The development of appropriate strategies for the prevention of construction disputes in Ghana

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The rising cost, delay and the risk of legal action in construction disputes prompted the construction industry in countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and the United States of America (USA) to look for efficient ways to prevent and manage these construction disputes. This is because, as construction projects become increasingly complex due to the complex set of contract documents governing parties, cost increases, margins tightens and clients expect perfection in the contractor’s performance.The likelihood of disputes arising, therefore increases, with their resolution becoming very expensive in terms of time, personnel, finances, project delays and opportunity cost. Prevention of disputes therefore can eliminate unnecessary costs, delays; strained relationships among members of different parties involved and finally save time. In Ghana, there has been lack of studies on construction disputes prevention. This study therefore aimed at developing appropriate strategies for dispute prevention on construction projects found in Ghana. The success in preventing disputes requires knowledge of the circumstances that could lead to a dispute and the knowledge and ability to take an action when a dispute occurs. Hence the research sought to identify, evaluate and rank the most important, and frequent factors responsible for disputes on construction projects from the view point of clients, contractors and consultants in Ghana and to identify and further develop appropriate strategies for disputes prevention in Ghana. The thesis begins with a review of the literature on the nature of the construction industry, what construction disputes are, their causes and ways of preventing them. The literature search established fifty six (56) probable causes of construction disputes. The research comprised a questionnaire survey supplemented with interviews with clients, consultants and contractors (mainly D1) with the aim of identifying causes of construction disputes and the best ways of preventing these causes of construction disputes as early as possible in Ghana. The data so gathered were analysed by the use of relative importance index, frequency index, Kendall’s concordance testing, and the significant testing. Based on the analysed data, the survey identified thirty (23) out of the fifty six (56) factors gathered from literature, as the most significant factors which really cause construction disputes in Ghana. The survey concluded that, indeed, problems such as construction disputes will naturally arise on construction projects and therefore should be a cause of concern in every project. As a result of this, the information obtained, provided guidance for strategies to be developed within the research to provide project leaders and all other stakeholders with a better approach for construction dispute prevention. These strategies were as follows: • Making sure everyone gets paid; • The early involvement of all stakeholders during the design phase of the project; • Adequate contract documentation; • Communicating problems or claims at the earliest opportunity and not ignoring problems as and when they occur; • Proper records keeping; and • Training of all who matter in executing the project.
A project report presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Degree of Master Of Science in Construction Management.