It is almost inevitable that during the course of construction there will be a dispute concerning the interpretation of inconsistencies and ambiguities in the contract, plans, conditions and/or specifications. Basically, an ambiguous provision is a clause which can reasonably be read in more than one way. Conflicting provisions exist where the provisions cannot both be complied with coincidently.
Although a well-drafted contract will include/set forth the precedence of interpretation, if the contract does not include a clause that aids in the interpretation of disputes concerning the contract terms, the parties maybe able to turn to the interpretation rules that have been by enacted by the Legislature. These statutes can be found starting at section 1635 of the California Civil Code. They set out rules of interpretation were enacted as early as 1872.
James G. Zack, Jr.
Navigant Construction Forum,
Navigant Consulting, Inc.