28Mar 2020

One of the most powerful and effective ways parties may ensure payment on work completed for a construction project is by filing a mechanic’s, or construction, lien on a piece of real property. Contractors and subcontractors are frequent users of this tool, as well as material suppliers, architects, and engineers. We have outlined the general steps you need to take in order to file a valid and effective construction lien below, as well as some extra considerations you need to take into account as you navigate the process. 

Step 1: Provide a Notice to Owner (for certain parties). Depending on your contractual relationship with the project owner, you might be required to serve a Notice to Owner (NTO) before filing an actual lien. Subcontractors and material suppliers commonly fall under this category. Due to the strict statute of limitations for filing this, many subcontractors (and even contractors) provide an NTO the same day work begins. 

Step 2: Ensure you have the right paperwork and are planning to file the lien in the correct jurisdiction within the required time frame. As with the NTO, there is a strict time limit for when construction liens must be filed. In Florida, they must be filed no later than 90 days after the final work has been done on the project. You must also make sure you have standing to file a lien; for example, contractors and subcontractors must be licensed to practice in Florida. If any of these conditions are not met, you will likely not be able to file a valid construction lien. 

Step 3: After you have completed the required paperwork and recorded the needed information, you are ready to file. Florida Statute Section 713 lays out the information that must be recorded on the lien. Once you are sure that it is complete, have the form notarized. You may officially file the lien in person at a county clerk’s office, by mail, or electronically. If you plan to file in person, bring along two copies of the lien. 

Step 4: Serve the property owner with the lien. A rule of thumb is to serve the owner with the construction lien before you record it with the county clerk. If you record it with the clerk first, you have only 15 days to serve it to the owner. As with other aspects of filing a lien, there are certain requirements for the lien to be considered effectively served. 


After you have filed and served the construction lien with all relevant parties, your next actions will determine whether or not you receive payment for services rendered or materials provided. If you are paid, then you are required to release the lien. If not, then you must foreclose on the lien. Both actions must occur within a certain period of time. Florida Construction Law Group would be honored to help you with filing a lien and receiving payment for your hard work. Please get in touch with us today through our website or by calling 305-227-4030.

25Feb 2020

In Part 1 of our series on project bidding, we discussed bidding on public construction projects and some unique aspects of those kinds of projects. Once again, many concepts are pertinent for both types, but there are some key ways that private (non-governmental) construction projects differ from public ones. You will find that in many ways, bidding on private construction projects is less onerous and constricting than it is with its public counterpart. 

Whereas public construction owners (usually the municipal, state, or federal government) usually seek the lowest price from a selection of qualified contractors, private construction owners are under no legal obligation to seek any specific price range from bidders. Government entities are required to solicit bids through local newspapers to further ensure that bids coming through are at the lowest reasonable prices. 

Conversely, private bids are often awarded to contractors who have solid reputations and are therefore unlikely to have to scour publications to find work. As important as it is to network as a contractor no matter the types of projects you are seeking, personal connections to owners and developers will go a long way in winning bids for private projects. If you personally go above and beyond to make sure the work performed is satisfactory, you might get recommended for future projects. 

One advantage of private projects is that you may work on multiple projects at one time (if you have the capacity). Often, contractors who are locked in to a contract with a public entity are legally forbidden from concurrently working on other endeavors. 

Protection for Contractors

A major benefit for prime contractors is that unlike in public construction projects, they are free to claim a mechanic’s lien on a private property. This tool, which is an interest on a piece of property, is filed by contractors as a way to ensure payment. Public projects allow ways for contractors to get payment in the event of an issue, but the process for that is more complex than with a private project. 

Similarities to Public Projects

Both types of construction projects will see the dissemination of procurement documents to qualified contractors. Contractors will want to attend a meeting with the project owner or developer and survey the site before submitting a final, sealed bid.


Private construction projects provide for a greater amount of flexibility for all parties. Generally, private projects flow more smoothly for contractors, as there is far less red tape to work around than with public projects. If you are seeking legal clarification for any construction issue, please reach out to Florida Construction Law Group today and we will be happy to speak with you further. 

20Jan 2020

They sometimes go by different names, but draw schedules are the detailed payment plan agreed to by the construction project owner, builder, and contractor. It will specify when specific payment allotments will be paid to the contractor and lay out the requirements for exchanging the scheduled funds. If the owner is being funded by a bank or other lending institution, the draw schedule will be put forth by that financial institution. 

Common Draw Points

No two construction projects are the same, and so goes draw schedules. The size, type of funding entity, location, and desired timetable for completion are all factors to consider when drafting a draw schedule. Common sense would tell you that a draw schedule for a one-story house would be much simpler than a transnational corporation’s new headquarters. 

A typical draw schedule for a custom-built house will usually have 5-7 points of draw throughout construction. The different points could be at benchmarks such as having 20 percent of the project completed, then 40 percent, then 60 percent, and so on. The other common way to distribute points is to place them at intervals that a significant feature is completed, like HVAC installation, water and sewer connections, laying the foundation, etc. 

