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What Is a Construction Lawyer?

A construction lawyer is an attorney who works on building projects and advises clients on various aspects of construction law. Construction law covers the body of rules and regulations that govern the design, planning, and construction of buildings and other structures. Overall, a construction lawyer is someone you'll want to turn to for any issues that may arise during your construction project.

Since construction lawyers have specialized knowledge about construction contracts , they can advise about delays, defects, payment issues, and variations. A construction lawyer can help individuals at every level of the contracting chain. These individuals include the following:

  • Principals, such as developers, occupiers, or property owners
  • Head contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Construction managers
  • Project managers
  • Trade contractors
  • Suppliers
  • Consultants

Who Needs a Construction Lawyer?

You should consult with a construction lawyer when you work on a building project. A construction lawyer can handle various legal needs by working with you on government contracts, employment law, and construction defects, among other examples. Additionally, a construction lawyer can help create contracts that ensure you follow regulatory guidelines and represent you in negotiations. A construction lawyer can represent you in court if necessary.

Examples of occasions when you should work with a construction lawyer include the following:

  • You are beginning a new project, and you need to be sure you follow building regulations on the local and federal levels.
  • You need to file a lawsuit.
  • Someone has filed a lawsuit against you.
  • You require a new permit.
  • You must get government permission before proceeding with work.
  • You need to hold a town hearing.
  • You are having a dispute with an employee or employer.
  • You are concerned about environmental regulations.
  • You need to create a legal document such as a contract.

All in all, you can benefit from consulting with a construction lawyer if you are involved with any step of a private, public, or federal construction project. Not only can construction lawyers protect you from legal conflict and represent you if needed, but they can also help keep you on track with timelines and budgets while making sure you follow imposed building codes.

Construction Law on the Local, State, and Federal Levels

Construction law has implications on the local, state, and federal levels. Construction lawyers may work in all areas of construction law or specialize in one or two areas.

At the federal level, construction lawyers may deal with worksite requirements and hiring practices, including employment laws and workplace safety laws. State construction law covers regulations for employment, safety, and the environment. Local or county laws may include noise restrictions and zoning ordinances.

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What Does a Construction Lawyer Do?

A construction lawyer can specialize in various areas of construction law.

Drafting and Negotiating Contracts

A company or business owner enters into a binding contract when retaining contracting services. A construction lawyer will create a contract that:

  • Is legally valid
  • Accounts for proper notice requirements
  • Includes reasonable expectations
  • Accounts for site conditions
  • Details insurance requirements
  • Builds in scheduling delays and other unforeseen circumstances

If a business already has a contract in place, a construction lawyer can also create revisions to the contract.

Protecting Payments

Payment disputes are a common issue that arises with construction projects. A construction lawyer can ensure the contractor gets the full payment promised and the terms of the contract cover all costs incurred, such as labor, equipment, and materials.

An attorney may take civil action to recover unpaid sums. The attorney can also file mechanics liens and claims against a payment bond to cover private and public projects. On the other hand, a construction lawyer can also defend individuals who have had a claim for payment brought against them.

A construction lawyer familiar with construction finance can represent lenders or borrowers by assisting with loan documents or negotiating escrows. A construction lawyer can also advise contractors or property owners entering into a lender agreement.

Dealing With Liens

A lien is a claim against an asset. Liens are usually used as collateral to satisfy a debt, and they often come up in construction. ( Here is an article about liens.)

A construction lawyer can represent a contractor, subcontractor, or property owner to file, respond to claim disputes, or discharge claims of lien. Additionally, a construction lawyer can help a claimant through all aspects of the process, including developing, serving, and filing claims while preparing the correct documentation.

Once a claim is clear, a construction lawyer can assist with litigation to resolve the cause of a dispute. A construction lawyer may also attempt to obtain recoveries if two parties can't settle a dispute.

Assisting With Proposals

A construction lawyer can help with requests for construction proposals, including the following:

  • Bidding for proposals
  • Contract interpretation
  • IFB, or invitation for bid, which you can learn about in this article covering invitations for bid

In unawarded proposal cases, a construction lawyer can also assist with protesting or challenging the decision.

Submitting Claims

A construction lawyer can submit claims for added compensation or time. The attorney can also submit claims for unforeseen circumstances, including the following:

  • Defects in design
  • Delays
  • Disruptions
  • Unanticipated site conditions
  • Other interferences with work

A construction lawyer will ensure any claims fulfill legal requirements and contractual obligations.

Terminating Contracts

A construction lawyer can defend claimants in case of wrongful termination or prevent wrongful termination from happening in the first place. If a contract needs termination, a construction lawyer can determine justifiable termination while ensuring that all parties follow proper procedures to ensure termination is successful. A construction lawyer can also represent the parties in subsequent arbitration or litigation.

Administrating Projects

Some construction lawyers provide on-site training to help contractors or businesses to avoid legal issues. Firms may consult a construction lawyer before making decisions that can have legal consequences. If problems arise while the project is in progress, a construction lawyer can help resolve the issue before it turns into a legal case.

Representing Design-Build Participants

Design-build projects are increasingly popular among project owners, and a construction lawyer can represent participants on a variety of projects. In addition to negotiating and drafting design-build contracts, a construction lawyer can help resolve disputes and deal with any challenges during the project.

Assisting With Public and Government Contracting

A construction lawyer can offer invaluable support for various aspects of public and government projects, including the following:

  • Offering representation for supply contracts
  • Helping with contract negotiations
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance
  • Assisting with litigation
  • Advising parties about a construction agreement on defects, delays, or variations

Obtaining Licensing

Requirements for licensing may change over time, and a construction lawyer can provide necessary assistance in navigating licensing laws. A construction lawyer can help fulfill application requirements and offer representation before review boards. A construction lawyer can also address complaints if problems arise.

Closing Out Projects

Developers often require assistance with different aspects of project closeout. These items may include the following:

  • Closing relationships with owners
  • Ending subcontractor contracts
  • Obtaining final payments

To bring a project to a successful conclusion, a construction lawyer can work with all of the following parties:

  • Designers
  • Lenders
  • Representatives
  • Suppliers

A construction lawyer is a crucial part of any building project, helping with your construction project from start to finish. Working with an experienced lawyer when you need to create a contract for your construction project will help ensure that you meet all local, state, and federal requirements while keeping your project on track for success.

ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

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