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09Jan 2024

Delays are an inevitable reality. While minor setbacks are often absorbed into the project timeline, more significant delays can have far-reaching consequences. They disrupt project schedules and increase costs. When substantial delays arise, the question of who bears responsibility and the extent of compensation becomes a complex legal issue. This is where delay claims come into play.

Delay claims are formal notifications sent by a contractor to the project owner or another responsible party alleging that their actions or inactions caused a delay in the project’s completion. These claims seek to recover damages incurred due to the delay, such as increased labor costs, overhead expenses, and lost profits. 

Understanding the intricacies of delay claims is crucial for Florida contractors to safeguard their interests effectively and navigate the legal landscape surrounding these complex disputes. We wanted to explore the legal aspects of delay claims to provide contractors with valuable insights into identifying, documenting, and pursuing delay claims in Florida.

Identifying Delay-Causing Events

The first step in handling delay claims is to identify and document the events that caused the delay. Accuracy is critical. This requires a detailed overview of the project’s contractual obligations, the original project schedule, and the actual progress of the work.

Common causes of delay in construction projects include:

  • Owner-caused delays: These delays arise from actions or inactions of the project owner, such as late or incomplete design changes, delays in obtaining permits, or interference with the contractor’s work.
  • Subcontractor-caused delays: Delays caused by subcontractors can disrupt the overall project schedule if their work is critical to the project’s progress.
  • Unforeseen events: Unforeseeable events beyond the control of any party, such as severe weather conditions or natural disasters, can also cause delays.

Documenting the Delay

Once the delay-causing events have been identified, it is essential to document the delay. This documentation should include:

  • Date and time of the delay event: Accurate timestamps are crucial for establishing the sequence of events and determining the impact on the project schedule.
  • Nature of the delay event: Clearly describe the event that caused the delay, providing specific details and supporting evidence.
  • Impact of the delay event: Analyze how the delay affected the project’s progress, including the specific activities that were hindered or halted.
  • Communications with the project owner: Document all communications with the project owner regarding the delay, including notices, letters, and meeting minutes.

Pursuing Delay Claims in Florida

In Florida, contractors can pursue delay claims under the Florida Prompt Payment Act (FPPA). The FPPA establishes a framework for resolving payment disputes in construction projects, including delay claims.

To pursue a delay claim under the FPPA, contractors must follow specific procedures, including:

  • Providing timely notice of delay: Contractors must provide written notice to the project owner within 20 days of becoming aware of the delay.
  • Submitting a formal delay claim: A detailed delay claim must be submitted to the project owner within 45 days of the substantial completion of the work.
  • Negotiating a resolution: Contractors should attempt to negotiate a settlement with the project owner before resorting to litigation.

If negotiations fail, contractors may have to pursue their claims through litigation. This process can be complex and time-consuming, and it is highly recommended that contractors seek legal counsel from an experienced construction law attorney.

Legal Insights for Contractors

As Florida contractors navigate the complexities of delay claims, here are some valuable legal insights:

  • Proactive approach: Early identification and documentation of potential delay-causing events can strengthen a contractor’s claim.
  • Effective communication: Maintaining open and transparent communication with the project owner can help resolve delays amicably.
  • Seek legal counsel: Consulting with an experienced construction law attorney can provide invaluable guidance and representation throughout the delay claim process.

Delay claims are a prevalent issue in the construction industry, and Florida contractors must be well-versed in their legal rights and responsibilities when handling them. By understanding the causes of delays, documenting delays, adhering to FPPA procedures, and seeking legal counsel, contractors can protect their interests and navigate the complexities of delay claims.

Florida Construction Law GroupIf you need help with delay claims in your construction projects, don’t navigate these complex situations alone. Schedule a consultation with Florida Construction Law Group to ensure your interests are protected, and you have the legal insights to handle these claims effectively.

08Dec 2023

Construction work is the backbone of our cities, an essential but complex combination of hard work, meticulous planning, and substantial financial transactions. The industry not only builds our communities but also shapes them to be better, safer places to live.

All of this also comes with complex legal issues that require diligent attention. Throughout the course of work, significant documentation must be not only drafted, agreed upon, and signed, but kept securely to reference when needed.

This is one critical aspect that will make or break the success and legal standing of a construction project: record keeping. Verbal agreements, while sometimes legally enforceable, are far from the best practice in the construction business. The foundation of any solid construction project management lies in the meticulous documentation of physical and digital records, and ensuring multiple copies are safeguarded.

Protect Yourself from Litigation

The construction business, with its myriad of transactions and interactions, is no stranger to litigation. It’s an inherent part of the business landscape. However, being dragged through legal proceedings doesn’t have to be a norm for your company (nor is it what you signed up for when you got into construction).

A comprehensive and accessible paper trail acts as a shield against the risks of litigation. By meticulously documenting every transaction and maintaining a record of all work completed, you create an armor of evidence that can protect your interests. This systematic documentation can be the difference between a resolved dispute and a prolonged (and expensive) legal battle. To safeguard your work from unnecessary litigation, it’s imperative to keep precise records that capture all the information necessary to defend your projects and your company.

Maintain Records Long-Term

It’s not just about keeping records while the work is active. The conclusion of a construction project doesn’t signal the end of the need for its records. In Florida, the statute of limitations on construction litigation is up to four years post-completion. That number can be extended to ten years in cases where the defects are considered to be latent.

This sets a minimum standard for how long records should be kept, but the savvy approach is to maintain these documents indefinitely. These records could be pivotal in future legal disputes or serve as a blueprint for handling subsequent projects and disputes. The longevity of your records could mean the longevity of your legal and financial security.

Establish a Consistent Record Keeping for Your Construction Business

Consistency is key. You need to prioritize efficiency and reliability in record keeping. When records from various projects are uniform in the way they are drafted and maintained, it not only streamlines management but also reinforces their credibility in the legal realm.

Courts tend to raise an eyebrow at records that lack consistency, casting doubt on their authenticity. A haphazard approach to documentation can lead to confusion, errors, and legal complications. It is crucial to establish and adhere to a consistent record-keeping protocol.

