When is Lawyer Representation Truly Necessary?

Are you about to start a construction project and wondering whether hiring a Construction Lawyer is a necessary expense to add to your budget?  Wondering whether lawyers are recommended on large projects from start to finish or should lawyers be on the back burner until called upon?  Hiring a Construction Lawyer prior to beginning a construction project may become essential to protecting your rights, assets, and property, if (or when) faced with a defective construction project, an absent construction crew, or even a non-paying property owner.

The following is a common scenario, the type of which my firm has encountered numerous times:

A distressed homeowner calls the firm in a panic seeking help for a home renovation project that has gone substantially over budget.  Adding insult to injury, the newly constructed home – less than one year old – was riddled with substantial defects, including faulty beams, leaking pipes, and  cracked foundation, all of which have now made living in the home a dangerous risk.  The contractor refused to take responsibility for the defects and subsequent damage to the home and has now stopped responding to the homeowner’s calls and emails.  Unfortunately, the homeowner, who did not seek guidance from a lawyer before entering into the construction contract, or even during the construction project, is now left with a defective $1.5 million home and zero budget to pursue legal redress for the defective work.

Why is it necessary to hire a Construction Lawyer for projects of all sizes, including home renovations? Despite the best efforts to draft solid contracts that anticipate and address potential problems, disputes may still arise.  While the vast majority of design and construction contractors do excellent work, there are circumstances where a professional’s work does not meet acceptable standards or a construction contractor provides poor workmanship or does not meet their obligations under the contract or as agreed to with the owner.  Below are some common disputes that may arise during or after construction.

  • Scope of Work
  • Extras/Change Order
  • Defective construction
  • Delay claims
  • Contractor termination
  • Incomplete construction
  • Defective house lifting
  • Payment disputes
  • Mechanic’s liens
  • Insurance claims

Whether it is a residential new construction, remodeling, or a more complex project, such as a house lifting or commercial building construction, construction litigation firms can help clients by drafting, reviewing, and negotiating design and construction agreements that both the owner and vendors mutually benefit from.  To learn more about Construction Law and Legal Services for Property Owners, download our free Construction for Homeowners Guide here.

The author, John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: [email protected] or (516)462-7051

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