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Stop Work Orders: What Are They, And How To Deal With Them


The point of most construction projects is to finish the job, and to do so as quickly as possible, while maintaining quality and contractual standards. That’s why it may seem a bit odd that many construction contracts have provisions that allow and often require the contractor to actually stop working on the project.

Stop Work Orders

These are called stop work orders. A stop work order requires that construction on a project cease, in the event that there is a dispute between the parties. The work must be stopped, until a resolution to the dispute is reached.

Stop work orders can also be issued from the government, such as when a project is not properly permitted, or where there is some other situation (such as a pandemic) that requires that work on a project stop. The government can issue a stop work order when a party isn’t complying with OSHA safety regulations, workers compensation laws, or when the construction site is simply hazardous for some reason.

When used privately (between two parties, and not issued by the government), stop work orders are used to avoid litigation later on. If the parties have an argument over how a job should be completed, it is better to stop and resolve the issue, than for the contractor to complete the project, guaranteeing litigation, and a costly fix, repair, or damage award later on.

What to Do When a Stop Work Order is Issued

If a stop work order is issued by the government, the first step is to stop working, until such time as you can investigate the reason for the stop work order. Of course, if it is legitimate–like if there is a safety violation–the problem should be immediately remedied.

In some cases, you may only have to stop some work, but not all, on the construction project. Or, you may not have to stop work immediately. These are questions to discuss with a  construction law attorney. Despite the fact that you disagree with the stop work order–and you may be right–you should not blatantly disregard or ignore a stop work order.

Depending on whether you are the owner or the contractor, you may want to make a decision whether complete termination of the contract is warranted based on the stop work order. If the stop work order is contractual, between the owner and contractor, the parties should set some ground rules as to how the matter will be resolved, when work should be stopped, and when work can resume.

Although you are winding down temporarily, you should have a plan to immediately start again, in anticipation of the matter being resolved, or the stop work order issued by the government being lifted.

Problems on your construction site? We can help. Call our Fort Lauderdale construction attorneys at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954 440-3993 with your construction law problems or questions.



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