Ensuring that your record-keeping practices are beyond reproach is not just good business – it’s a legal imperative. At Florida Construction Law Group, we take pride in crafting consistent legal documents for your projects. Contact us today to fortify your record-keeping strategies and cement the legal standing of your construction work.

09Nov 2023

At Florida Construction Law Group, we regularly discuss the importance of strong construction contracts and how they safeguard any project’s progress and ultimate completion. Your work is best protected when you draft, sign, and thoroughly understand strong contract terms.

One of the most important elements of these contracts is the scope of work clause. This sets the stage for much of the project and is one of the key aspects of a construction contract that not only settles disputes but also proactively prevents them. Everyone should understand the scope of the work at hand so nobody is able to dispute strong work being done in the future. 

What is a Scope of Work (SOW) Clause?

A scope of work clause, commonly referred to as an SOW, serves as the blueprint of your construction project. It outlines the materials, activities, project milestones, deliverables, and, ultimately, the end product expected in the work.

Think of it as the document that gets everyone on the same page. It should leave no room for ambiguity, ensuring that both parties understand their responsibilities and expectations from the very beginning.

An SOW allows all stakeholders to align their efforts and resources effectively. Whether you’re the property owner, general contractor, or subcontractor, a well-drafted scope of work clause is your compass.

How Scope of Work Clauses Protect Your Project

These are often the key to preventing and resolving some of the most common construction disputes. Before you take any other steps when a dispute arises, refer to the SOW to see if the dispute is able to be quickly resolved.

Imagine a scenario where there’s a disagreement between the property owner and the general contractor regarding the quality of materials used. Without a comprehensive scope of work clause, this dispute could spiral into a costly and time-consuming legal battle. However, if the scope of work clause clearly defines the materials to be used and the quality standards to be met, it becomes a straightforward resolution.

Work with Florida Construction Law Group on Your Contracts

When it comes to protecting your Florida construction project, partnering with experienced legal professionals who understand construction law is vital. At Florida Construction Law Group, we have significant experience in drafting, reviewing, defending, and disputing terms in Florida construction contracts. We are able to handle disputes from either side because we understand the scope of work being done to build and preserve our communities.

Don’t leave the fate of your construction project to chance. Rely on Florida Construction Law Group to draft and defend your next construction contract.

04Oct 2023

In construction law, performance bonds play a pivotal role in securing financial commitment to a project. These financial instruments ensure that construction projects are executed smoothly and without disruption.

However, when disputes arise and claims are made against performance bonds, a complex dance of legal intricacies commences. When a surety is facing potential liability due to a performance bond claim, it’s imperative that a thorough investigation takes place to verify the claim and find potential remedies.

What is a Performance Bond?

Performance bonds guarantee the value of the work is not lost if a contractor is unable to pay, faces bankruptcy, or is dealing with a similar circumstance. These bonds ensure progress is not stalled on the project when financial issues arise. They provide protection through payment guarantees for labor, materials, and services rendered.

Verifying a Performance Bond Claim

Upon receiving a performance bond claim, the surety’s initial duty is to launch a comprehensive investigation. This process serves as the cornerstone for determining whether the bond principal (the party responsible for fulfilling contractual obligations) is indeed in default. Verifying this is an important first step before anything else is able to move forward.

Once liability is confirmed, it’s important to investigate each and every aspect of the agreement and its ties to the project. By delving into the specifics, the surety gains a panoramic view of the circumstances, allowing them to determine the most appropriate course of action.

Investigating a Performance Bond Claim

The investigation process during a performance bond dispute is vital to finding a resolution that satisfies all involved parties. As a surety, engaging in a thorough and expeditious investigation is not just a legal obligation but a strategic move to uncover remedies, safeguard interests, and facilitate a fair resolution.

A thorough investigation not only demonstrates the surety’s commitment to remedying the situation. The investigation serves as a crucial element for the surety to identify potential avenues for resolving the dispute while mitigating the impact on all parties involved. All options should be on the table, including renegotiations or even collaborative solutions to rectify the situation without entering litigation.

Work with an Experienced Florida Construction Law Firm

In the realm of construction law in Florida, a surety’s responsibility is not one that can be taken lightly. The intricate web of legalities, obligations, and potential liabilities requires a steadfast dedication to due diligence. That’s where Florida Construction Law comes in.With a deep understanding of construction law and performance bond intricacies, we provide clients with unwavering representation and advice through every phase of a surety claim and construction project. Whether you are facing a claim or attempting to execute a claim, we handle both sides. Contact our team and get the best representation for your performance bond dispute today.

06Sep 2023

What’s in a contract? For construction contractors, the answer should be everything. Contracts are the backbone of Florida construction work, and it’s imperative that these contracts are fortified with careful and thorough legal consideration.

But, what terms do you really need and what do some of the common terms actually represent when you’re signing a contract? We want to make sure you have peace of mind before you sign anything.

Pricing Terms

Fixed Price – For fixed-price contracts, all work must be done for the defined price that will either be paid for all at once (lump sum) or over the course of the work.

Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) – Under GMP terms, there is a price limit set for the work. Any work done beyond this upper limit is paid for by the construction manager.

Time and Materials – This type of contract requires the contractor to bill the owner for labor, materials, and hours worked. This is best for jobs where the amount of time and materials required is unclear.

Unit price – Unit pricing uses a fixed price on a defined “unit” such as price per square foot. Contractors bill for each individual unit in the work.

Draw Request – Many contractors are paid out in phases over the course of the job. A draw request is made when more money from the loan is needed and a phase of the work is complete. These often result in draw request disputes.

Dispute Resolution Terms

Dispute Resolution – Dispute resolution in construction contracts ensures a proactive approach when disputes arise involving draw requests, payments, materials needed, and other issues.

Indemnification – This is applied when any damages are incurred due to actions or omissions by a contractor. The contractor is held responsible for these costs as opposed to the owner unless otherwise defined.

