“Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia’ – but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.’”
Vizzini forgot to include “never fight a two-front war with your owner and a subcontractor” on his list of classic blunders, but it certainly belongs there. This article examines practical tips and tricks for general contractors to avoid the classic blunder of a two-front war, including recommended contract provisions and sound project documentation practices.
Admittedly, general contractors face a wide array of obligations on a project. And perhaps one of the most delicate balancing acts is managing relationships with the owner and your subcontractors. But far too often general contractors find themselves in the difficult position of fighting a two-front war against one (or more) of their subcontractors and the project owner.
But this does not always have to be the case—there are ways for general contractors to reduce the risk of finding themselves in a two-front war. And every project does not have to devolve in a circular firing squad with you in the middle. That said, this article comes with the caveat that a general contractor cannot avoid a two-front war in every instance, nor does this article examine every imaginable way to reduce the risk of a two-front war (see e.g. https://www.consensusdocs.org/pass-through-subcontractor-claims-liquidat...). But this article will provide an overview of several key tools that can be used to minimize the risk of falling into a classic blunder.