Executive Vice President, Blitman Construction Corporation, New York City. This article is based upon an address delivered at a construction industry arbitration conference of the American Arbitration Association's Educational Services Department.
To understand the causes of construction contract disputes, it is necessary to understand the roles of the various parties involved and how those roles contribute to the creation of controversy. Similarly, it is necessary to analyze the realities, timeliness, and reasonableness of the various instruments used to bind the parties together, which in all probability, if more prudently prepared, exercised and interpreted would lead to significantly less controversy and far more productive, cooperative effort.
Far too often today, the initial and usually prevailing attitude on both private and public works is the "antagonist" approach rather than the productive "teamwork" attitude which should prevail. Too often the architect or resident engineer presents a lofty or completely diametric and sometimes even hostile attitude toward the contractor from the very onset of the project. The cause of friction is thus instantaneously sparked and remains throughout the project. Without involving oneself too deeply in the psychiatrics that may exist, it is time that the architect-engineer team and the contractor recognize that they are equals and not adversaries, that the contractor is not a devious, unscrupulous, unprofessional roughneck, any more than the architect-engineer is a moral, scrupulous, all-knowing ego above question, criticism or reproach.