Forced Arbitration – Certain contracts will include language for forced arbitration which requires that the involved parties enter into legally-binding arbitration as opposed to filing a lawsuit to resolve issues that arise.

Termination – Construction contracts must define when a job is able to be legally terminated. This includes when contractors are able to walk away and when the owner or client is able to terminate the work to either hire new contractors or abandon the project.

Use Florida Construction Law to Review Your Construction ContractsThese are just a sample of the many key terms included in Florida construction contracts. It’s important to have an attorney review your contracts before committing to a job. This protects you, your employees, and the work being done. Contact Florida Construction Law Group for a thorough contract drafting or review today.

09Aug 2023

One of the best and most efficient ways to help ensure payment as a construction contractor is to file a mechanic’s lien. A lien, in general terms, is a legal guarantee that the lienor (person who filed the lien) gets money if the property is ever sold. There may be multiple liens on one project or property, which is one reason why contractors should file a lien as soon as they believe it would be beneficial.

This blog will walk through the general process of filing a mechanic’s lien and enforcing the lien through a foreclosure action.

Step 1: File the lien in accordance with Florida law. 

The most important thing to keep in mind at the beginning is the deadline for filing a Florida mechanic’s lien. As long as you are privy to the project’s prime contract, you have 90 days from the project’s last work to file a lien. If the prime contract was terminated earlier than the project’s last work, you must file within 90 days of that contract termination. 

The lien itself must contain certain information about the project and be filed with the county clerk’s office where the project is located.

Step 2: Send notice to interested parties. 

After filing your mechanic’s lien, the real work begins. Florida law requires lienors to file copies with the project’s interested parties within 15 days of the lien’s filing. Copies should go out to developers, owners, lenders, subcontractors, and material suppliers. 

In many cases, simply giving notice that you are planning to file a lien will get you the payment. A Notice of Intent to Lien is not required in Florida, but it may result in payment all the same.

Step 3: Consider filing a foreclosure lawsuit to enforce the lien. 

You’ve filed a lien and haven’t heard anything from the project owner despite the lien notice and multiple attempts to contact them. It might be time to tighten the screws.

Under normal circumstances, the lienor in Florida has one year from the date of the lien’s recording to bring a foreclosure action. However, that statute of limitations can be drastically shortened in two ways. One, the property owner can file a Notice of Contest of Lien to shorten it to 60 days. Two, the deadline can be changed to just 20 days if the interested party comes back with a counter-lawsuit after receiving notice of the lien.

Step 4: Talk with your lawyer and turn over everything.

Your attorney should handle all the technical requirements, like filing the foreclosure lawsuit with the appropriate court and arranging for service of process to the other parties. However, you can do your part by giving your attorney relevant documents, contracts, pictures, and other information. Being transparent and forthcoming can help your case.

A successful case will usually result in a sale of the property or project. You may have to wait before you get the money you are owed. In some cases, successful claimants (lienors who enforce their liens by filing a foreclosure action) receive reimbursement for attorney’s fees.

A Skilled Attorney is Your Greatest Resource

Filing and recording a mechanic’s lien requires great attention to detail, as does ensuring you did so in the appropriate amount of time. Filing a foreclosure lawsuit to collect on that lien is much more complex; hiring an experienced attorney is the best thing to do. You deserve to be paid for the work you did, and our firm would be glad to help make that happen. Call us at 305-227-4030 or fill out a form on our website to get in touch with Florida Construction Law Group.

15Jul 2023

You have probably heard all about home solar panels- go green to save the earth, with no money down, and pay almost nothing on your electric bill. It sounds like a no-brainer if you are a homeowner to use clean energy to cut back on your electric bill.

With over 11,000 solar panel companies nationwide, the ease and availability of equipping your home with panels are unending. Homeowners can pay cash, take out solar loans, and use solar leasing. We are going to look at one specific funding option known as PACE

PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy)

PACE loans are increasing rapidly throughout Florida. PACE loans are a low-cost, long-term financing option for homeowners. Through the PACE program, homeowners can purchase energy-efficient equipment through a non-ad valorem assessment that is repaid through the homeowner’s annual tax bill. There is no upfront cost for the homeowner, but a lien is then placed on the property equaling the value of the improvements, then assessed and added to the future property taxes. There are some considerations and concerns surrounding the program.

Underwriting Issues

With these PACE programs, the lenders are not thoroughly looking at the owner’s financial ability to repay these loans. They are m looking at your history of re-paying your mortgage and the equity in your home.

Lender Concerns

PACE Providers have not been upfront in explaining that the lien placed will likely inhibit any additional bank financing while the lien is still on the property. Lenders are rightfully concerned because the lien can potentially impair their rights as the lienholder. Certain banks will not back mortgages that currently have a PACE lien against them.

Sale of Property

If the property is sold, the lien may need to be repaid in full before the home is sold.

Loan Disclosures

The PACE loan providers slickly gloss over the details and critical implications of agreeing to the loan. In their agreement, PACE states that they have a right to foreclose upon their investment if there is a failure to pay. Therefore PACE can take the property away from the homeowner.

Contractor Issues

The PACE program does not install the solar panels themselves. They hire contractors, which does not guarantee that the contractor is reputable or responsible. There have been several circumstances where the contractor does not complete the project correctly or even walks away from the project, and the homeowner is still liable for the lien on their home.

Get Representation

Let our experienced and dedicated attorneys at the Florida Construction Law Group help you with any questions or issues you may have surrounding the Florida PACE program or its loans.

06Jun 2023

Construction contracts require meticulous planning and negotiation. Each party has a goal to get the job done, but what this looks like and what it will take to get there may look different to each party.

In negotiating a contract on your next Florida construction site, there are certain details that are often overlooked and taken for granted. Every detail of a contract matters, otherwise you end up in mediation to deal with disputes that arise later. Read on for a few key elements of a construction contract that you should never overlook.

How disputes will be handled

Contract disputes happen. We know because we handle them on a regular basis. So, how do you want those disputes to be handled?

Both sides should be aware of the proper channels to handle a dispute. A failure to address this in your contract means you will be forced to be reactive instead of proactive.