Who Should Look at a Draw Schedule

The more parties involved in a construction project, the more people you will have negotiating the draw schedule. Except in cases in which a bank wants to propose its own standard draw schedule, the contractor will usually be the first to propose the draw schedule. After that, the relevant parties will negotiate until an agreement has been made. The owner or developer will usually send an independent appraiser to look over the proposal. Unless you have complete faith in the contractor you are working with, a third party should always scrutinize the proposed draw schedule. 

Importance of Draw Schedules

Draw schedules are designed to ease the tension between construction project owners and the contractors doing the actual work. A contractor’s worst nightmare is completing an entire project and then getting stiffed when the invoice is finally sent. On the other hand, owners are wary of shelling out money for work that may turn out to be incorrect or incomplete, or not done at all. 

Draw schedules and other legally binding documents that are considered at the outset of a project can make all the difference between successful construction and a disaster. If you are embarking on a project and want assurance that it is on solid ground, give us a call today at (305) 227-4030.

20Dec 2019

Unique Nature of Public Projects

If you are like most contractors, you likely keep your business’s lights on through a mix of public and private construction projects. While many of the concepts are consistent among the two types, this post will focus on public projects. When you submit a bid for a public project, you will be dealing with a government agency. Part two, coming next month, will cover private contracts. 

When a municipal, county, state, or federal government requires construction or remodel of a structure, the solicitation for bids must appear publicly for a certain amount of time while qualified contractors (or developers) submit bids. In the meantime, of course, you will procure necessary documents from the public entity to assess the project and come up with a price. However, it is possible you will get enough pertinent information from the solicitation alone.

Keep in mind that public construction projects must be a sufficiently competitive process, as officials want to be good stewards of taxpayer money. Tax revenue might be the most obvious source of compensation for you during a public construction project, but the public party might seek to compensate you with publicly issued bonds. Generally, the lowest responsible bid will be awarded the public contract, but don’t place a bid that’s too low and loses you money.

Florida Laws

Section 255.20 of the Florida Statutes provides the legal framework through which public bidding may proceed. The section lays out the maximum prices for which certain public projects may avoid the competitive bidding process. For example, electrical work estimated to cost more than $75,000 must go through the process. With constructing or remodeling a public structure, the estimated price tag of competitively awarded bids starts at $300,000. 

Federal Projects

Construction bids for federal structures must go through the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). As with other public entities needing construction work on a public building, sealed bids are submitted after a federally mandated amount of time has passed since the solicitation was published. Just as municipalities and counties must competitively award contracts to projects estimated over a certain amount of money, the Miller Act (Title 40 in the United States Code) regulates federal construction projects estimated at $100,000 or more.

Part 1 Conclusion

The added formalities of public construction projects can make for a longer and more complicated process than bidding for private projects. Next month’s blog will explain some notable similarities and differences between public and private bidding processes. If, in the meantime, you need any clarification on a bid or potential bid, give us a call at (305) 223-9811 and we can give you experienced legal counsel on your contracting issue.

11Nov 2019

The last thing you want to deal with after years of waiting for your brick-and-mortar store to finally open is a structural problem. Many problems, legally recognized as construction defects, are obvious, like an improperly installed window (you occasionally feel a draft). These defects are referred to as patent defects and are usually quick, inexpensive fixes. 

However, some defects take time to present themselves, such as leaks that cause internal moisture to build up (that better not be mold you’re smelling!). These insidious defects are classified as latent.

Whether patent or latent, there are three common categories construction defects typically fall into.

1. Workmanship Defects

Defects in this category are the result of shoddy labor during construction. The common phrase, “a poor workman blames his tools,” might come to mind in this situation. As long as the materials used in the building of the structure aren’t flawed and the design plans are determined to be solid, then defects are almost always to be blamed on the construction process. 

2. Material Defects

When the builders are not at fault, you should look to the raw materials that comprise your building. Material defects can be patent, such as flawed roof materials that allow leaks when the first rainstorm comes, or latent, like metal fixtures that prematurely corrode or rust. Builders may unknowingly use defective materials. Sometimes, however, they are aware of faulty materials and will not say anything to cut costs and corners. In this case, you could (and should) pursue a claim against the laborers. 

3. Design Defects

Sometimes, construction defects can be due to flawed blueprints or design plans. Certain regulations and codes often guide the creation of structural designs, so there are certain assurances afforded to owners during the design process. Design flaws due to actual malice on the part of engineers or architects are extremely rare. The error of omission is almost always to blame when it comes to design flaws.


Construction defects lower the value of your structure and, more importantly, pose a physical threat to you and others who use the building. This was a rampant issue with homes built right before the 2008 housing crisis when developers rushed to meet demand from homeowners. Florida was ground zero for the crisis. 

