Construction Law for Homeowners

20Aug 2017

When you need a construction job completed properly, it is very unlikely that you’re going to want to manage the day to day activities that need to be completed. To get things done right, you’ll need to hire a construction manager to oversee the project. Part of hiring on a construction supervisor or manager is drafting a construction management agreement to ensure everything is handled according to your wishes.

What is a Construction Management Agreement?

Simply put, a construction management agreement is a contract that is signed between a property or project owner, and the construction foreman. It details information about the job in a format that ensures all parties understand their roles and responsibilities for the project in question. These types of agreements are important because they can help avoid confusion, which all too often leads to conflict in projects like these.

What is in a Construction Management Agreement?

This type of agreement will contain a significant amount of information about the project in question, the property owner, the foreman, and much more. Each agreement will be unique, but they should contain the following information:

  • Deadlines – Identifying deadlines for when different milestones within the project must be completed.
  • Wages – The amount available for wages to pay contractors, employees, and others involved in the construction project.
  • Project Specifications – The details of the project. This would include things like the architectural designs, any specific types of materials to be used, and more.
  • Responsibilities of Foreman – Any specific responsibilities that the foreman has to take on.

The level of detail, and the specific things that need to be included will depend largely on the complexity of the project. A small single-family home that needs to be built will not require the same things in the contract as a large multi-million dollar construction project. That being said, anytime a property owner is hiring a construction company or firm to complete a project, it is a good idea to have this type of contract in place. In fact, most construction managers will require one before they can start work.

Get the Help You Need

If you have a construction project coming up and you need a construction management agreement, it is important to work with an attorney experience working on construction contracts. Contact Florida Construction Law Group to talk about your project and see how we can help you draft or review your contracts.

20Jul 2017

Construction companies and contractors are typically able to accept and complete jobs without any significant problems. Unfortunately, disputes related to these types of jobs are all but inevitable when you’ve been in this business for long enough. In many cases, these types of disputes can be resolved through dialogue, mediation, and other resolution techniques. Sometimes, however, they end up going to court to be litigated.

Litigation can be a time-consuming and very costly option, and knowing when a dispute is headed in that direction can help you to better prepare for it. The following signs can be strong indicators that a particular disagreement is going to end up in court.

Only Able to Speak to Other Parties’ Attorney

If the other party begins to tell you that you should be speaking with their attorney, this is one of the most obvious signs that your case is heading to court. While retaining an attorney for a construction dispute is a good idea, it is a bad sign when the other party completely refuses to speak with you without their attorney present.

Unwilling to Compromise

In virtually every construction related dispute, there is room for compromise. If the other party won’t give an inch and is essentially just repeating their demands every time you speak with them, it is likely going to be necessary to litigate the case. In these types of situations, the courts will often force the compromise to take place, so you may be in a strong position.

Poorly Drafted Contracts

Few things can prevent a construction dispute better than a clear, well-written contract. When a contract has all the necessary information, it becomes difficult to have a dispute because all the potential problems have been dealt with ahead of time. Sadly, a large percentage of construction contracts are missing some essential components. A competent lawyer will catch it.

Breakdown in Communications

When a dispute is just starting, both parties are typically willing to talk about the issue and try to work it out. At some point, the other party may stop accepting your phone calls, and be unwilling to meet with you to try to resolve the issues. They may even be trying to ignore the problem until it goes away. If all, or even most, of the communication has stopped, it is likely time to get the courts involved.

Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out to Us

No matter what your dispute is about, we are here to help. Contact FCLG to go over the details of your situation, and get advice on how to best proceed. If your dispute does indeed need to go to court, we will aggressively represent your interests to help you to get the best possible outcome.

20Mar 2017

A mechanic’s lien is fairly simple in concept, but can get complicated in practice. To put it simply, this type of lien helps to provide assurances to the people who are doing the actual work on a job that they will get paid. This is important because many construction companies will perform the work with the agreement that they will get payment once the job is done, or once the project is sold.

