A construction attorney can be hired as a safety measure or in a litigation situation. Sometimes, contractors need a construction attorney when they are having trouble getting paid. A lot of construction cases revolve around getting paid. For instance, if an owner believes that the contractor did not satisfy their contact, they may withhold payment also known as “retainage”. As an owner, you need to know what your rights and obligations are. In some cases, an owner may be right under the circumstance that the contractor didn’t do what they said they would or if they abandoned the job. However, you should know that contractors have a constitutional right to put a lien against your property.
In construction cases, a breach of contract claim can be brought against a contractor. As such, it is important to know what that is worth to you. Knowing that, you can make an informed decision on how to handle these types of case. On the other hand, if an owner does not want to pay a contractor for work done because they got somebody else to finish the work also known as “cover”, the initial contractor has a right to get paid for the work that they did do under the Prompt Pay Act and the Trust Fund Act.
There are many issues that come up in construction cases. I usually advise owners that contractors and construction workers are very well protected in Texas. It’s even recognized under the Texas constitution, which is where the constitutional lien comes from. It is literally spelled out in the constitution that material men are entitled to get paid for their work. The law allows them to foreclose on property and sell it to pay for their work. Therefore, in any of these situations, a construction lawyer would be an essential hire.
How do I Know if I Need a Construction Attorney? Are There Some Things That I Should Handle on my own?
Anytime you’re dealing with legal documents and construction whatsoever, you should consult a construction attorney. There could be legal implications in documents, agreements, and contracts. Moreover, there are certain things that need to be in agreements. For instance, if your house is considered a homestead, there are certain protections that are involved. However, a construction attorney should be hired for any construction project regardless of whether it is residential, commercial, or governmental.
What are Some of the Most Common Types of Construction Contracts?
Some of the most common contracts include residential contracts, commercial contracts, and AIA contracts that deal with the federal and state government. The type of contract will always depend on the parties involved. A contract should dictate each party’s obligations and responsibilities, as well as the remedies in case there is a breach from either party.
What are Some of the Basic Items my Construction Attorney Will Include When Preparing a Construction Contract?
The basic items your construction attorney will include in a construction contract are the parties – who the owners and contractors are – the scope of work, and deadlines. Deadlines consist of when certain aspects of the project should be completed. Construction contracts also usually include a “time is of the essence” clause, a dispute resolution clause, the jurisdictions and laws that are going to apply, and perhaps an arbitration clause. Inputting an arbitration clause will depend on whether you’re the owner or the contractor.
What are Some Options for Resolving a Construction Contract Dispute?
I’m very transparent with my clients and tell them that there is nothing we can do that they cannot do. Essentially, a lawyer steps into the shoes and rights of their client. Of course, we are more practiced, and so it’s good to fall back on that special knowledge. However, I always advise my clients to try to work it out informally. If they have to lose a little bit of money on the project to get the whole dispute resolved, it might be worth it. Some costs may be incurred upfront, and they may be right in the dispute, but if they cannot sustain the litigation, then it may not be worth pursuing that avenue. If you’re an owner, I’d reach out to the other side and notify them on what the defects and issues are, and how to resolve them. That way, at least they’re on notice as to what the issues are and vice versa.
If you’re the contractor, get something in writing and send it to the other party. Tell them how you see the situation and what your plan of resolution is. Let them decide whether they’re going to accept your offer. That’s probably one of the most economical ways of resolving any dispute.