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Florida Construction Law Blog

Workers' claims could embroil you in lawsuits

Contractors who are also business owners frequently find themselves wearing many different hats. They must be ready to go out into the field and inspect the project underway, but they must also be able to play the role of administrator of their contracting businesses. When a disgruntled client complains about a problem, they have to also be able to quickly and civilly respond to the situation.

Playing all of those roles can become wearisome, but it's all in a day's work for those in the contracting business.

You could face lawsuits in the wake of Hurricane Dorian

As Labor Day weekend dawns in South Florida, Hurricane Dorian continues to bear down on the eastern coastline. This certainly is a storm capable of wreaking much destruction to our area, and there will likely be extensive repairs and rebuilding needed in its wake.

In some cases, that can pose some sticky legal situations for local contractors. Typically, after major hurricanes strike, a plethora of subcontractors and construction crews flood into the most damaged regions.

What is a 'Damage To Your Work' exclusion?

It's essential to a contractor's business model to subcontract work to other local builders. No single contractor can manage to wear all the hats that are demanded on a busy home construction site.

So, what happens when flaws in a subcontractor's work allegedly cause damage to the property? Who bears the liability for any ensuing claims?

Could technology help you fight bad faith claims?

Contractors often face situations where they wind up as defendants in lawsuits. Litigation that arises from job disputes, whether they are with the clients, workers or subcontractors, can be both burdensome and costly to defend.

It's obviously far better to avoid a potentially litigious situation than it is to launch a defense to one, which is one reason why many contractors are increasingly turning to technology to further insulate them from the threat of litigation.

Get your legal ducks in line on big construction projects

The bigger the construction project on which you embark, the more opportunities there are for something to go wrong somewhere down the line.

That's why it is so essential to make sure that you involve your construction law attorney in the pertinent aspects of your business. For instance, if you are about to sign a major contract, make sure that your attorney reviews its terms before ever signing anything.

Management tips for construction crews

Proper management of your crew is essential to your construction company's bottom line. But because you can't be everywhere at all times, you have to make sure that you hire the right people for supervisory positions.

Below are some tips for better managing your construction crew.

A good contract can fend off construction disputes

Construction disputes can be the bane of a contractor's existence. These disputes can arise from subcontractors failing to comply with the agreed-upon specifications with the project, supply-chain delays or many other factors.

All construction disputes have the potential to cost contractors a great deal of money. They can also spawn secondary disputes with the property owners who are understandably peeved about delays arising from the disputes with the subs.

Dealing with clients who micromanage the project

Every contractor has a horror story about working with micromanaging clients who need almost daily reassurance that the project is chugging along seamlessly. Clients who need a lot of handholding and updating can actually slow a project down considerably. After all, for every call that you return, that's minutes diverted from your supervision of the project — and those minutes add up.

The best way to protect yourself and your company from these types of clients is to include a clause in the contract that specifies how frequently and under what circumstances you will update the client on the progress. You may agree on an update every two weeks, but if a supplier backs out or fails to deliver, your client has a right to know this because it could significantly impact the deadline of the project.

What makes a contractor successful?

There are a lot of contractors in South Florida, and some are definitely more successful than others. But just what rubric determines the success or failure of a contractor?

It's an important consideration, as each contractor seeks to stand head and shoulders above the competition. One industry leader offered some thoughts on the matter earlier this year at the convention for the Associated General Contractors of America. They include these key points:

What constitutes breach of contract?

A South Florida homeowner hires you to oversee a major renovation project. At first, all appears to be fine between you and the clients. But as time passes, you begin to question your decision to sign a contract with the homeowners.

Maybe they are suddenly unable or unwilling to meet the terms of the payment schedule. Or perhaps "scope creep" has reared its ugly head and fomented trouble between you and your client. Either way, you are hovering in the danger zone of breach of contract.

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