Construction Law

The Law Offices of O'Connor & Durfield focus primarily on construction defect claims and all phases of construction law


Construction claims are an inevitable risk in the construction industry. Our primary goal is to avoid these risks whenever possible. Should a problem arise, we assist in the defense of construction claims by representing contractors, architects, engineers, and most building professionals with litigation matters arising out of various construction projects claims. These claims typically include;

Breach of Contract – Generally, most construction issues are the result of a breach of contract claim by one or more parties, involving a payment dispute, performance issues by a contractor or sub-contractor, or workmanship claims involving defects in design, materials or defects associated with soil and landslide settlement.

Our goal is to help clients resolve these claims while remaining sensitive to the economic interests of each case. We work closely with clients and outside technical experts to determine the nature of the dispute, the legal liability of each party, and the actions necessary to resolve the client’s claim. When a breach occurs, or is alleged, one or both of the parties may wish to have the terms of contract enforced and recover financial harm caused by the alleged breach. If a dispute arises and good faith efforts fail to resolve the dispute, the most common method used to resolve contract disputes or enforce contracts rights are through lawsuits filed Superior Court. In Arizona, if the amount at issue is below $50,000.00, excluding attorneys’ fees, the parties are generally required to arbitrate their claim. Many contracts include arbitration clauses that tend to accelerate and simplify the claims process.

Adverse parties can also agree to mediation as a way to resolve disputes and avoid costly and time consuming litigation. Arbitration is another avenue that may be equally beneficial to both parties and therefore agree to alternative dispute resolution. When an individual or business breaches a contract, the other party to the agreement is usually entitled to some form of relief or damages. The remedy most often used for a breach of contract are money damages payable to the breaching party. However, there are many kinds of damages awarded in a breach of contract action. These may include:

Compensatory damages are meant to put the non-breaching party in the same position that they would have been if the breach had not occurred.

Punitive damages are meant to punish the breaching party for particularly wrongful acts, and are rarely awarded in the business contracts setting.

Liquidated damages are damages that were identified in the parties contract, in the event of a breach .

Specific Performance. If money damages are inadequate as a legal remedy, the non-breaching party may ask for an alternative remedy called specific performance. Specific performance is generally a court-order requiring the breaching party to do or refrain from doing some specific act. Specific performance may be used as a remedy for breach of contract if the subject matter of the agreement is rare or unique, and damages would not place the non-breaching party in as good a position as they would have been had the breach not occurred.

Cancellation of the Contract. In some cases, the non-breaching party may chose to cancel the contract. This voids the contract and relieves all parties of any obligation under the agreement.
In Arizona an aggravated party in an oral contract must bring a claim against the breaching party in three years. (See A.R.S. §12-543 for more details) A breach of a written contract must be brought within six years. (See A.R.S. §12-548 for more details) Breach of contract claims for the sale of goods (UCC) must be brought in four years. (See A.R.S. §12-544 for more details)

Construction Defects

Concrete CracksLandslide/geotechnical problems – Expansive soil. These conditions lead to cracked foundations, slabs, and damage to the building itself. In some instances, such soil movement may render a structure uninhabitable.

Design deficiencies – Often design professionals such as architects and civil engineers design buildings and systems that may not work or do not work properly. This often results in various types of damage through the house.

Substandard/poor workmanship – Poor workmanship, generally the most common complaint, is often limited to cosmetic aspects of construction but often affects the structural integrity of the building and poses safety concerns as well.

Deficiencies with respect to building materials – It is not uncommon to find building materials that although installed properly, are defective and need replacement. These include windows, roofing material, plumbing, and various other building materials.

Contamination – Buildings that have been shutdown or abandoned may pose a unique set of potential health issues to construction workers and future occupants. These issues must be addressed by the owner or potential buyer and considered along with overall development process. This is particularly true if there was extensive use of chemicals on the site or storage of toxic liquids on the property.

MoldWater intrusion – Water Intrusion is one of the most common causes of mold in buildings. Some of the key problems are sealants, flashings, poor application practices, poor choice of materials and bad detailing in the design of the building. Sealants and waterproofing plays a key role in the integrity of buildings. Moisture engineering controls focus heavily on the main waterproofing of a building. Water intrusion is one of the main contributing factors to building damage, litigation, structural damage, rot termites and microbial problems and other issues that can lead to potential liability for contractors, sub-contractors, and property owners.

As an Arizona legal service provider, we offer construction professionals, and insurance carriers, a cost-effective solution to construction contract disputes and construction defect claims.