NYC Construction Contract Termination Lawyer

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Terminating a construction contract carries significant legal, financial, and operational implications for the property owner and the contractor. It is a step typically taken when one party believes the contract terms have been breached or are unlikely to be fulfilled.

The process and consequences of terminating a contract are determined by the contract terms, applicable laws, and the specific circumstances leading to termination. As such, it is critical for both parties to seek professional guidance before making any decisions.

Defective work, delays, fraudulent activity, and contract breaches are common scenarios that lead to termination. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s crucial to consult a construction attorney before terminating a contract. Richman Law Firm PLLC represents clients in various construction litigation services. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Termination for Cause

This term refers to a situation where owners, contractors, subcontractors, architects, or engineers fail to fulfill contractual obligations, leading the other party to terminate the contract. This can occur for various reasons:

Defective Work

One of the most common reasons for terminating a contract is defective work. Defective work occurs when the contractor fails to meet the standards outlined in the contract, uses substandard materials, or doesn’t adhere to building codes and regulations. Defective work can range from minor defects that are easily remedied to major structural problems that compromise the integrity of the construction project.


Another common reason for termination is significant delays in the project’s completion. While some delays are inevitable in New York construction, chronic or unreasonable delays that affect the project timeline can lead to termination.

The contract typically specifies what constitutes a delay and the remedies available. If the delay is deemed inexcusable, the property owner may have the right to terminate the contract. However, before proceeding with termination, it is essential to review the contract’s provisions regarding delays and consult a construction litigation attorney.

Fraudulent Activity & Construction Contracts

Fraudulent activity or misrepresentation by a contractor can be grounds for contract termination. This can include dishonesty about qualifications, misrepresenting costs, or falsifying progress reports. In such cases, the aggrieved party is entitled to terminate the contract and may seek damages.

Construction contract fraud can range from fabricating qualifications or resources to intentionally underestimating costs. When fraudulent activity is discovered, it undermines the trust between the parties and can serve as a valid ground for termination for cause. Gathering evidence and seeking legal counsel is necessary if you suspect fraudulent behavior.

Breach of Contract

A breach of contract occurs when one party fails to fulfill obligations outlined in a contract, including failure to complete work on time, not adhering to the project budget, or failing to meet quality standards. In such cases, the aggrieved party may be able to terminate the contract.

In the aftermath of a contract breach, the non-breaching party may seek legal remedies such as damages or enforcement of specific performance according to the contract terms.

It’s important to note that wrongful contract termination carries significant consequences, including liability for breach of contract and possible compensation to the non-terminating party under New York construction law.

Termination for Convenience

Termination for convenience is another common reason for ending a contract. The owner initiates such a termination, which can occur even if the contractor has not breached any contract terms. The reasons can vary:

Changes in the Project Scope

The scope of a construction project can change for design modifications, changes in building codes, or changes in the owner’s needs or financial situation. If these changes are significant enough, they may lead to a termination for convenience. The original contract may no longer be suitable or viable under the new scope, and a fresh agreement may need to be negotiated to accommodate these changes.

Funding Issues

In some cases, financial issues may prevent the project from continuing. This could be due to changes in funding circumstances, a lack of investor support, or unforeseen costs. In such cases, the owner may terminate the contract for convenience. However, this usually involves compensating the contractor and other involved parties for work already completed and possibly for anticipated profits on unperformed work.

Unforeseen Liabilities

Unforeseen liabilities can arise during a construction project that may make it necessary to terminate the contract. These can include unexpected environmental issues, the discovery of hazardous conditions, or significant structural problems that were not apparent as the project started. These unforeseen liabilities can drastically increase the cost or time required to complete the project, making termination for convenience a viable option.

Before Terminating a Contract

Before deciding to terminate a contract, you should take several steps to protect your interests and minimize potential legal disputes. These steps can help you build a strong case if the termination leads to litigation.

Document What You Can

Documentation is crucial in any legal matter, and contract termination is no exception. Gather all relevant documents, including the original contract, invoices, receipts, and progress reports. Also, document specific instances of breaches or non-performance with dates, details, and supporting evidence.

Evaluate How Much of the Work Has Been Completed

Understanding the extent of the work completed before termination helps determine the compensation owed to the contractor for work already done and materials already purchased. It also helps assess whether continuing with the current contractor is more beneficial than seeking a new one.

Consult a Construction Attorney

Before deciding to terminate a contract, seek a NYC construction attorney. A skilled legal professional should provide valuable guidance and help you understand possible legal and financial implications of contract severance. They might also review your contract, assess the situation, and advise on the best course of action.

Terminating a contract involves steps that must be carefully followed to avoid wrongful termination. For instance, providing contractors with written notice before terminating a contract is fundamental at this stage.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you’re considering terminating a construction contract, seek professional legal advice. Richman Law Firm PLLC helps clients evaluate their options and navigate the termination of construction contracts. Whether you’re dealing with defective work, delays, fraudulent activity, or other issues leading to contract termination in New York City, contact us today for a free consultation.


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    Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines. ​

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