If you think your structure might have a defect that was incurred during the design, construction, or material selection stage of the building process, we are eager to help you find stability in your living situation. Call us at (305) 223-9811 to get the relief you deserve.

20Oct 2019

In a construction contract it is not uncommon for consequential damages (also known as special damages) to be mentioned, or even asked to be waived. Understanding what consequential damages are will help you to determine what action to take in regard to a specific contract. It will also help you to know what legal rights you have in the event that you experience consequential damages or are sued because of them. 

What are Consequential Damages?

Consequential damages are anything that costs money indirectly due to another party failing to meet their obligations on the project in question. In most cases, this would be due to the third party breaching their contract. In order to be considered consequential damages, they must be able to be linked to the action of another party in a reasonable way.

Examples of Consequential Damages

There are many ways that someone can experience consequential damages, and looking at examples can help to better understand what they are. The following are among the most common examples in the construction industry:

  • Loss of Use – If a contractor starts a construction job, but then abandons the project, a property owner may be unable to use the property until a new contractor can be found.
  • Increased Material Costs – When a supplier fails to meet their obligation to deliver necessary supplies to a job site. This may necessitate an immediate purchase of materials locally, which can increase the price significantly.
  • Extended Rental Fees – It is often necessary to rent equipment to complete specific tasks for a job. If a third party doesn’t fulfil their responsibility, it may be necessary to rent the equipment for a longer period of time.

There are, of course, many other situations that can result in consequential damages. Any time that there are damages that are indirectly caused by an action or inaction, there may be a legal case possible.

Waiving Consequential DamagesIn some contracts there will be a section that waives the legal option for lawsuits related to consequential damages. There are situations where this can be a good option, but not always. For example, a contractor who is asked to sign this type of contract should also insist that the waiver is mutual so that they can’t be left on the hook should they become unable to complete a task. Some contracts try to ‘sneak’ this type of waiver in without discussion, which is why it is so important to ensure all contracts are fully read and understood prior to signing. Contact us to get the help you need with creating, reviewing, or agreeing to any type of contract.

30Sep 2019

DBIA contracts are among the most popular types used in construction jobs today. These contracts were developed by the nonprofit organization Design Build Institute of America (DBIA). Both the building owners and the design professionals typically prefer using these types of contracts because they are designed to clearly outline all steps from the preliminary agreement all the way through to the final payment.

As the construction industry began using design-build strategies for their project delivery, a new type of contract was needed to ensure all parties were protected. In 1993 the DBIA was formed to not only provide structure to contracts, but also to promote the value of this type of project delivery.

Benefits of the DBIA Contract

When design-built projects were just getting started, building owners and design professionals would write up their own contracts to manage the deal. In the vast majority of cases, there were disagreements over the details because the contracts weren’t typically balanced. In order to avoid these types of problems, the Design Build Institute of America began producing easy to follow, and properly organized, contracts that could be used.

While the contracts have been updated over the years, they continue to be flexible enough to use on just about any job. They also do a great job of documenting the relationship between the various parties, including the design-builders, architects, and the trade contractors. This all helps to make the legal side of these projects much easier for everyone.

Terms & Conditions of a DBIA Contract

Each contract will have a number of different terms and conditions included based on the details of the project. Almost all examples of a DBIA contract will include the following items:

  • Change Options – The contract will identify how the project owner can make reasonable changes to the project.
  • Discovering Hazards – In the event that unknown, previously existing, hazardous conditions are found at the job site, work must stop and the owner notified. The owner is then responsible for remedying the situation. The contract will also identify what compensation the owner must pay to the design-builder for their down time.
  • Option to Stop Working – These contracts identify situations where the design-builder can stop work and terminate the contract. This will typically include things like when the owner fails to make payments, or provide agreed upon resources.
  • How to Resolve Disputes – No contract can address every situation, so it is important to identify how potential disputes will be resolved. The DBIA contract will include details of the agreed upon dispute resolution process.

There are many other details that can be included in a DBIA contract. Using the standard formatting will help to ensure all critical issues are covered. If you need help having a DBIA contract written up, or you need one reviewed, please contact FCLG to schedule a consultation today.

20Aug 2019

When working on a construction project it is important to have a good contract in place. In many cases, a standard form contract can be used to help facilitate communication between the various parties involved with the project. The most commonly used contracts like this are known as AIA contracts. The AIA is the American Institute of Architects, which is the group that came up with various contracts that can be used in a variety of situations.

Types of AIA Contracts

There are multiple different types of AIA contracts that can be used based on the situation. The following are the categories of AIA contracts that can be used:

  • A Series Contracts – These are contracts used between the project owner and the contractor(s) involved.
  • B Series Contracts – These are designed to be used on agreements between the owner and the architect.
  • C Series Contracts – Other agreements that don’t fall in another category will typically use this set of contracts.
  • D Series Documents – These are not contracts, but miscellaneous documents that are used in many agreements.
  • E Series Documents – The E-Series documents are for digital practice documents that are used in specific situations.
  • G Series Forms – This category is for contract administration and/or project management forms.

