WE UNDERSTAND CONSTRUCTION!
Does your lawyer really understand construction? Construction law is a specialty and if it’s not your lawyer’s primary practice area, then you are not receiving the most effective representation. Our lawyers know construction, and live and breathe construction law. We represent every trade in the industry, from earth movers, concrete contractors, HVAC contractors, steel fabricators, masonry installers, electricians, structural repair contractors, plumbers, truss manufacturers, roofers, painters, commercial glass fabricators and installers, fire suppression contractors, landscapers, flooring installers, millwork subcontractors, and so on. We counsel property owners, architects, engineers, developers, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers on every type of legal issue encountered on a construction project or through running a construction-related business. Our construction attorneys have been tried and tested, and are experienced in all aspects of construction law, to include enforcing payment through the mechanics lien and bond claim process; foreclosure actions; defending and/or prosecuting design claims, defect claims, and delay damage claims; and with drafting, reviewing, and modifying all types of residential and commercial contracts. We understand your industry. And we know construction law.
Pre-Lien Notices and Construction Liens
Are your account receivables getting old? If they are, you’re likely not routinely serving pre-lien notices and filing construction liens. The lien process is one of the most effective legal tools that you have to enforce payment of your unpaid invoices. That’s because a mechanics lien “clouds” the property’s title by notifying lenders and potential purchasers that you claim an interest in the property to pay for unpaid labor, materials, and/or equipment provided to the property. Lenders typically will not provide permanent financing or refinance a property that has a mechanics lien filed against it. As a result, property owners (especially on new construction) will need to resolve the lien prior to completion of the project or before the property is refinanced or sold; meaning because of the lien you get paid.
It has become the practice, as opposed to the exception, for all categories of contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and suppliers to routinely serve and file all necessary mechanics lien documents as a means to protecting their unpaid invoices. Our construction lawyers understand the mechanics lien process like no other attorneys in Texas and file more lien documents than any other firm in the state.
Contract Review and Contract Creation
Negotiate, understand, and follow your contract. Surprisingly, most contractors do not follow this simple rule. If they did, most disputes would be avoided. From this point forward, before executing someone else’s contract, have an experienced construction attorney review the contract, explain the terms, and suggest modifications that are more favorable to you. We find that even the nation’s biggest contractors will modify their standard form contract when asked. If you routinely supply the contract, then have an experienced construction attorney create a form contract that fits your specific needs and that protects your interests.
Our construction attorneys have negotiated, drafted, and litigated all types of commercial and residential construction contracts, from the standard form AIA contract to creating a commercial or residential contract specifically tailored to fit your company.
Construction Defect and Design Claims
Mistakes happen! And when they occur on a construction project, you need a law firm that understands construction and knows how to minimize your company’s exposure. Our construction lawyers routinely prosecute and defend complex construction defect claims. We understand that even if your work is defective, it does not mean that you caused the defect. Sometimes it’s the design or another trade that either caused or contributed to the defective work. We work with top forensic construction experts in defending or prosecuting your case. Our construction attorneys have handled all types of construction defect claims, to include defective plans and specifications, waterproofing deficiencies, improper roof installations, improper soil compaction, commercial structural defects, leaking curtain wall systems, and every other type of defect that can arise on a construction project.
Delay and Scheduling Claims
Delays are a fact of construction and so are threats to impose liquidated damages for the delays. But did you know that Texas courts disfavor liquidated damage provisions? It’s true and as such, they are not as easy to enforce as most contractors would like you to believe. Moreover, most of the time, it is difficult to prove who actually caused the delay or whether the delay took the project off of the critical path. Don’t bow down to the threat of liquidated damages before you consult with a construction lawyer; most of the time we can find a defense to these claims.
Don’t fear the “No Damage for Delay” provision either. Although these provisions are generally enforceable, there are five situations wherein they are not: (1) when the delay was not intended or contemplated by the parties to fall within the scope of the provision; (2) when the delay resulted from bad acts of the one seeking the benefit of the provision; (3) when the delay has extended for such an unreasonable length of time that the party delayed would have been justified in abandoning the contract; (4) when the delay is not within the specific delays enumerated by the contract; and (5) when the delay was caused by arbitrary or capricious acts. In Zachry Construction Corporation v. Port of Houston Authority of Harris County, (No. 12-0772-Aug. 29, 2014), the Texas Supreme Court recently examined the above exceptions and confirmed that a party may not relay on a “no damage for delay” provision when the delay was caused by their own bad acts or capricious conduct. Our construction lawyers were among the first in the state to apply this new ruling, which in turn led to a sizable recovery for our client. If you have experienced delay damages and you think the cause of the delay falls under one of the above exceptions, you may be entitled to recover your damages despite a “no damage for delay” provision.
Government Projects and Bond Claims
It’s true, you cannot file a lien against property owned by a public entity, like the federal government, the state, a county, municipality, or a city. These properties are commonly referred to as “public projects.” Some typical examples of public projects include schools, libraries, highways, parks, and government buildings. However, there is an equally powerful tool that you can use to protect your outstanding invoices. It’s called making a “claim against the bond” or a “payment bond claim.” To make a claim against the bond, you must first serve a “notice of claim and a sworn statement of account” to the surety and the general contractor before filing a lawsuit to enforce payment under the payment bond. Like pre-liens and liens, there are statutory deadlines of which you must follow or you will waive your right to a bond claim. Our construction attorneys are among the top in the state when it comes to enforcing bond claims.
No one wants to be involved in a lawsuit, except a lawyer. However, sometimes it just can’t be avoided. Whether it’s to foreclose on a lien, enforce a breach of contract, or to prosecute fraud, our construction attorneys are experienced in handling every type of construction-related dispute from the outset to the end. Our firm has lawsuits pending in nearly every major county through the entire state of Texas, against private companies, cities, and counties. We make the lawsuit our business, so you can focus on yours.
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