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Florida Construction Law Blog

4-year bridge project began this week

If you are a South Florida contractor, chances are good that you didn't need to read it in the Miami Herald to know that a large bridge reconstruction project was about to get underway.

This week began the complex redesign of Interstate 395. The first part of the sprawling project is expected to cost $800 million and involves portions of State Road 836 and Interstate 95.

Developers, permits and regulations: Oh my!

If you are a developer in South Florida, it is possible to run afoul of regulations put in place to protect the vulnerable wetlands that make up so much of the region. As any homebuilder knows, that's a quick ticket to many legal problems that are far easier avoided in the first place.

The abundance of wetland areas can present a challenge to South Florida developers who want to always remain on the right side of the law. The permit process can be both lengthy and costly, and it is important to get it right the first time to save hassles and expense down the road.

Toxic mold a nightmare for contractors

Contractors can face liability claims for toxic mold in the structures they build. These claims can be expensive to remedy, but the homes and businesses may not be able to be occupied unless the mold is eradicated.

As with most construction law disputes, it is far easier to prevent mold than to remove its source. A contractor may need to trace the source of the mold exposure through the supply chain of subcontractors. This can be quite time-consuming and costly, as few subcontractors will readily admit that they dropped the ball.

How can I prevent a construction dispute?

A nasty construction dispute can imperil the reputation of your business. A common theme in many of these matters is that the disputes could have been easily avoided with proper planning and oversight.

Any construction project is going to have many moving parts. From suppliers to subcontractors, there are plenty of opportunities for miscommunications to arise that create hindrances to progress.

New changes released in construction contracts

Late last month, the American Institute of Architects released more than a dozen revised and new contracts they claim will better represent "trends and nuances" in the construction industry. An AIA executive announced that these changes will "ensure the design and construction industries are working under the best agreements possible for their businesses."

Revisions and changes include options for subcontractors and contractors to set conditions and terms for agreements to include multiple spheres of work. They also released updated documents they feel will more clearly address any legal issues that crop up in business relationships and joint ventures.

City of Boca Raton sued by developers

Last month, a local property management and real estate firm filed suit against the city of Boca Raton. Petitioners allege that the city refused to approve rules for the addition of as many as 2,500 new apartments and condos around the Town Center mall.

Crocker Partners seeks $137.6 million in damages for their losses. They allege that the City Council voted to reject the development of Midtown Boca, which diminishes the value of Crocker's already existing properties in addition to the value of the vacant land. Plaintiffs allege that this particular dispute decreased the value of the 67 acres owned by the company.

Should contractors sign mechanic's lien waivers?

Mechanic's lien waivers can be controversial when negotiating contracts with clients. Often, the attorneys for the clients (or the clients themselves) will request that the contractors sign mechanic's lien waivers. But is that wise for a contractor to do?

In most cases, it's not. Mechanic's liens (or materialman's supplier's or construction liens, as they are alternatively known) protect contractors and subcontractors when clients skip out on paying their bills.

Tips for a safer workplace

Contractors know and understand that the construction industry is inherently dangerous. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranks construction in the top-tier of industries with the most fatal occupational injuries. In a recent year, there were more than 10 deaths per 100,000 employees.

To keep your work crews safer, here are five tips:

How savvy are you about your construction contracts?

Contractors generally deal with different versions of four common construction contracts. These binding legal agreements protect both the contractor and the property owners in the event of disputes over the scope or quality of the work in question.

Below are the four types of contracts that are likely to be used by construction professionals.

Petition pushes for heat protection standards

Contractors in South Florida have to deal with year-round heat and the consequences it brings to outdoor construction workers. Most err on the side of caution and implement protocols to keep their employees hydrated and free of heat-related complications.

But if some civic groups get their way, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may implement heat protection standards for workers. Spearheaded by Public Citizen, a nonprofit, there are over 130 additional organizations that signed petitions to establish these standards.

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