Construction law deals mainly with contract law and involves all the rules and regulations that govern the designing, planning and construction of structures and buildings. All aspects of the litigation process are covered, from initial bidding on a project, to negotiation and the formation of the contracts and agreements.
Various issues relating to construction can emerge under federal, state and local laws. Lawyers can work in all areas of construction law or specialize in one or two.
Employment and workplace safety laws kick in at the federal level, together with worksite requirements and hiring practices. At the state level there is also a range of environmental, safety and employment regulations. Finally at the local level, there are restrictions on noise as well as zoning ordinances.
Because construction law is broad, the state and federal governments have a range of laws that govern construction issues. One main set of regulations is the building codes. These codes set forth the standards and requirements for developers in every state.
Building codes are meant to improve safety by ensuring tradespeople install electrical, plumbing, and other fittings with consistency. If a contractor undertakes the installation in accordance with the building codes, the chances are that a catastrophic collapse or any major failures will not happen.
A construction lawyer provides counsel to contractors on following the set regulations. They also defend a client accused of endangering the public when failing to build by the code.
Contract law is another aspect of construction law. In contract law, the contractor and the owner are required to act in good faith in the performance of their contractual obligations. Courts have established that the contractor owes the proprietor a duty to provide services in the desired workmanlike manner. It requires the contractor to provide a warning to the owner if the construction specifications or the design may have damaging results.
Likewise, the courts have established that an owner has a duty to collaborate with the contractors. The owner’s duty to collaborate also requires that the owner does not interfere with or purposefully delay the contractor’s performance.
What Does a Construction Lawyer Do?
Construction lawyers provide legal advice and representation concerning construction projects and buildings. They offer guidance to organizations at various levels of the contracting chain.
Some of the people they serve include developers, property owners, project managers, tenants, trade contractors, consultants and suppliers. Lawyers in this niche have expert knowledge on construction contracts and can advise any party to a construction agreement and on issues like variations, delays and defects.
Some construction lawyers provide representation in courts, answering questions, filing pleadings, and responding to complaints. The lawyer also submits and drafts responses for requests to interrogatories and requests for documents. Lawyers may also review documents like floor plans, contract inspection reports and blueprints and utilize them as evidence in a court of law while defending clients or prosecuting a case.
Lawyers in this area can handle more serious issues on workplace accidents and wrongful death claims. Such accidents may require them to file civil suits and compensation claims on behalf of their clients. In most cases, they liaise with the employee’s insurer and represent workers when evaluating liability and damages. If the lawyer can’t achieve an out-of-court deal with the party, they will have to seek lawful redress by taking the employer to court.
Other than litigating on behalf of individuals, attorneys provide legal advice on property line disputes, general construction problems and project bidding amongst other issues. Companies hire construction lawyers to consult when they require guidance when drafting legal documents like liquidation agreements or purchase agreements.
Areas of Practice
Lawyers who deal with construction law engage themselves in numerous activities like:
Lawyers in this field are called to resolve disputes between parties in a contract. They use their experience and knowledge to draft provisions or negotiate for a resolution. They act as intermediaries before mediators, arbitration panels or any other dispute resolution channels.
They assist and represent their clients on matters concerning bids. Where there are disparities, they represent their parties before the procurement review board as well as other regulatory bodies.
Lawyers understand construction finance and represent lenders and borrowers in the payment process. They help in negotiating escrows and loan documents. They also advise contractors and property owners to enter into agreements with lenders.
Contract Preparation and Negotiation
To handle any litigation issues, construction lawyers prepare contracts and negotiate terms of agreement for the parties involved. They also help in customizing contracts to suit particular needs of their customers.
Lawyers have an in-depth understanding of the licensing laws and the importance of obtaining licensing. They help clients navigate through the requirements and represent them before license review boards.
Payment and Performance Bonds
Lawyers help resolve performance and payment bond claims. They also handle disputes around them.
Construction lawyers also handle issues to deal with liens, project administration, project closeout, public or government contracting, termination and default among other issues. A construction lawyer is expected to undergo training by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in law, taking the LSAT, joining an ABA-Approved Law School, becoming an intern at a firm, earning a juris doctor degree and passing the bar exam.
Construction lawyers earn a decent income and they lead exciting careers. Each day brings new challenges. With the growing real estate market, there is plenty of new construction. There is high demand for experienced construction lawyers to help in navigating the laws and regulations in the construction industry.