Kathleen M.J. Harmon holds a Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University. She is President of Harmon/York Associates, a 32-year old construction consulting firm located in Ridgefield Park, N.J.
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God’s creation of the world in seven days is the oldest constructionproject and a miracle of efficiency. However, construction projectsundertaken by mere mortals tell a quite different story. Most cannot becompleted without lots of paperwork and the involvement of numerousparties with different agendas and financial restraints. By and large,construction projects are a breeding ground for disputes of all kinds.They result from many factors, including among other things, unfairallocation of risk, multiple prime contracts, unrealistic expectations andschedules, poorly prepared contract documents, financial issues,communication problems, and even the economy.
The construction industry has been on the forefront of the alternativedispute resolution movement. The recent trend is to look for methods ofresolving disputes other than traditional processes (such as litigation,arbitration and mediation), which typically begin after the conflict hasescalated and the parties’ positions have hardened. One of these methodsis the dispute review board (DRB sometimes also called a dispute