A mechanic’s lien kicks in should the firm that is getting the work done is unable to pay, and they go through a liquidation process (often as part of a bankruptcy). When this happens, the mechanic’s lien ensures that qualifying groups and individuals will get paid out first, before all others. This dramatically reduces the risk of non-payment to the construction companies, so they can take on jobs with a higher degree of confidence.

Does Not Apply to Auto Mechanics

One of the most common misconceptions about a mechanic’s lien is that it is the lien that allows mechanics to take possession of a vehicle they have fixed it they have not been paid within a set amount of time. This concept is actually known as an artisan’s lien, and has nothing to do with the mechanic’s lien.

Who Qualifies for a Mechanic’s Lien?

There are many groups of people who will qualify for a mechanic’s lien. Whether for a new construction project, improvement work, or most any other job related to the construction field, the following people will likely be covered by a mechanic’s lien:

  • Laborers – Those who are performing the on the site work. This includes carpenters, laborers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors, and others.
  • Lumber Yards – As one of the main sub-contracted groups involved in most construction jobs, lumber yards will typically qualify for the mechanic’s lien.
  • Architects – The architect (and, if applicable, civil engineers) who worked on the plans related to the job.
  • Off-Site Fabricators – Those who create items specifically for the job may qualify for the mechanic’s lien.

Length of a Mechanic’s Lien

A mechanic’s lien will typically remain in effect until those protected by the lien are paid in full. This typically occurs once the construction project is completed, but it may extend further depending on the situation.

Enforce Your Mechanic’s Lien

If you have performed supplies, labor, or something else to a construction project and have not been paid, you may be able to enforce the mechanic’s lien. It is important to act quickly, however, as companies that are going through bankruptcy or liquidation often have many different creditors trying to get as much out of them as possible. Florida Construction Law Group [Link to CONTACT US page] has years of experience working with mechanic’s liens, and we would be happy to represent you throughout the process.

20Jan 2017

Construction projects can be extremely costly and complex, which is why it is important to have everything in order before anything is started. Customers and construction companies should also keep in close contact throughout the job to ensure there aren’t any miscommunications. Once a project is finished, both construction companies and those who hire them often think that everything is set, but that is not the case.

Before a job can be considered finalized, a notice of acceptance must be sent to the construction company. This notice essentially lets the construction company know that the job has been completed and the contract has been deemed fulfilled.

When to Send a Notice of Acceptance

A notice of acceptance should be sent only after a job has been completed and properly inspected. If there are any issues with the job itself, they need to be fixed before a notice of acceptance should be issued. If an individual or company issues a notice of acceptance prior to completing inspections and they then find something wrong, the construction company would not be obligated to fix the issue as part of the original contract.

What Is Included with a Notice of Acceptance?

A notice of acceptance should include the construction number and the proper wording to confirm that the job has been completed. It should also verify that all needed quality control checks have been performed. Along with this notice should be a copy of the quality control checklist that identifies everything that has been inspected on the project. If there were any additional tasks or corrections that the construction company had to perform, the inspections on those items should be included as well.

Why Is a Notice of Acceptance Required?

The notice of acceptance provides legal proof that the contract for the construction job has been completed to the satisfaction of everyone involved. If someone attempts to sue the construction company for something related to the construction job after this notice of acceptance, the courts will be very hesitant to rule in their favor. This also allows construction companies to be able to have a firm end date for each contract, which makes planning and budgeting much easier.

Sending & Receiving Notice of Acceptance

Whether you operate a construction company or you’ve got a contract with a construction company, it is important to send or receive notice of acceptance documents properly in accordance with the law. Having an attorney write up the notice and confirm acceptance is very important. Florida Construction Law Group has years of experience helping both contractors and customers, so contact us to discuss this type of notice today.

20Nov 2016

Whether building a small home or a skyscraper, construction projects are always very complex. They involve multiple parties, including the architect, the construction company, sub-contractors, the customer, and many others. With all these different parties working on a single project, it is really surprising that disputes aren’t more common than they are.