There could be ways to ensure the work continues while disputes are handled by project management. Forced arbitration is a popular option, though this may need to come with concessions depending on which side prefers to go that route. Keeping your project out of the courts could benefit both sides and prevent long and damaging delays.

Specific project schedules

Any contract can indicate when a project will start and when it should be completed, but it’s important to take the time to nail down projected dates for stages in the construction process. This is especially important for larger construction projects that may take months or even years to complete.

Draw requests are often based on these dates, and if you over or under-estimate the timing of each stage of a project then you can end up in dispute. Work diligently and honestly to determine realistic target dates.

Force majeure provisions

Schedules can only go as far as nature allows. Even the most fastidious project managers will fall off track if an act of god disrupts the work. This has become especially relevant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Natural events like hurricanes, other weather events, and viral diseases put the health and safety of workers at risk. You can’t force workers to move forward in unsafe conditions, but you also have deadlines to hit. A force majeure provision is a sensible middle ground that allows workers to stay safe and prevents liability when unforeseen, uncontrollable events delay the project.

Keep your attorney closeConstruction contracts will benefit from the meticulous attention of a construction law attorney. At Florida Construction Law Group, we have the experience and expertise to help you navigate the contract negotiation, renegotiation, litigation, and mediation process. Get our team involved early and we will work with you every step of the way.

09May 2023

The health and long-term viability of almost any business is heavily connected to its insurance policies. Because there are so many types of businesses in the U.S., the types of insurance policies that exist to protect businesses are also numerous. It can therefore be confusing to know which policies your business needs. 

Construction companies and contractors have unique liabilities that require a thoughtful and detailed insurance coverage strategy. The specific policies your construction business needs can vary depending on the scope of each project and the characteristics of each project owner, but it can be wise to purchase the following:

1. Professional liability insurance.

Just about any business that employs licensed professionals—such as a physician’s practice, law firm, or accounting firm—carries this type of insurance that is sometimes referred to as errors and omissions insurance. As that name suggests, this insurance policy can step in when contractors commit errors that cause financial loss to clients. It often covers breach of contract, missed project deadlines, and services that were promised but not provided.

2. Workers’ compensation.

Some companies are not required to carry workers’ compensation for employees if the company employs a small number of workers (the exact amount varies by state). The elevated risk of injury on a construction site, however, means general contractors are hardly ever exempt. In Florida, contractors with one or more employees are required to carry this policy, which covers medical costs and partial lost wages when a worker is injured on the job. 

3. Subcontractor default insurance.

In lieu of surety bonds, which are usually required for public construction projects, larger general contractors may instead purchase a subcontractor default insurance policy. This policy will pay the contractor after three things happen: a subcontractor defaults on its duties, the contractor selects a replacement subcontractor, and a deductible is paid by the contractor. The deductibles are often large, but the terms may be more convenient to contractors than those of many surety bonds. 

4. Inland marine insurance. 

This policy has nothing to do with water-related projects. It does cover movable property, equipment, and materials that may “float” or be transported between job sites. Generally, inland marine insurance covers equipment and materials that are in transit to or from a job site. This policy can fill in the gaps for property insurance, which covers many fixtures of a permanent physical location.

5. General liability insurance. 

This policy is used by most construction contractors. General liability insurance usually covers losses in several different areas, including injuries incurred by non-employees on the project site, property damage to a client’s property, and even advertising injury. It can also cover legal fees that may associated with such incidents.

A construction contractor that has adequate insurance policies should be able to feel secure in the event of a covered loss. After paying your premiums on time and notifying your insurance provider of an incident, you have nothing to worry about, right? Unfortunately, the answer is not always clear. 

An experienced construction attorney can fight for the outcome you and your business deserve in the midst of any disputes. Our firm would be happy to discuss your situation and advise you on sensible steps moving forward in a wide range of legal areas. Call us at (305) 227-4030 for a consultation.

12Apr 2023

Construction projects shape our communities. The homes we live in, the businesses we buy from, the places our children learn and play, and more. This, of course, makes avoiding mistakes imperative to ensure the protection of our communities and the people living in them.

Mistakes are a reality in any line of work. They are going to happen, and we must recognize that in order to mitigate the risks that come with those mistakes.

Construction defects can put construction workers and the individuals who eventually occupy a building at serious risk – both physically and financially. Exploring the common types of defects that pop up in construction allows us to be keenly aware of and prevent them.

Design Defects

The most obvious and common defect comes before any equipment or supplies are ever ordered. Architects and engineers must work together to ensure the vision they have for a project can actually be reproduced in reality.

These are trained professionals, often with decades of experience. Understanding the functionality of a design can prevent major design defects. Common design defects include:

  • Lack of structural integrity
  • Mechanical and electric issues
  • Lack of heat and moisture control

Material Defects

Once a design is complete, the construction team will work to order the necessary materials to complete the job. This presents another opportunity for defects to become present on a construction job.

Ordering the correct materials will prevent issues, but this is a unique challenge. Having a vision for a construction project is one thing, but turning that vision into reality with physical materials requires careful attention to detail. Common material defects include:

  • Damaged or broken materials implemented into a project
  • Mismatching materials
  • Poor waterproofing
  • Cutting corners with too little or too much material
  • Using inferior products to cut costs

Construction Defects

Each of the above defects is an example of a construction defect, but the actual construction of a project can lead to some of the most common defects. Proper workmanship will be an integral element of any project.

Experienced teams and workers understand the importance of every element of the job. Working with a team you know and trust can help avoid these issues. Common construction defects include:

  • Opting for inexperienced contractors who aren’t ready for the job
  • Failure to properly seal windows and doors
  • Shoddy roofing
  • Shoddy drywall
  • Working too fast to catch mistakes

At Florida Construction Law Group, we have been on both sides of a construction defect. We understand the challenges workers face in shaping our communities, and we understand the devastating impacts a defect can have. Whether you are the victim of a construction defect or need to defend yourself against claims you were responsible for a defect, contact our team today.

