A Breach of contract is when one party has violated some part of the agreed-upon terms and conditions to a binding contract. The breach itself could entail a number of things from non-payment to failure to perform. To illustrate, here is a very simple example of a breach of contract: Let’s say you want to have your home’s bathroom reconstructed. You hire a couple of contractors, gather materials, create a schedule, and start making payments for work to begin. Work continues smoothly for the first couple of weeks, but then contractors suddenly stop showing up. At this point, a lot of work has been performed towards your project but it is still incomplete per the terms of the contract. The contractors could then be held in breach of contract and you would, hypothetically, have a breach of contract claim.
Establishing a breach in contract within construction contracts is not as clear-cut as stated in the above “home bathroom project” example. These contracts will require thorough examination. It is always wise to consult an experienced construction law attorney. The Houston construction law attorneys at Guerra | Days Law Group will help you through the steps within construction contracts and ultimately, find a solution.
Types of Breach of Contracts
A breach of contract can come in three (3) variations:
A material breach is one that is significant enough, allowing the injured party the right to sue as well as the right to be excused from the remainder of their contractual obligations.
Example: We have a buyer and a seller of rare items. The seller makes a deal with the buyer to sell one of his rare items. Buyer pays the seller but the seller does not ship the rare item to the buyer, instead the seller ships it to another. This would be considered a material (significant enough) breach which would give the original buyer grounds to sue.
A partial breach is one that is not as significant as a material breach and typically will not excuse the injured party from the remainder of their contractual obligations.
Example: We have a landlord and a tenant. According to the signed lease (contract), the landlord has agreed to provide a fully furnished apartment with the details of the types of furniture stated. Let’s say once the tenant moved in, he sees the landlord failed to provide a bed. This would be considered a partial breach; it does not excuse either party from not performing, instead, the terms of the contract can be altered until the party in breach fixes his mistake. In this case, the landlord could lower the rent until he provides the tenant with a bed.
An anticipatory breach is one in which one party suspects the offending party might breach by indicating their intention to not perform either by doing or failing to do something.
Example: Let’s use the “home bathroom project.” If you have contractors who are supposed to work on your bathroom but a couple weeks in, your contractor decides to stop all work. You realize this action would make it impossible for the contractor meet the deadline. You then find out your contractor has committed himself to another project and is putting all his time and resources into the new project instead. This would constitute an anticipatory breach and give you a breach of contract claim.
Breach in Construction Contracts
Breach in construction contracts come in many variants. The three (3) most common causes for breach in construction contracts are:
Issues arising over the quality in workmanship is a natural occurrence in the construction industry. Construction contracts will state the type and quality of workmanship expected and a deviation from the terms could potentially lead to a breach; usually a partial breach since the error is usually minor and can be easily fixed.
Construction work requires a lot of time and effort and must take other several variables into consideration when drafting a contract. It requires the completion of various steps before the next one can begin; and due to the design of the construction industry, establishing a schedule becomes imperative. Contractors will often fall behind but it might not necessarily constitute breach. Breach will depend on the terms stated in the contract.
Failure to Perform
The “home bathroom project” is an example of a failure to perform: failing to perform in accordance with the terms of the contract. Once again, construction is a long process because many things depend upon the another. If a party simple fails to perform, it can cause irreparable damage which can lead to a material breach.
Breach of Contract Claim & Guerra | Days Law Group
Understanding the terms of a contract and then understanding what it means to be in violation, or in breach, of a contract go hand-in-hand. Yet, it is also complicated at times. At Guerra | Days Law Group, our qualified Houston construction law attorneys know the language of the industry; we will guide you through the complicated legal jargon and find the remedy to fit your legal needs. If you are unsure whether you have a construction contract claim, don’t hesitate to call us and ask today! Our firm offers free consultations.