Category Archives: Construction

Effective Communication Strategies in Construction Mediation in Houston TX

Construction mediation in Houston Texas can often help parties embroiled in an issue related to a contract or construction project to work out their differences and move on with their relationship.  However, to make the most of construction mediation in Houston Texas, it is important that the parties and the mediator demonstrate effective communication strategies.

One effective method to employ during mediation is to demonstrate curiosity.  Having a natural interest in what the other person is saying and how he or she perceives things can help establish trust and respect in the mediation setting.  Demonstrating curiosity helps individuals have a deeper understanding of what motivates others and what their interests are.  Curiosity identifies key information to help resolve the dispute.  Demonstrating curiosity also helps the parties to express their own ideas and beliefs.

Another effective strategy is to restrain one’s own ego in order to learn more about the other side.  If the party can ignore any perceived slights, fight off the instinct to defend himself or herself and truly focus on what the other party is saying, information can be expressed in a manner that illuminates greater detail.  This strategy can provide important insight into the motivations of the other party.  People have an intrinsic need to tell their own story, and this strategy allows them to do that.

Finally, requesting feedback from the other party can help re calibrate expectations and move the parties closer to a resolution.

Deal Breakers to Construction Mediation in Houston TX

Parties who agree to construction mediation in Houston TX often do so because they realize the vast benefits of this alternative to litigation.  If conducted properly, construction mediation in Houston TX can result in a faster, less stressful, and more affordable option than pursuing litigation.  However, some barriers, if not dealt with properly, can cause mediation to fail.

Systemic Distrust

If the parties do not trust the process of mediation or the other party, this can be an enormous challenge.  A mediator can help explain that mediation can help avoid the larger system of litigation and the judicial system.  He or she can also help the parties see what they have in common and help build up trust throughout the process.

Failing to Communicate

Mediation relies heavily on the ability of the parties to communicate.  They must be able to express their underlying interests to the mediator so that he or she can help the parties negotiate possible resolutions of their case.  Additionally, the parties may need to communicate with each other to make an eventual agreement.

Wrong Perceptions

When the parties have the wrong perceptions about the other party, this may create a barrier to resolution.  If they do not believe that the other party is acting in good faith, there will be less incentive for them to do so.

Not Demonstrating Respect

It can be difficult for parties to go from adversaries in a litigated case to cooperative partners.  However, a mediator can establish ground rules that require the mutual display of respect.

Effectively Dealing with Construction Disputes

As a mediator myself, I often advocate for mediation as an effective tool to help resolve construction disputes.  Due to the high number of construction projects throughout the region and the long list of individuals potentially involved in each project, construction disputes are quite common.  Realizing this, many construction companies, contractors, subcontractors and other parties include or request a mediation provision in their contracts.  Others simply suggest it after a problem arises.

Mediation is an alternative to dragging a case out for months or years by having to wait on a trial.  Mediation often helps resolve issues that develop in the construction industry regarding performance or payment.  It is much faster and affordable than litigation.  Mediation also takes into consideration that when a contract is terminated, both parties often pay the price.  New teams may need to be hired for a higher price point while the old one loses out on the expectation of income and possible future projects.

When mediation is entered into voluntarily and in good faith, it can be a positive experience for all parties involved.  More often, parties are able to resolve their issues in a professional manner.  Many construction disputes involve interpersonal and emotional issues.  In court, these issues may not be considered relevant, or the parties’ attorneys may advise their clients not to bring up such information.  However, by addressing these issues, the parties can confront them directly.  This allows them to then focus on how to resolve the current dispute in an amicable fashion.

While a judge can find that one of the parties is the “winner,” the remedies are usually limited.  Often, the party may only receive money damages.  Filing bankruptcy or avoiding payment can make it more difficult for the “winner” to actually win anything.  Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to come up with more creative solutions.  If payment is an issue, the parties may agree to a payment plan.  They can also agree on new deals or exchange services.  The possibilities are only limited to the creativity of the parties and mediator involved.

Even if the parties cannot find an agreeable solution to the current issue, most people feel that mediation is still a valuable process.  A mediator is a person trained in conflict resolution skills.  He or she helps the parties communicate better.  Parties may adapt the skills and techniques demonstrated during mediation.  Additionally, the parties often acquire a better understanding of how the other is thinking.   Even though the parties cannot bring up in court the information discussed during mediation due to confidentiality, the information learned at the mediation can help the parties incorporate a legal strategy that takes this information into consideration.

Additionally, mediation may help the parties develop the skills and respect necessary that may help them settle the case down the road, even if they do not settle on the day of mediation.   Therefore, mediation acts as a win/win for the parties.  If the case is resolved, the parties save the time, money and frustration associated with litigation.  If it is not settled, they still gain valuable insight into the other party’s perspective on the underlying cause of the legal issues.

Construction Mediation in Houston TX Save Clients’ Money and Time

Attorneys are well aware that most clients have little idea as to how much litigation can cost—and how frustrated they become when these costs and expenses begin adding up. Unfortunately, many clients think that attorneys want to make as much money as possible, no matter how it may impact the client. However, by explaining the benefits of construction mediation in Houston Texas, attorneys will alter these clients’ perception of attorneys while saving them time and money in their cases. In fact, attorneys should explain the benefits of construction mediation in Houston Texas early in their cases.

Whether attorneys represent plaintiffs or defendants in construction claims, their clients will save thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs if they mediate and settle their case prior to trial. Defendants will save on the hourly rates they have to pay their attorneys, as the case may be significantly shortened. Both parties will save on the expenses involved with trial preparation, such as hiring experts and preparing exhibits. Plaintiffs may also be able to negotiate a better settlement than they may receive in court for various reasons.

Clients must also be made aware of how long construction cases may take to reach the trial phase. In many jurisdictions, it can take at least a year or two to schedule a trial date. Although many clients demand their day in court, they may change their minds once they realize they may be able to finalize their claims much earlier with construction mediation.

Keeping Client Costs Low with Construction Mediation in Houston TX

Depending on the exact details and nature of your client’s case, construction mediation in Houston Texas may not only be helpful, but a good way to keep client costs lower, especially if the matter is a complex one. Mediation can lead to your client reaching a fair settlement while also avoiding the time and expense of going to court in order to resolve the matter.

In some cases, it may seem that the only way to resolve the disputes involved is to bring the case to court. Bringing a case to court can still be a drain on time and money. However, construction mediation can help prevent this. If the case can be successfully settled outside of court, it will likely save your client time and money in the end and help keep costs low. Mediation can be extremely effective for larger cases in the construction industry by resolving concerns effectively while minimizing time and money spent.

Construction mediation in Houston Texas can, depending on what your client’s case looks like, be a useful tool and be cost effective. If you’re looking to help your client move towards a quick resolution, keep construction mediation on the table.