The AIA is committed to helping contractors, architects, project owners, and others involved in the construction process with the various contracts and other agreements that are needed. Using the AIA contracts can help make it a lot easier and less expensive to insure a construction job has the necessary legal documents in place to protect everyone involved. In addition to these contracts and other documents, the AIA also offers educational materials to help ensure their contracts are used properly. Their training and educational materials can be found on their website, HERE.

Get the Legal Help You Need

While AIA contracts are commonly used for construction projects, that does not mean that an attorney is not needed. Whenever starting a new project it is a good idea to go over the arrangement with an experienced construction law attorney who can help ensure everything is covered. Here at FCLG we can let you know when AIA contracts are going to be sufficient, and in what situations you may need a more customized approach. Please contact us to discuss your next construction project and what type of legal contracts you need. We can also help to enforce existing contracts to ensure your rights are protected.

20Jul 2019

If you work in the construction industry as a contractor, a builder, or any other professional, you have undoubtedly heard the term “sustainable design.” This is a concept where a home or other building is designed to meet the needs of the current occupants, while also planning for the future needs of humanity. In an age where being environmentally friendly is not just good for the planet, but also beneficial for marketing, budgeting, and more, this type of design just makes sense. This blog will offer a brief introduction to what sustainable design is, and how it is done. 

Goals of Sustainable Design

When engaging in sustainable design, the goal is to find a way to ensure a structure is both functional, and that it will have a minimal impact on the environment. There are many things that are done to help accomplish this goal, including: 

  • Choosing Materials – The materials used in sustainable design should be renewable, sourced from sustainable areas, focused on recycling, and generally ensure there is as little impact on the environment as possible. 
  • Efficiency – A structure should be built with proper insulation to help minimize the energy that is needed to keep it at a comfortable temperature. 
  • Renewables – Ideally, the building should take advantage of renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, or wind to provide power, heat, and even cooling. 
  • Durable – Even with sustainable design, a new construction project is going to have an impact on the environment. By focusing on durability, a new structure will last for decades so there isn’t further environmental damage by having to rebuild it later. 

Considering the Big Picture

A new construction project that is done with sustainable design strategies will need to take a big picture look at how things are done. It isn’t enough to simply build an energy efficient building, for example. It is necessary to also try to source materials locally so they don’t need to be transported long distances. Looking at the overall impact that a project is going to have today, and for years to come, will help to guide any sustainable design project. 

Clear Goals

When starting a new construction project with sustainable design goals, it is important to make sure they are clear to everyone involved. This means including the exact requirements in the legal contract that is made. All parties involved including the owner, architect, builders, contractors, suppliers, and others will need to be aware that the project has sustainability as a main goal in its execution. Having an attorney include this in the contract will help to avoid miscommunications. Contact us to go over your project plans and get the contract you need.

20Jun 2019

The construction industry relies on legal contracts to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding their roles and responsibilities. A properly written contract can help avoid misunderstandings and help promote a successful project. Once an agreement has been made, it is necessary to have a legal contract written up to make it binding. When having this done, it is best to have an attorney either write it or review it to ensure everything is included. Both the owner of the project and the contractor will need to be assigned specific duties.

Perform Services Appropriately

One of the most important duties of a contractor is to perform their services in an appropriate manner. This starts with completing the work according to the specifications laid out in the contract. Additionally, they need to inform the owner of any potential issues that they discover along the way. For example, if the contractor finds that a building design provided by the owner will violate safety standards, the contractor must inform the owner.

Cooperate with Contractors

The owners also have an obligation to cooperate with the contractors so that the contractors can complete their jobs in a reasonable way. For example, once an owner has told the contractors what they want done, they should largely stay out of the way and let the job get completed. Owners should not try to micromanage how each step in the process is completed, but instead only step in if there is a major concern that will impact the quality or safety of the work.

Craft an Effective Contract

In order to meet those requirements, both parties must also negotiate a fair contract in good faith. Understanding some of the key clauses that should be included is a great place to start. The following are clauses that should be in every construction contract:

  • Changing Conditions – In the event of unforeseen events or conditions, the risk of loss or delay will shift from the contractor to the owner.
  • Termination for Convenience – When a project becomes overly expensive or hazardous, the owner can stop the contract without liability. This clause will specify what, if any, compensation would be due to the contractor.
  • Site Investigations – Contractors need to investigate the site to confirm that the conditions are appropriate for the completion of the job.

Speak with an Attorney

Whenever starting the process of entering into a new construction project, it is important to have an attorney there to represent your interests. Contact FCLG to discuss your situation and have your contract drafted or reviewed right away.

