Arbitration is playing an increasing role in settling construction disputes. Arbitration often settles a construction dispute faster and at less cost than going to court. Arbitrated construction hearings usually involve two parties who are having a contract dispute and an arbitrator they jointly chose to resolve the dispute. The American Arbitration Association (AAA), a nonprofit organization founded in 1926, operates from more than 30 offices nationwide to help resolve more than 46,000 disputes annually.

The average time to process a construction arbitration case from filing to award was 192 days in 1986. This is in contrast with the 2- to 3-year wait you can expect before your case is even called to trial in court. Arbitration moves so quickly partly because "discovery" is not allowed. Only the documents in the possession or control of the other party are permitted for inspection. Decisions reached by arbitration are final. This also speeds the process because cases cannot be retried after the award decision is made.