Florida Construction Law & Litigation

The construction industry in Florida is a vigorous and often difficult environment. The economic climate, legal issues, regulatory issues and payment problems are only a few examples of the challenges that must be faced every day. General contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, sureties, owners, architects and engineers must be aware of the legal issues that impact their businesses or property.

Rapid change often brings unforeseen pitfalls, problems and mistakes. Completion of a project on schedule and on budget is becoming more difficult. This is why Di Pietro Partners provides its clients with ready access to legal advice on many and varied issues such as:

  • Common Industry Contract Forms
  • Preparation and negotiation of contracts
  • Notices and Waivers
  • Claims of Lien
  • Performance and payment bonds
  • Construction claims
  • Bid mistakes and protests
  • Negotiations
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Litigation
  • Surety and Insurance Law
  • Defective work
  • Terminations
  • Differing site conditions
  • Payment disputes
  • Change orders

Understanding Construction Law and How an Attorney Can Help

Construction law is a general term that encompasses the vast scope of operations related to construction projects, from residential to commercial building. This extensive area of the law helps to prevent possible disputes from occurring while ameliorating the ones which do arise during the building process.

Because the construction of a residential home or building requires a considerable amount of coordination between many professionals, planning is a must. As a result, much of this law is comprised of contracts (the agreements made between the owner, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, engineers, architects, developers and so on). That is why it is extremely wise to hire an attorney during the planning phases to ensure that you are protected throughout the entire project. It is always far easier to address an issue before it becomes a problem versus after.

Many people underestimate the value of hiring an attorney prior to signing a contract rather than when a disagreement begins. They view this as an added expense. However, doing so is actually a relatively modest investment when considering the problems taking this step can actually prevent. Legal battles, complacent workers, delays in building, defective work, and cost overruns are just a glimpse into the myriad of issues you can potentially avoid when you hire an experienced construction attorney from the beginning of a project.

There are many legal regulations and required safety protocols associated with construction sites. This is largely due to the serious risks associated with heavy machinery that’s used throughout job sites. In fact, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific safety guidelines for various construction equipment such as Overhead and Gantry Cranes.

If these safety guidelines aren’t followed, accidents may occur and result in catastrophic injury. These accidents can cost a construction company millions in injury settlements let alone irreparable damage to their reputation. As a result, having a construction law attorney ensure that proper regulations are being followed is key for preventing litigation.

How can a lawyer help you with building contracts?

Once you hire an attorney at the very start of your project, you are already at an advantage. A construction lawyer can help you determine the most profitable financial terms for you in a contract. They are also experts at determining your risk factors and helping to mitigate your downside. A lawyer can also help you identify if you are at risk of losing money on your project and how much you will be responsible for in the event that something goes wrong. In addition, your attorney can assist in managing certain risks that you may undoubtedly need to take when undergoing a complex project.

Another invaluable tool your lawyer can provide is the ability to assess unfair terms or conditions that are stated in the contract. There is no ideal contract, but both sides must be willing and able to compromise so that each party is in agreement. Any unrealistic, oppressive, or difficult to achieve terms should be eliminated and may even be considered a violation of the law. Do not rush into signing a contract simply to get the project moving or to collect your first check. This could place you in a very compromising—and expensive—position.

Because there are so many parties involved in the process of building, Florida construction law is a very complicated. Including some of the main issues we have already looked at, there are also insurers, design professionals, lenders, sureties, construction managers, and governmental entities to consider. Each link added to the chain increases the complexity of the project and the potential for conflict. If you do not have a construction law attorney backing you up, you may encounter some very costly circumstances. As mom always said, better safe than sorry, and this is exactly what she was talking about.

Why should you hire an attorney?

There are many responsibilities that a construction attorney will undertake upon being engaged. A good attorney will handle all the legal issues involved with the entire project including financing, negotiating and creating contracts, and dealing with any settlement claims after the project has been completed. They can also help with managing the compliance of state and local entities, claims of lien, and offering suggestions for financing options. The list of responsibilities a construction attorney will undertake is significant and hiring one can be the best choice you have ever made if you are involved in this complex industry.

Many people think that you need to hire a construction attorney when disputes occur or when someone breaches a contract during the construction process. This is a common misconception. Hiring an attorney at the beginning of the project is not only a preventative measure but can also be a huge time and money saver in the event that a future dispute occurs. It is when attorneys are hired to do damage control that the bills start to add up.

You see, when dealing with construction, most of the time everyone involved is on a strict timeline for completion. When a conflict ensues, it could potentially put your project on hold which could end up being a costly circumstance. You can also encounter court costs, attorney fees, claim compensation and more. However, if you take the initial step of hiring a lawyer at the beginning of the project, you will not need to waste any time bringing the attorney up to speed on the details of the situation at hand. He can then go straight to addressing the issue immediately.

Whether you decide to hire a construction law attorney prior to beginning your project or when a dispute occurs, it is always best to look for an experienced lawyer that understands the complexities of construction litigation. It will save you a lot of money and headaches in the end and you will learn that an attorney many times can be your best friend and most trusted ally.

Construction law also includes the negligence of a contractor. This means that a contractor might have installed a faulty piece of equipment when renovating a building or when constructing a new one. The contractor might also be using materials that are not suitable for the environment they are constructing property in, which could lead to damage to the building further on down the road. Any negligence by a contractor falls under construction law and can bring about a lawsuit against the contractor. Some contractor negligence can cause serious bodily injury to construction workers on the job site, to people working or living in the building they constructed, or even death. Construction law protects not only the clients and customers of contractors but also the contractors and the construction workers. Anyone that works in the construction industry is protected by construction law or has to follow construction law in the jurisdiction they are working within.

Di Pietro Partnersis familiar with the construction industry. His father is a local general contractor and structural engineer. David’s father has owned his own construction company in South Florida since 1988. David worked for his father’s company for many years prior to beginning his career in law.