20May 2019

When working on a construction project, it is important to take steps to ensure the final results will be fully in compliance with the ADA and FHA requirements. This isn’t always as easy as it should be since there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and the requirements get changed and updated. The following are some important areas that should be checked before completing any project.

1. One Wheelchair Accessible Entrance

When it comes to making an entrance or exit to a structure, many people believe that they all need to be wheelchair accessible. The fact is, however, that only one entrance in a public building needs to be easily accessed. This can make a project much easier to plan and build since there are fewer requirements in these areas. When making the wheelchair accessible entrance, however, it is important to ensure it is wide enough to fit through (typically 60”+) and that the automatic door opener is easily reachable from a wheelchair.

2. Designing the Bathrooms Properly

The ADA has very specific requirements when it comes to how the bathroom, and specifically the toilet, is installed. These requirements include:

  • The top of the seat must be between 17’’ and 19’’ from the floor.
  • The center point of the toilet must be between 16’’ and 18’’ from the side walls.
  • There must be at least 60’’ of turning room so that a wheelchair can properly maneuver.
  • Open space under a sink does not count in measuring these areas.
  • Grab bars must be installed on the side walls and behind the toilet.

3. Installing Light Switches

Placing light switches, electrical outlets, and other essential items is something that needs to be carefully considered. These items must be able to be easily reached and operated by those who are in a wheelchair. If you are building a multi-family home, it is also necessary to have the thermostat or other environmental controls accessible.

4. Ground Floor Only

It is common to assume that all the ADA and FHA requirements will apply to an entire building, but that is not always the case. If your project has two or more floors, but no elevator, than the locations on the upper floors don’t have to meet these requirements. This is a common situation for apartment buildings and other multi-family homes.

5. Don’t Leave it to ChanceThe ADA and FHA have a lot of requirements that builders need to be aware of, and they aren’t always clear. If you are ever questioning what needs to happen in a given situation, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced construction law attorney who can provide customized advice. Please contact FCLG to discuss your situation and get the help you need.

20Apr 2019

When it comes to a construction project, contractors are an essential part of the team that is responsible for completing a wide-variety of different phases of the job. In order to ensure the job is completed on time, and it is done correctly, many jobs will include a retainage in the construction contract. Understanding what this is, and how it will impact the various parties involved with the job, is important for ensuring everything goes smoothly.

What is Retainage?

When having a construction contract written up, you may want to include a retainage to ensure the contractors complete the job correctly. This is an amount of money that the contractor will be paid, but it is not distributed until after the contractor has completed the work that they were hired to do. The retainage can also set a specific date in the future on which they will be paid for the work they have completed.

In many cases, the contract will include multiple different retainage points so that money can be released to the contractor as goals are accomplished. For example, a contract could include a retainage that states that the contractor will receive 20% of their payment up front, then another 20% only after the foundation has been laid and approved. A further 20% will be paid out when the frame is completed, and the remainder of the money owed will be paid once the project is done. This type of arrangement allows the contractors to have the money they need to pay for the supplies they need, while also ensuring that they complete the work on schedule.

Issues with Incomplete Jobs

While a retainage goes a long way towards preventing incomplete jobs or other issues, problems can still arise. If a contractor fails to complete a job or completes it improperly, they will likely still get paid at least a portion of the money. If the property owner has to hire a new contractor to complete or fix a job, they will end up having to pay the original contractor for the portion of the work that they did correctly complete. If completing or fixing the job costs more than the retainage, than the original contractor won’t be entitled to any payment since they did not provide the promised value.

Importance of Contracts in Construction

Whether you are a property owner or a contractor, you know the importance of making sure your contracts are properly written. When using retainages, this becomes even more critical since it will directly impact how people are paid. Contact FCLG to discuss your specific needs for your next project, and we’ll help create a strong contract that protects all parties involved.

20Mar 2019

When entering into a construction contract with a client, there are many different aspects to the contract that you need to be familiar with. For most contracts, once the deal is signed you can expect that as long as you do the work properly, you will be able to complete the job and get paid as agreed unless something unusual happens. If you’re taking on a government contract, however, the “termination of convenience clause” could prevent this from happening.

A termination of convenience clause was originally developed because the courts determined that it was not in the public’s best interest to force a government agency to move forward with a contract that no longer made sense. There are many examples of when this can take place, such as when the government wants to have a facility built for a particular agency, but then that agency is shut down or consolidated. It doesn’t make sense to force the government to spend millions of dollars on a building they will no longer need.

What Happens if a Contract is Terminated?

If the government agency in question invokes the termination of convenience clause, you aren’t going to be completely out of luck. These clauses specify that the contractor is entitled to a negotiated settlement that will allow them to recover any costs and losses that incurred. This means, for example, if you have already made a non-refundable order for supplies, you’ll be compensated for the money spent. Any other reasonable expenses or costs will also be recoverable, so you won’t lose money from entering into this contract.