06Mar 2023

As we have previously discussed on the blog, disputes in a construction project can derail the entire project and put multiple parties at risk of losing out on serious cash flow. Common or minor disputes can quickly grow and halt work.

There are numerous ways to solve a construction dispute, including arbitration which we covered in January. Mediation is another great alternative that allows you to bring in a third party to help you navigate these issues and get impartial suggestions on what to do next. At Florida Construction Law Group, we can work as a mediator and believe this is a great tool to continue the work being done and paid for.

Mediators Are Independent Third Parties

Like arbitrators, mediators provide an independent review of the situation. You will get in a room with the other party and the mediator to discuss what the issue is, what the possible causes are, and what solutions have been considered.

Some people believe that because one party reached out to the mediator themselves that the mediator will side with them. We can assure you that this is not the case. There are numerous laws that prevent mediators from choosing sides and being partial.

You will receive honest and considerate advice to address your Florida construction law dispute.

You Hold the Power

Unlike arbitration, mediation is not legally binding. The decisions and insights provided by a mediator are merely suggestions for how the two parties can and should proceed. However, if one or both parties disagree with the suggestions of the mediator then the parties can look for alternatives to resolve their disputes.

Mediation is generally a preferred method early on in a dispute as opposed to arbitration which should often be a last resort if the parties wish to proceed but cannot agree on how that will look.

Cheaper and Quicker Alternative to Other Solutions

You could go all the way through the courts to litigate these issues or even go through arbitration, but both of these processes are time-consuming and expensive. As you know, time is money in the construction business. The longer these issues drag out the longer the construction project is delayed and at risk.Our team wants to be a part of your solution and allow you to continue improving Florida’s communities through hard work and dedication. If you are having trouble resolving a construction dispute and need to bring in a mediator, make our team your first choice. You can contact us online or call us at (305) 227-4030.

15Feb 2023

Entering into business with a construction contractor is often much more complicated than what many people presume. Besides disagreements between project owners and contractors over the quality of work performed, most other conflicts between these two parties come down to money. A relatively new type of financing for some home improvements, PACE, is causing some headaches for homeowners in Florida.

What is PACE Financing?

PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing is a unique financing structure that allows homeowners and other property owners to pay for renovations as an extra line item on their property taxes. This financing is technically not a loan; the capital needed for each PACE project is paid upfront to the contractor, arranged for by organizations like Ygrene.

Ygrene enlists the help of contractors to sell projects paid for through PACE financing. A common type of home improvement project that uses PACE financing is solar panel installation. Salespeople inform homeowners of the benefits of PACE financing, including the ability to transfer the debt to buyers if they sell the property, delay payment for up to 12 months (or whenever the next set of property taxes is due), and save money through lower energy bills.

Plenty of homeowners have realized great benefits through PACE financing. Conversely, though, many feel they have been duped by Ygrene

The primary complaint is that consumers were not informed that receiving a project through PACE financing means a first-priority lien will be placed on their home until the project has been fully paid off. In other words, homeowners may experience foreclosure if they fall behind on their bills that coincide with property taxes. What’s more is that homeowners are forced to pay their PACE financing obligations in the event of a forced sale; that money cannot even go toward the property’s mortgage.

If a sale is not forced through foreclosure, homeowners might not ever be able to sell their property. Many mortgage lenders will not lend to buyers who wish to purchase a property with a first-priority PACE lien. Complicating matters is the fact that contractors are often awarded finder’s fees for selling PACE projects, presenting a potential conflict of interest.

Understand Your Contractor’s Terms

The most important tool for homeowners and consumers before beginning a home improvement project is information. It is important to understand exactly how you will be billed, the interest rate, and any liens that will be placed on the property. Solar panels are attractive to homeowners and entrepreneurs due to decreased energy costs, but the PACE financing often attached to such projects can be troublesome.

In the event of a dispute with your contractor, your greatest tool as a homeowner is an experienced Florida construction attorney. The earlier you consult a trusted firm like Florida Construction Law Group, the better your chances of outright prevailing in your case. In any situation, our team will work tirelessly to resolve your dispute as efficiently as you’d like. Call us at (305) 227-4030 to discuss your legal needs today.

09Jan 2023

Contract disputes are often best resolved through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, and construction disputes are no exception. The two most common ADR methods are mediation and arbitration, the latter of which is often considered to be the happy medium between informal mediation and often-costly litigation.

Greater Control of Intermediary

Arbitration shares features of mediation and litigation. Arbitration is similar to mediation because the two disputing parties have some control over who eventually occupies the position of arbitrator. Sometimes, a panel of arbitrators will function as the intermediary in an arbitration.

Parties will often choose an arbitrator or arbitration panel from the American Arbitration Association (AAA), which prescribes unique procedures for construction disputes that are better suited for the industry. Accordingly, arbitration offers parties an opportunity to select an arbitrator who is actually knowledgeable about their specific industries. In litigation, you risk being assigned a judge who is not familiar with the construction industry, its common types of disputes, or best practices.

Customizable Discovery and Preliminary Procedures

In contrast to the relatively rigid procedures in civil court, parties in arbitration may choose to forego certain customs in favor of an expedited timeline and lower costs. For instance, upon the approval of both parties, an arbitration might disallow live witness statements in front of the arbitrator and instead rely on document exchanges. Or, you might want to keep as many formalities as possible so your arbitration process more closely resembles litigation. The money at stake in your dispute will likely play a large part in these decisions.

The Hearing

Both parties will go before the arbitrator or arbitration panel and present their side. Again, the extent to which each party will be able to question the other side and present certain types of evidence might be limited by a prior agreement. The hearing date will be agreed upon by both parties, another advantage over litigation.

One often-misunderstood part of arbitration? The decision reached by the arbitrator or arbitration panel is legally binding and generally not eligible for appeal except in special circumstances. This can save time and money by preventing appeals, which are typically available in litigation. Another feature of arbitration is that the process remains private. Litigation is usually a matter of public record.

