Avoiding litigation for construction defects is much easier than dealing with it. While you cannot account for all circumstances, there are various steps you can take to reduce the likelihood that you face a lawsuit in years to come:

Do your homework: While a contract is a legal document, business is done by people. Do you want to take on work for someone who has a history of suing their contractors? Research can show you whom to avoid doing business with and help you avoid future litigation problems.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver: A famous commercial for varnish used to say, “Does what it says on the tin.” Only commit to what you know you can do. When you exceed expectations, the customer will be delighted. The problems come when your inner salesman escapes, and you promise unrealistic things to a client. You are setting your client up for disappointment and setting yourself up for a lawsuit.

Put everything in writing: Clear documentation can help both sides remember what was and was not said or promised. It can avoid confusion or misunderstandings and can act as valuable evidence. While face-to-face meetings and phone calls can be a wonderful way to do business, they do not provide you with a paper trail to protect you. If you agree on something verbally, put it in an email straight after.

Hire carefully and supervise: If you sign a contract to carry out work for someone, you have to answer for any defects. Choosing workers you trust, even if they cost more, may turn out to be more cost-effective in the long run. It is your responsibility to carry out ongoing checks as work proceeds.

Be humble when needed: If you have made a mistake, and there is, indeed, a defect in the work you carried out, accepting your mistakes and putting it right may be all that is needed to resolve the situation and avoid costly litigation.

If despite your best efforts, you are facing a construction defect lawsuit, seeking prompt legal advice may help you to diffuse the situation and avoid going to court.