Termination of Convenience in Private Contracts

While almost all government contracts will include a termination of convenience clause, they aren’t nearly as common with private contracts. The courts tend to be of the opinion that if a private company enters into a contract, they should honor it, and it doesn’t hurt the public interest for this type of company to be compelled to honor their contracts. That being said, if both parties agree to have a termination of convenience clause in the contract, it will be honored. This can be used as a negotiating point by either party to help come to an agreement on the deal.

Get the Right Contract

Whether you are working out a contract with a public or a private entity, it is always important to ensure that the contract is properly written up and enforceable. Contact us to get appropriate representation for negotiating, creating, and reviewing your next contract. We’ll work hard to ensure your interests are protected throughout the entire job.

20Feb 2019

When preparing for a large construction project, you want to make sure that the lien is properly in place. In many situations, the lien is the most effective way to make sure you get paid in full for the work that you perform. Understanding all aspects of the lien, and how it is enforced, is critical for avoiding any problems. One often ignored or misunderstood item is known as “first furnishings.” This is a concept that is used when determining whether a lien is enforceable or not. Learn more about first furnishings in this blog post now:

What is First Furnishings?

First furnishings is important when determining whether a lien is enforceable in certain situations. Specifically, a lienor must serve their Notice to Owner at some point prior to 45 days after the first work is done, or the first delivery of materials at the property has arrived. The point where the material arrives, or the work begins, is known as first furnishings. The courts in Florida have been known to be quite strict on this requirement. If you don’t file that Notice to Owner within that 45-day window, it will be far more difficult to maintain the lien rights.

What Counts as First Furnishings?

In general, first furnishings is said to be when work begins or when materials arrive, as mentioned above. The fact is, however, that the courts can define this in very strict ways. For example, there have been cases where the courts ruled that the first furnishings timeline started when the first component of a crane arrived at the site, even though the crane wasn’t assembled or able to actually do any work for some time. With this in mind, it is absolutely essential to get that Notice to Owner served as quickly as possible so you don’t risk going over the 45-day limitation.

Who Needs to File the Notice to Owner?

This applies primarily to lienors who don’t have direct contact with the owner, such as sub-contractors, suppliers, and others. The primary contractor in a job, who works directly with the owner, typically won’t need to serve a Notice to Owner, so the first furnishings rule won’t really apply.

Never Assume a Thing

Florida’s construction industry has been booming for several years now, which has resulted in a lot of legal cases being filed. The courts aren’t going to want to spend a lot of time on each case if it can be avoided, which is why you need to make sure everything is in proper order so they can rule in your favor right away. Having an experienced construction attorney at your side will help ensure your Notice to Owner is created correctly, served, and done within the 45-day window. Contact us to go over your situation and see how we can help.

20Jan 2019

Using subcontractors is an important way to ensure all the work on a construction job is completed, and completed properly. When hiring these subcontractors, however, you need to make sure that they are not only qualified to do the job, but also that there won’t be any type of licensing violations that could put your job at risk of lawsuits, insurance problems, and other issues. The following are some of the most common licensing violations that subcontractors in Florida make, and how to avoid them.

Building Code Violations

One common type of violations that subcontractors commit is a failure to do their work up to the relevant building codes. In Florida, each type of building has many set codes in place to ensure the safety of the building and those who use it. If the subcontractors take shortcuts or used inadequate materials to meet the requirements, they can be cited for a violation. This is a very serious violation because depending on where it occurred, it could require major changes to bring the building up to code.

Failure to Obtain Necessary Work Permits

When bringing on a subcontractor to perform specific tasks, they may need to get specific work permits before they begin. While you would have typically gotten the general construction permits, their responsibilities will include getting what is necessary for the exact work they are responsible for. If inspectors find that they are working without first getting these permits, the fines and penalties can be quite significant. While it is the subcontractor’s responsibility to get these permits, you should make sure that they have completed this task before they are allowed to start their work.

Abandoning the Work

If a subcontractor abandons a project, or even if they never start the work, it can result in serious licensing violations. The abandonment of a project by one subcontractor can put the whole job at risk. Most permits and other authorizations from state or local agencies are time-sensitive, which is one of the reasons having a subcontractor abandon (or even just delay) the job is such an important issue that needs to be avoided.

Unqualified or Unlicensed Subcontractor

You need to make sure the subcontractors that are hired on are properly qualified and licensed to do the specific work they are going to perform. If they are not, you are not only putting the project in danger, but you can also be fined or penalized for having work done without the necessary licenses. Don’t take the word of the subcontractor that they have (or will get) the necessary qualifications or licenses. Demand proof and verify that your project is being done by people experienced in this area.

If you are facing a dispute with subcontractors over any of the above mentioned issues, contact FCLG to schedule a consultation to put us to work for you today.

