Purpose While a considerable amount of research has been conducted on construction disputes, disputes remain prevalent in the construction industry and have still been a crucial problem in the Turkish construction industry as well. The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions of different stakeholders on key factors that contribute to construction disputes by adopting a qualitative approach. Design/methodology/approach The qualitative approach adopted for the study provided gathering in-depth and rich information about the topic. To explore the phenomenon in-depth information, semi-structured interviews were conducted. A total of 38 interviews were conducted among experts and practitioners who engaged in construction disputes. Findings Content analysis of interview data resulted in the emergence of varying categories relevant to the problems which result in construction disputes. By grouping related themes into main categories, the analysis yielded five major ones: clarity of the contract form, errors in contract documents, payments, changes, delays and not granting extension of time. Research limitations/implications The major limitations are having interviewees from one country and results limited to the Turkish construction industry. Practical implications The findings provide insight on the factors contributing to construction disputes as perceived by different stakeholders, which should provide guidance to determine the associated risks for dispute occurrence, make effort to mitigate disputes once they happen, take proper precautions for minimizing the effects and after all make a significant contribution in the successful accomplishment of completed construction projects. Originality/value The findings of the study contribute to a deeper understanding of the factors contributing to construction disputes through a qualitative approach which is limited in the related literature. Although the qualitative exploration only focuses on the Turkish construction industry, the study has added significantly to the body of knowledge within the subject area.