If you’ve ever been at the end of a “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” you know how it feels. Even though it might be just a threat with no real consequence, it begs the question: when do you need to hire a construction lawyer?
Well, as with most things, the answer is never simple. It will depend on several factors. For more details, read on.
What Do Construction Lawyers Do?
Having an expert understanding of the construction process and the wide bulk of substantive law, construction lawyers can represent a wide range of clients, including individual workers, large companies, contractors, subcontractors, designers, architects, material suppliers, and property owners. They assist their clients with an even wider range of services, which can range from planning to execution and completion. Below is a myriad of areas relevant to the construction process that they can help with (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Preparation of a budget
- Fulfilling regulatory guidelines
- Hiring a contractor
- Claims submission
Since construction lawyers are experts in both construction itself and construction law, they not only understand every stage in the process, but they also understand machinery and even the littlest things that form part of a construction project. And if they are involved in the project from the get-go, they can act preventively ensuring any litigation, arbitration, and other legal conflicts are avoided.
What Does a Construction Lawyer Cover?
There are several circumstances where consulting a construction lawyer can prove to be useful. A few of those common scenarios that require the touch of a construction lawyer include:
1. If you are being sued.
You are more likely to lose your case and less likely to minimize exposure if you choose to fight a lawsuit without the help of a lawyer. Even if a lawyer is expensive, they are your best bet.
2. If you are suing someone else.
You can’t fight a legal battle without the help of an expert. Engaging in a lawsuit without the representation of a lawyer is a very bad idea since you may be putting yourself at risk.
3. If a claim that construction is faulty is made.
Similar to the case of suing/getting sued, you should hire a construction lawyer whether you are claiming that the construction is defective, or defending against it. Construction lawyers can help avoid the litigation by explaining the situation in clear terms and finding out who is at fault.
4. If your client is defaulting on payment.
It’s a common position to be in when you work in this industry. A construction lawyer can help a business identify the most feasible and best ways of making the payments come.
5. If someone got hurt on the job.
In the case of an injury on site, both the party injured and their employer should contact a construction lawyer to help them with injury claims and workers compensation to avoid disputes getting ugly.
6. To terminate a contract
To avoid liability when exercising a feature of the contract, such as the termination clause or price escalation clause, talk to a construction lawyer so you know exactly how to proceed. The construction lawyer is also invaluable if you are trying to negotiate the litigation of a termination claim.
Some of the other major areas a construction lawyer can assist with are:
- Provide legal counsel
- Building permits
- Drafting and/or negotiating industry-standard construction contracts
- Employment immigration
- Licensing construction professionals
- Alternative dispute resolutions
- Case law summary
- Constructions liens
- Environmental matters
- Sustainable construction
- False claims act
- Fire regulations
- Fulfilling regulations for non-discrimination
- Insurances issues
- Labour issues
- Project delivery systems
- Federal construction
- Public construction
- State building codes
- State contracting procedures
- Surety Law
Do I Need to Have the Construction Contract Reviewed by a Construction Lawyer Before Signing?
This is as cut and dry as it gets: Yes, you MUST.
Ever heard of the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure”? Even if you haven’t, this is a good place to start applying it.
Some contractors, subs, suppliers, or other trades tend to use the same contracts with all their clients, and it is understandable as it makes delivering the service so much easier: Standardising is encouraged in most industries. But that does not mean the contract is perfect for your project. If you bring in a construction lawyer, he or she will be able to review the contract and snuff out any potential legal issues before they even pop up.
Who Needs a Construction Lawyer?
Essentially, anyone who dabbles with construction may need a construction attorney at some point or another. A construction lawyer does not have to be hired only when you are facing litigation issues. Instead, you can choose to be proactive and hire them from the beginning. This is the best way to save yourself time, stress, and money.