20Dec 2018

When working as a general contractor, it is quite common that you will have to bring in subcontractors to complete certain tasks. On most jobs, the subcontractors will complete the work you need to be done without any trouble and the entire project can be completed successfully. When there are disputes, however, they can become quite costly and even put the entire job at risk. This is why it is so important to take steps to avoid any type of dispute before it occurs. Read on to learn about five practical things you can do to avoid subcontractor conflicts.

Ensure All Contracts are Clear

All relationships between your business and a subcontractor should be governed by a contract. Whenever starting or expanding any relationship with a subcontractor, you need to make sure that the contract you are using is clear and accurate. It should cover all aspects of what is expected of each party and include any additional information that is necessary for completing the job. You can even include instructions for how to resolve conflict and much more.

Identify Steps for Changes

When first starting a job with a subcontractor, the work that needs to be done should be clearly identified in the subcontractor agreement. As the job progresses, however, it is likely that some of the responsibilities will have to be changed or amended. Identifying how this is to be done and what requirements each party will have is important for avoiding conflict.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

Open communication is essential for avoiding conflict. This starts by making sure your subcontractors are able to get in touch with you when they have questions. Additionally, when an issue escalates, make sure you are working to discuss the situation honestly and not just trying to win an argument. When all parties involved are speaking clearly and without strong emotions, it is much more likely that a reasonable solution can be reached. When necessary, bring in an objective third party to help facilitate any discussions.

Prepare for Disagreements

In the event that there is a disagreement, make sure you have outlined how it should be resolved in your contract. This can include details such as what mediator should be used, where lawsuits need to be filed, and more. By outlining these options before there is any conflict, it will be easier to resolve should a disagreement arise.

Review All Contracts with an Attorney

Before you sign any type of contract, make sure you have it reviewed by an experienced construction attorney. We will be able to spot any weaknesses in the contract and determine if it is a good option for you. Contact us to speak with an attorney and have your contracts written up or reviewed right away.

20Nov 2018

Construction companies live and die based on their contracts. These contracts are most often between the construction firm and the client, but they also exist with contractors, suppliers, and other entities as well. All contracts must be written in a way that is easy to understand and are legally enforceable in the state of Florida. To help ensure your contracts will provide you with the legal protection you need, make sure you understand the following tips.

Use Clear Language

Legal contracts aren’t well-known for using common language that everyone will understand. While some “legalese” is sometimes necessary, the bulk of a construction contract should be written in a clear, easy to understand way. This will help avoid confusion from either party, which could be grounds for contesting it in court.

Quality of the Work & Materials

In the construction industry, perhaps more than any other industry, there is a huge range of quality for just about everything. You can’t have a construction contract that states that you will install kitchen countertops as part of the contract because that is far too vague. You must identify the exact quality of the work and material that will be used. There is a huge difference between basic entry level countertops and granite, so never leave these things unclear in your contracts.

How Conflicts Will be Solved

There are times when it is impossible to avoid miscommunications or misunderstandings. These types of issues can lead to serious conflicts, which all too often end up in court. If, however, you include specific conflict remediation steps in your contract, most legal problems can be avoided. For example, if you add in a clause that says all conflicts must go through third-party mediation before legal action can be taken, it will give you a chance to clear things up and get back to work.

Process for Modifications

For major construction jobs, it is quite common that changes and modifications will need to be made. The company hiring the contractors may change their mind on some aspect of the job, or the contractor may find that certain supplies aren’t available. Adding the process by which these modifications can be made (and details on how any prices will be adjusted) can help avoid serious conflicts as the job progresses.

Work with an Experienced Construction Law Firm

Working with a law firm that has extensive experience in the construction industry can help you to ensure your contract is strong and effective. Our team has been helping construction businesses throughout Florida for years, and we are ready to work with you too. Contact FCLG to schedule a consultation and get us started drafting up your construction contract right away.

20Oct 2018

When working in the construction industry, disputes with clients are almost inevitable. While most jobs will go smoothly, it is important to know what to do when you run into a conflict that simply can’t be resolved through normal communication. In most cases, the two options will be to either go through an arbitration process to come to an agreement, or file a lawsuit and let the courts decide. While there are certainly situations where a lawsuit is the best move, most of the time arbitration will actually be the better choice. Here are some of the biggest benefits of arbitrating a dispute in the construction industry.

It’s Much Faster

The court system in Florida is often backlogged with cases that they need to hear, which can result in a significant delay in getting to your case. Additionally, the courts tend to allow both parties significant amounts of time to really expound on their position. With arbitration, the arbitrator will help guide the process with a focus on coming to a conclusion that all parties are happy with. This typically takes a lot less time than going through the courts.

It’s Much More Affordable

Going to court is an expensive process. You will need to retain your attorneys for a much longer period of time compared to arbitration, which means higher fees. Additionally, there are a variety of court fees and other expenses that will all add up quickly. Arbitration is almost always a much more affordable option for both parties.