Look Over Your Contract

Mandatory arbitration clauses are increasingly used in construction contracts. Many parties who end up in a dispute are surprised to learn they are required to resolve things in arbitration. Arbitration is not always better than litigation, especially when an especially large sum of money is at stake.Whether your construction dispute is to be resolved via litigation or arbitration, an experienced Florida construction attorney is critical. Our team has deep experience representing clients in a wide variety of construction and real estate matters. We would be more than happy to evaluate your situation and work with you to put your legal issues behind you.

08Dec 2022

“Blood, sweat, and tears” is a generic phrase, but it’s exactly what contractors genuinely put into Florida construction projects. Construction workers are some of the hardest-working people among us, and they deserve to be paid for their work. Unfortunately, sometimes their paychecks come up short or wires get crossed which can result in a lien on the property being worked on.

A construction lien is a tool to protect the pay of those working on the project. We previously talked about how these work and briefly touched on the release of lien process, but we want to dive deeper into how you can get these liens released to cut any of the strings attached to a project or property.

Rights to Lien Cannot Be Waived

First and foremost, you won’t be able to go into a job without lien rights remaining intact. Florida law prevents construction workers from waiving these rights in order to protect them from unfair labor practices or negotiations. Florida law specifically states “a right to claim a lien may not be waived in advance. A lien right may be waived only to the extent of labor, services, or materials furnished. Any waiver of a right to claim a lien that is made in advance is unenforceable.”

If you are a construction worker and are being asked to waive this right or feel like an unwillingness to do so has cost you a contract, you should work with an attorney to recoup what you lost in the process.

Filing a Release of Lien

The official process of removing a lien will be through filing a release of lien. This is a common practice that will be used to confirm the circumstances that led to the lien either never happened, were misleading, or have been remedied and are no longer present.

In remedying the lien, there are two options: releasing the lien after a “progress payment” or after the unpaid amount has been paid in full. The statute linked above provides a specific form that can be used for these waivers:

WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIEN

UPON PROGRESS PAYMENT

The undersigned lienor, in consideration of the sum of $ , hereby waives and releases its lien and right to claim a lien for labor, services, or materials furnished through   (insert date)   to   (insert the name of your customer)   on the job of   (insert the name of the owner)   to the following property:

  (description of property)  

This waiver and release does not cover any retention or labor, services, or materials furnished after the date specified.

DATED on  ,   (year).       (Lienor)  

WAIVER AND RELEASE OF LIEN

UPON FINAL PAYMENT

The undersigned lienor, in consideration of the final payment in the amount of $  , hereby waives and releases its lien and right to claim a lien for labor, services, or materials furnished to   (insert the name of your customer)   on the job of   (insert the name of the owner)   to the following described property:

  (description of property)  

DATED on  ,   (year).       (Lienor)  

Proving Timely And Accurate Payment

Of course, there’s a chance the lien wasn’t necessary in the first place. Construction companies should keep accurate and consistent records of all contracts, payment/draw schedules, draw requests, and actual payments. If you’re running a construction job and are able to prove that payments were actually made in a timely manner based on the contract that was signed then you can secure a lien release without requiring the other party to agree.At Florida Construction Law Group, we have worked with both sides of construction liens. We understand the perspective of contractors who haven’t been paid for their hard work, and we also know these can occasionally happen without merit. It’s important to ensure liens are only placed on property when necessary and that they’re remedied properly. Contact our firm if you need help filing or dealing with a construction lien.

01Nov 2022

General contractors work hard to get the money they’re owed to complete a project in a timely manner. Draw requests play a key role in making sure that is possible, but when a draw request dispute arises it can delay the project, make the project more expensive, lead to loss of labor, and more.

At Florida Construction Law Group, we handle these disputes to make sure contractors have the funds they need at the time they are supposed to get them. We fully understand the risk these disputes create for any project. There are several steps you and your team can take to avoid these disputes.

Set a Clear, Reasonable Schedule

These contracts are set on a schedule that dictates when and how draw requests can be made. However, it’s not as simple as setting dates and times for these payments but about paying out draw requests as the project progresses. Once work is completed and confirmed to be completed then the draw request for the next step of the project can be made and fulfilled.

Understanding this schedule will help you avoid disputes down the line. You need to make sure you understand each part of the schedule negotiation, what work is expected of you and your team, and other details within the documents. Be sure to keep any agreements in a secure and accessible place so you are able to review any details you need down the line.

The “reasonable” portion of this is also imperative. Both sides should go into the project with realistic expectations about what the work is, what it will take to get it done, and when it should be done. Everybody wants quick work but what everybody needs is quality work. You shouldn’t be forced into a contract that expects you to complete the work too quickly or that separates the funds out to a point where you won’t be able to purchase the necessary equipment, tools, and supplies for that portion of the project.

Keep All Receipts

Record-keeping on any project is a must. You can’t expect to be paid for your work or settle disputes down the line if you don’t have evidence of what’s being done. If you have an invoice for any previous draw request as well as any receipts for work done then the draw request process should move quickly.

Any contract will clearly state that proof of completion will be necessary to execute a draw request. The more organized and thorough your records are the quicker draw requests can be completed.

Document and Explain Changes

Any experienced contractor knows construction projects generally face a few changes. These changes are nearly inevitable but they’re also understandable. However, changes could derail the draw schedule you’ve already agreed to which is why documentation of these changes is necessary.

You and your team will need to showcase the reasoning for a change which could be related to weather, supplies, funding, ownership, or another unforeseen circumstance. When this happens, you will file a change order that explains the reason for the changes, what the changes are, and what additional costs may be associated with the change.If you’ve taken these steps then your project and draw schedule should be able to move forward without any disruptions. However, even the most thorough project can end up with disputes for various reasons. Contact the team at Florida Construction Law Group if you’re dealing with a draw request dispute that is disrupting your ability to do your job.

15Oct 2022

We all need to work to make a living. In some professions, taking on every job that comes your way may be the best avenue to financial security for the whole family.

Some construction companies may take this approach, but there comes a time when a project and your company aren’t a match. There’s nothing wrong with saying no – and we want to explore some things you should look out for before signing any contracts.

