What Does a Construction Lawyer Actually do?
- Construction lawyers assist the parties to negotiate a construction contract
- Construction lawyers are not real estate lawyers
- Have a construction lawyer involved early
- Articulate the important terms and conditions in your contract before you start receiving bids
Construction lawyers help owners, developers and contractors in the process of negotiating a construction contract. They resolve disputes with contractors, architects and engineers during the course of a construction project. A construction lawyer can help you lodge claims against insurance policies or even sue the engineer, architect, contractor or any subcontractors if there are construction defects that happen during the course of construction or even after the project is completed.
Limitations of construction Lawyers
Construction lawyers are not real estate lawyers. They can’t help you with the closing that involves buying or selling of real property. They usually don’t get involved in the business components or transaction related to the purchase of the property on which the project will be built.
When is the best time to hire a construction lawyer?
We recently received a call from high-end homeowners. They are interviewing three contractors to build their multi-million dollar custom home. They decided, rightly so, to hire us before they obtain their bids, before they pick their contractor, before they hire their architect and engineer, and before their construction starts.
Getting a lawyer involved early, provides you guidance about the key terms to include in the construction contract as well as the provisions to include in any architect or engineering agreements. These terms will protect you if something were to go wrong during or after construction. For instance, what happens when you hand a contractor your construction contract after you had settled on a price. These contractors may not have been expecting to see all these terms and conditions in a contract. The best way to handle this is to prepare the construction contract in advance, present it to two or three bidding contractors and tell them to make sure that their price includes signing your form of agreement. You want to be protected from claims from unpaid vendors and indemnity obligations, and you want to know when work is going to start, a schedule and milestones. All of these things are important terms and conditions in your contract and they need to be articulated in advance before you start receiving bids from contractors.