You Choose the Arbitrator

When a lawsuit is filed, the judge who will hear the case is assigned by the courts without any input from those in the case. This is done to ensure an impartial judge. With arbitration, however, both parties will need to agree on who they go to. This will help ensure the arbitrator hearing your case is knowledgeable in the specific areas where your conflict exists.

You Get a Final Decision

Once the arbitrator has ruled on a case, the decision is final. This will allow everyone involved to go back to their normal work and focus on their respective businesses. While a judge’s ruling tends to stand, it is possible to appeal, so you can’t be certain that the case is really over for quite some time.

The Goal is Mutual Satisfaction

When you file a lawsuit, you really have to fight to have the judge agree with you on every point with the hopes of having everything you want granted by the courts. With arbitration, however, it is more of a negotiation and compromise with the hope that both parties can walk away reasonably happy. This can help maintain a positive relationship between all parties involved.

We Are Here for You

Whether you opt for arbitration, or a lawsuit is the best option in your case, FCLG is here for you. We can represent you in either situation and provide you with a reasonable approach to help you get the outcome you’re looking for. Contact us to discuss your options and get this conflict put behind you.

20Aug 2018

When working on large projects, banks and other financing companies aren’t going to send you the full loan amount up front. Instead, they will provide the funding as it is needed over the course of the project. This reduces the risk for them but can also help to lower the total amount of interest you have to pay. While using this strategy can be a great thing for everyone involved, it also presents a risk of disputes occurring when it is time to get to the next phase of funding. Draw request disputes can wreak havoc on a project and should be avoided if at all possible. The following tips can help reduce the risk of a draw request dispute.

Be Clear with the Draw Schedule

When negotiating a project, and especially the financing of the project, it is important to be very clear with your draw schedule. Simply identifying dates of draw requests is insufficient. Additionally, you need to really think through the entire project so you can predict when additional financing will be needed and how long each step of the project will take. Spending some extra time at this planning stage will go a long way toward reducing the risk of a dispute down the road.

Stay on Schedule

Keeping your work progressing on schedule is one of the most important things you can do to avoid draw request disputes. While some delays are impossible to avoid, it is usually smart to do everything you can to meet the established deadlines in your contract. In many cases, it will even be preferable to pay employees and subcontractors overtime to catch up on work than it would be to fall behind. This is because the costs associated with a draw request dispute can far surpass those of temporarily increased labor expenses.

Clearly Identify Milestone Accomplishments

While draw request schedules will often include timeframes, they will also have specific milestones set as requirements for releasing funds. As you are progressing with the work, make sure you keep these milestones in mind. Providing proof that specific milestones have been reached will eliminate the most common causes for any disputes and help to ensure your financing is provided on the agreed upon schedule.

Keep Open Communication with the Client

For many draw requests, the financing company is going to need approval or confirmation from the client or other contact used to ensure the project is on schedule. Make sure you know who the lender is working with on your loan and stay in regular communication with them so they can more easily approve the draw request. If they need to contact you for any clarification, be available to them and open with any information they require.

Take Action Quickly on Any Disputes

While these tips should help you minimize the risk of draw request disputes, they can’t eliminate them entirely. In the event that you find yourself in a dispute, it is important to take action quickly. The longer the situation lasts, the worse it can become. Talking to a construction law attorney can help you to handle any disputes appropriately and get the results you’re looking for. Contact FCLG to go over your options and get the help you need.

20Jul 2018

The simple answer to this question is no, you can’t file a lien on a public project in Florida. This is because all public property is actually exempt from having liens filed against them. This is because the property is supposed to be “owned” by the Florida government on behalf of all the citizens of the state. It wouldn’t be fair to the citizens if that property were taken because the government agency responsible for it failed to pay their bills.

Of course, it is also unfair if a contractor’s company does work for the state of Florida but never gets paid. This is why most public projects will require that a payment bond be put in place before the project begins. This will serve to ensure the contractor is able to get paid, and the state property is protected. For projects with the state, these bonds are governed primarily by Florida Statutes Section 713.18.

What is a Payment Bond?
A payment bond is similar to a type of insurance that will pay out when a contractor files a claim (assuming it is a valid claim). If the Florida agency that hired the contractor is unable to pay for some reason, the bond will pay the money. While this isn’t a very common situation to face, it can and does happen at times, which is why contractors should never agree to a project with the state without having one in place.

Federal Government Projects
If the job is on federal land within the state of Florida, the same type of rules and regulations will apply. The Federal Miller Act is the set of laws that will govern a federal project like this, but in basic terms it will require you to have a payment bond in place and that the bond would pay out when a valid claim is filed. These types of laws and regulations can make projects with either state or federal governments more confusing than a standard agreement, which is why it is important to have an attorney working with you every step of the way.

Contact Us Today
Whether you have already started a job, or you are still negotiating with a state or federal agency, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney before moving forward. Contact Florida Construction Law Group to discuss your situation and ensure you will get paid for a job well done.