The project doesn’t fit your portfolio

Have you grown a successful construction company with a ton of big projects in your portfolio? If so, it might not make sense for you to take on small home-improvement projects or the like. You may not want to tie up resources in smaller projects in case a large project comes along that you want to put your name on. It’s also logical that you may be too expensive for someone looking for small projects.

The same is true for the opposite – if you’re a small construction company just getting off the ground it might be sensible to avoid biting off more than you can chew. You have the experience and knowledge to get the job done, but you might not have the staff, materials, or finances to compete with bigger companies at this point. There’s nothing wrong with this. Those bigger companies started off in the same place you did.

Too good to be true

We all want that one big project that puts us on the map. It can be tempting to take the big, shiny project that hits our desk right away – but tread carefully.

Some projects genuinely are too good to be true. A quick and easy project promising big money? A massive project hoping to hire a small or new construction company? These can be signs there’s something missing behind the scenes. It’s important to thoroughly vet each project to make sure you’re not being put in a position to fail before you even start.

Your team is stretched thin

Burnout is a major problem in many industries, but the physical toll construction projects take on workers can be detrimental. If you’ve been constantly shifting from project to project recently it may be sensible to pass on a project or two so your contractors and workers aren’t pushed beyond their limit.

Burnout leads to mistakes. Mistakes in construction can lead to lawsuits, injuries, or worse. Be sure to take the pulse of your team before committing to that next big project when you’ve been booked up recently. Another option is to hire a separate team of contractors who haven’t been as busy lately – even if you’re not as familiar with them.Your experience in construction should tell you when a project isn’t the right fit for you and your team. There are many reasons to consider taking on or turning down a project depending on the circumstances at that time. If you’ve recently signed a contract but realized it’s not going to work out or need help negotiating a legal and feasible construction contract, contact Florida Construction Law Group today.

15Sep 2022

Construction projects require significant attention to detail to ensure quality control across the board. There are many layers to a construction project, so it’s important to be sure every member of your team is in sync with the details and expectations of the job.

If a homeowner feels a job wasn’t done up to standard and files a claim over defects such as roofing issues, improper materials, or, even worse, a personal injury, then your reputation can immediately go out the window. Florida construction contractors, sub-contractors, material men, and workers bring important experience to every project and one mistake shouldn’t upend a career of good work. Still, that’s the reality of the business at times, so it’s imperative that the whole construction team put time and effort into avoiding defects.

1. Document and review all contract details

The contract process should lay out the expectations of the job. This is an opportunity for the construction workers and property owners to put forth any specifications for the job at hand. This can include expectations of the materials used, present problems that need to be remedied, and other necessary details.

You and your team should be aware of every relevant detail in the contract. Some contracts may seem standard and every contract will include some standard language, but a thorough review may find that the contract requires specific products or materials. Any unusual request in a contract should be acknowledged and adhered to in order to avoid issues down the road.

All efforts to follow through with contract details should be documented, and any reason contract details cannot be honored should be taken up with the property owner prior to any final decisions being made. Even if a contract detail is unreasonable or unviable in your project, you are still legally bound to it until the other party agrees to alter the contract.

2. Don’t be afraid to start over

Nobody on a construction site should be cutting corners. It can be tempting to get the job done early to satisfy the customer or to let a small error go by covering it up. Unfortunately, the costs of a defect being caught later in the process are exponentially greater than just scrapping the part of the project where the error is and starting it again.

The risks to your finances and reputation are too significant to try and get away with cutting corners. Even if the property owner isn’t knowledgeable about construction and the project at hand, it seems every defect eventually comes to light. Take the time to get it right at every step.

3. Constantly review the project

Once the work starts there’s this itch to keep going and get the job done. That’s because construction workers are some of the hardest workers in America. They’re literally building our country.

With that said, sometimes it’s good to slow things down and review all recent work on the project. This can be done by one manager or a quality control team established at the beginning of the project (the more eyes on a project the better). This could be something members of the quality control team do at the beginning and/or end of every day or it can be done as a phase of the project is completed.

However your team decides to do this, it’s important to be consistent and not be afraid to take a pause to ensure nobody is building on a mistake. Mistakes have a way of compounding on construction projects.

4. Call an attorney

You shouldn’t be subjected to claims against your hard work that are malicious and invalid. Any construction team should have an attorney they know and trust to write and review contracts and to step in when you’re accused of wrongdoing.At Florida Construction Law Group, we represent both construction workers and property owners in defect cases. We understand the law and when a defect is actually present vs. when a claim is misguided. Contact our team if you need help taking care of a claim.

03Aug 2022

Once you’ve chosen a piece of land for a new construction project or decided to add a new property to an existing plot, it’s time to start preparing the land. Construction is an expensive and time-intensive project, and a little bit of proper preparation ahead of time can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary work.

Of course, the best-laid plans can still result in legal issues. If you’re in that situation now, call Florida Construction Law Group at 305-227-4030 to find out how we can help.

Conduct a Survey and Evaluation

First, oversee a thorough survey and evaluation of the land. This gives you an understanding of any issues you may run into based on the environment and layout of the land itself. Identifying potential issues and boundaries can save a lot of time and money down the road.

Have a Thorough Plan and Timeline

By the time you’ve gotten to this stage, you should have a comprehensive plan for the construction project and a timeline that specifies clear milestones. With a completed survey, you can determine what you’ll want to be removed from the land—trees, shrubbery, and so on—and what you’ll want to keep. This step involves a team of designers, architects, and contractors. Each of these groups brings a separate skillset to the table, ensuring that potential concerns or problems aren’t overlooked.

Verify Access to Utilities

An important part of this process is verifying that the building will be able to be connected to water, electric, gas, and sewer service. If you’re building an additional structure on land that has an existing structure, you may assume that the second building will enjoy the same access. This isn’t necessarily the case, and you’ll want to double-check before you start. You may also want to verify that the property will be able to access Internet service.

