why? Because in most states, and particularly in my home state of Virginia, the contract creates the “law” that will govern your interaction on a construction project. In construction, every word of the contract will be read carefully in […]

  4. […] these are important, particularly in the Murphy’s Law riddled world of construction where the contract will determine your rights in the face of a dispute or other problem that you’ll need an attorney to deal with later. […]

  5. […] chain” and therefore less in control of the flow of money), you need to carefully evaluate not only the contract presented, but whether you get a good feeling about the party with whom you are […]

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About Musings

I am a construction lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, a LEED AP, and have been nominated by my peers to Virginia's Legal Elite in Construction Law on multiple occasions. I provide advice and assistance with mechanic's liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.

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