Years ago, most serious construction disputes would end up in court. This was very expensive and costly, and even had the potential to disrupt the construction process enough that it would never be completed. In recent years, however, more construction disputes have been turning to mediation to solve disputes. This is because of some of the incredible success that this type of conflict resolution has had in just about every type of dispute.

Required or Optional Mediation

Mediation has become so successful that some construction contracts are being written to include a requirement that all disputes go through mediation before the courts are involved. Even when this is not the case, however, the parties in dispute can agree to come to the table and use mediation to attempt to solve the problem.

Bringing Everyone Together

The goal of a mediator is not to help find the winners and the losers in a conflict (which is what the courts do). Instead, the mediator is trying to find solutions to problems, which will maximize the benefit to everyone involved. With this focus, the mediator will bring the parties together and help guide the conversation toward ideas that are mutually beneficial.

Accepting Sacrifices

In many disputes, the hardest thing for the parties to do is compromise in a way that doesn’t work out in their favor. A mediator can help everyone realize, however, that if all sides are able to give in a little bit, they can avoid costly court battles and the possibility that the entire project will be lost. In the end, mediators are often able to help convince all parties to accept less than they would have desired in order to keep the construction project moving forward.

Learn More about Construction Mediation

Having an attorney who is dedicated to construction law working as a mediator can help bring a lot of insight into the process. If you are having a conflict about a construction project or you would like help in avoiding these types of conflicts, please contact FCLG today. We’ll be more than happy to work with you to find creative solutions to construction conflicts throughout Florida.

05Aug 2015

Unlicensed contracting is a crime in Florida. Section 768.0425 provides that a consumer (typically a homeowner) harmed by an unlicensed contractor is entitled to treble damages and attorney’s fees.

In Home Construction Management, a general contractor sought the civil remedies under §768.0425 against its subcontractor for disgorgement and treble damages. Home Construction Management, LLC v. Comet, Inc. 125 So.3d 221 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013).  The general contractor alleged that the subcontractor was unlicensed where the scope of labor required licensing and was thus harmed by the overcharges that had been paid to the subcontractor. The court held that the subcontractor was guilty of unlicensed contracting and ordered treble damages and attorney’s fees.

General contractors should be aware of this law as it can be used against unlicensed subcontractors to obtain an award of treble damages and attorney’s fees. Subcontractors, and any unlicensed contractor, should also be aware of the punitive damages, as well as criminal penalties they may face for committing unlicensed contracting in Florida.

Ray Garcia, Esq.

www.floridaconstructionlawgroup.com

18Sep 2014

Florida contractors have developed a reputation for have suspect business practices such not completing jobs properly, using inferior quality products and overcharging for works or sub contracting work off to less reputable individuals. Here are some tips that may help you in avoiding being taken advantage of by a contractor.

1. Obtain Multiple Estimates. Contractors will often provide you a low estimate to get the job. Then, as the work progresses they will upsell you on products and services such change orders. Always get a very detailed estimate that includes the cost for materials, labor, fees and the contractor’s profit margin.

2. Create a progress payment schedule. A progress payment schedule incentivizes the contractor in continuing to working on the project. Avoid paying large upfront deposits that incorporates immediate profits. Schedule the payment whereby the contractor receive payment after completing portions of the work.

3. Ask the contractor for references. Find out from others or the contractor himself individuals who have used the contractor in the past. Then, ask those individuals how they heard about the contractor. Ask if you can visit the job to inspect the quality of the work and products used on the job.

4. License Status.  Contact the department of Business and Professional Regulation to see if the contractor’s license is in good standing or the contractor has received complaints from other consumers. Additionally, ask for a copy of the contractor’s insurance policy.

Ray Garcia, Esq.

Board Certified in Real Estate Law

by the Florida Bar

www.Floridaconstructionlawgroup.com