Clear the Land

Construction companies spend a substantial amount of time getting property ready for building, and a big part of that is debris removal. Rocks, trees, shrubs, dirt, and other unwanted materials must be cleared away before building can begin. Before this happens, check with local waste removal laws to find out how you have to dispose of natural materials. Failing to adhere to local laws could result in hefty fines if you dispose of waste inappropriately or in the wrong area.

Verify Local Laws and HOA Requirements

If the property you’re building on is part of an HOA or any other association that may affect what you can do with your land, have an attorney go through your HOA covenants and restrictions. Many have specific requirements about what you can and cannot build on your land. Whether you’re building on the previously untouched property or adding an accessory structure, make sure you’re actually allowed to do so without getting hit with fines.

Facing Issues With a Contractor or Construction Company? Choose Florida Construction Law Group
You have important goals you want to accomplish with your property. Make sure that legal issues don’t keep you from reaching them. Schedule a consultation with Florida Construction Law Group now by calling us at 305-227-4030 or filling out our online contact form.

30Jun 2022

Putting together the large puzzle pieces of a construction job takes expertise and experience. When starting a project, there’s a blank slate that needs to be filled with expert vision. Construction workers need to project what materials and tools are needed to complete the job at hand.

So, what happens when the projection is off and materials are leftover at the end? The answer actually depends on a few specific circumstances surrounding the job and the contracts signed. The owner of the property/building being worked on does not automatically assume ownership of the materials nor do the contractors doing the work.

Owner provides materials

This is a rare case, but it’s worth clarifying before we get into more complicated situations. If the owner of a property who hires contractors to work on their property provides all materials, those materials will belong to the owner unless otherwise noted. Contractors are more likely to seek a supplier on their own rather than relying on the party who they are doing the project for.

If any of those materials are leftover and no payment has been made by the contractor(s) to take legal possession of the materials then materials should be left at the project site. In the rare case that owner sells all materials to the contractors then the contractors have the right to take those materials with them for use on future projects.

Fixed-price contracts

When two parties enter into a fixed-price contract, this cost will cover the price for the completed project. This means the materials and tools needed to complete the job must be provided exclusively by the contractors working on the home and will not belong to the owner who hired them.

Fixed-price contracts can be tricky because it requires both parties to be more precise. If an owner pays for a large job and the contractors are able to complete the job in less time with fewer materials than originally thought, the owner will be out the extra money. If the contractors believe the job can be completed with a limited amount of materials but end up needing additional materials to complete the work, they lose out on the extra costs of the materials. This creates a smaller margin for error.

Materials provided but not paid for

Contractors and suppliers are likely to build relationships over the course of work – leading to cases where contractors will order materials without paying upfront. Because contractors will generally order more materials than needed to cover for any mistakes or unexpected changes in the project, excess materials may be uncovered at the end of the job.

When this happens, Florida laws specifically outline the repossession of materials not used. In this case, the party who provided the materials has the right to repossess any unused materials that were never paid for. The repossession of those materials prevents the supplier from placing a lien on any property, tools, or materials in order to secure the unpaid amount.

Leftover materials are negotiable

When a party involved in the project has a direct interest in the leftover materials there’s always room for negotiation. Property owners have an interest in excess materials because there’s a chance that damage and repairs down the line will require them to have matching materials to properly patch any issues. Contractors have an interest in excess materials because they can be used at future job sites.

As they say – there’s always a price. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a fair price on excess materials if you feel they’re needed. There is no legal boundary unless neither negotiating party has a legal claim to the materials at the time of sale.At Florida Construction Law Group, we know the statutes that protect your hard work and the materials you need to complete the job. Contact us and make sure you’re protected from potential liens and other issues that can arise at the end of a job.

15Jun 2022

At Florida Construction Law Group, we understand the importance of construction projects for families, businesses, and communities. These contracts are the backbone of projects that shape the way Florida looks, feels, and welcomes people from outside our great state.

Unfortunately, there are many hands involved in construction contracts that could lead to issues with properly completing the contract. Some of these are unintentional while others are pure negligence that can halt a good project in its tracks.

Failure to properly execute the contract could result in a construction loan foreclosure. Most people think of foreclosures in regard to homes when mortgages aren’t fulfilled, but construction loan foreclosures are quite common in the construction industry. It’s important to know the causes and consequences of any involved parties failing to do their part when a construction loan is present.

Causes of construction loan foreclosures

We previously wrote about certain situations that can result in foreclosure. This is not too dissimilar from a normal property foreclosure in that the foreclosure can result from any failure to fulfill the duties within the contract.

While mortgages have a set payment schedule, construction loans often rely on “draw requests” which means a party in the agreement can request payment once a certain benchmark is completed. In this case, borrowers don’t have access to the full funds upfront but instead get funds as needed throughout the course of the project. These draw requests are the most common cause of foreclosure.

Causes of construction loan foreclosures include:

  • Failure by the construction lender to pay a proper draw request after the completion of a benchmark
  • Project benchmarks aren’t reached in a timely manner (or at all) as detailed in the terms of the loan
  • The borrower fails to secure the funds necessary to pay the loan
  • The builder fails to sell or rent the property/project, resulting in an inability to pay off the loan

These and other conditions can result in foreclosure. If you suspect any of these conditions are present or may be possible soon, it’s important to take steps to mitigate the issue and the risk of foreclosure.

Consequences of construction loan foreclosures

A construction loan foreclosure will result in the lender seizing the property and stopping the project in its tracks. This means wherever the project is, the lender can take control and could then decide to sign with a different contractor to finish the project or sell it entirely to wash their hands of the situation (which is the most common result).

In order to do this, the lender has to provide proper notice to contractors under Florida statute 713.3471. This means there should be time and negotiation prior to any final actions that result in foreclosure. The statute exists to protect contractors who are actively and continuously working on a project from having funding pulled out from under them without due notice. When contractors receive this notice, it’s important to secure the project and halt work until the situation is resolved.Florida Construction Law Group has extensive experience in both prosecuting and defending construction loan foreclosures. Whatever side you are on the deal, we can help you sort through it. The best result is to contact us and resolve the dispute before litigation and foreclosure occur.