Common Types of Construction Law Disputes You Could Face as a Contractor - construction attorney - Alves Radcliffe

Common Types of Construction Law Disputes You Could Face as a Contractor

When you take on a construction project, you take on the risk of disputes with clients, subcontractors, and other relevant entities. A client might be dissatisfied with your work, expecting more than you’re able to produce. A subcontractor might accidentally burst a water pipe and blame you for inadequate project information. These disputes could resolve with negotiations, but when large amounts of money or time is at stake, a construction attorney familiar with your local and state laws will be needed.

Below are a few common types of construction law disputes you could face.

Contract Disputes

If a client accuses you of breaching your contract or leaving it unfulfilled, you could try negotiating with them. Some clients are willing to drop the dispute for additional services or repairs without extra cost. However, if the client demands something that would cost more time or money than you’re willing to lose, you should reach out to a general consultant who specializes in construction litigation. They will thoroughly investigate the contract, project status, and determine the best approach to solve the dispute.

Indemnity Disputes

Disputes about who is responsible for damage caused during construction are quite common. Your contact might free you of responsibility from damage caused by subcontractors, but it might not be as clear cut as pointing fingers at a specific person. Subcontractors might point at suppliers for providing low quality materials, while the property owner might point at you, the general contractor, for failing to hire someone of ideal skill.

Depending on the project scope, your dispute might also extend to suppliers, manufacturers, or others involved with your project. You might face accusations from multiple people, making for a complicated resolution process. Indemnity clauses might be simply stated on contract, but in action they can be complicated to unravel without legal help.

Collections Disputes

With all construction projects comes the risk of collection disputes, including payment collection, construction liens, and stop notices. Clients might refuse to pay because of what they believe is subpar work, or they might challenge you on unforeseen extra costs. If you respond with a construction lien, locking down their property title until they pay you, they might take you to court. Avoid the inconvenience of defending your construction lien in court by negotiating with the client, offering longer payment periods or additional services if they pay in full.

Liability Disputes

Construction can be dangerous even when following state laws and regulations. You or your subcontractors could follow every guideline and fall victim to a tool malfunction or take a violent tumble off a ladder or rooftop. Accidents could also happen to property owners or people near the construction zone. Your liability clauses can guide you through a proper response, but you could still face challenges in court. You could be sued for negligence, improper construction, or anything that makes you legally responsible for injury or damage.

It’s safest to navigate disputes with an experienced construction attorney

If you need assistance with a construction law dispute, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. 

The Basics on Construction Liens and How to Deal with Them - construction attorney - Alves Radcliffe

The Basics on Construction Liens and How to Deal with Them

When you hire a contractor to oversee a construction project, they might give you a preliminary notice about their right to construction liens, also called mechanic’s liens. Construction liens are powerful legal tools to protect contractors from missing out on payment. However, liens can also be invoked when the contractor’s work is of lower quality than should be delivered. In those cases, a construction attorney can help you navigate your way through them.

What are construction liens?

A contractor can place a construction lien on personal property to ensure payment for their services. This lien puts a “hold” on the property, giving the contractor a security interest in your property title. If you find yourself under a lien, you must pay the contractor a specific amount of money to regain total ownership of your property. This makes it near impossible to refinance or sell your property.

If a lien is filed on your property, you could face foreclosure and a lien recorded on your property title. You also could face double payment on the lien if you paid the general contractor, but they didn’t pay the subcontractors, suppliers, or other laborers.

What is a valid construction lien?

In California, a contractor must provide you with a preliminary notice delivered in person or through certified mail before work begins, supplies are delivered, or 20 days afterward. If the notice is given after 20 days, the lien can require payment only for work done 20 days before the notice is given and afterward.

The claim should include:

  • Specific monetary amount owed
  • Services/products provided
  • Names of the employer and property owner
  • Address where work was done or supplies delivered
  • Contractor’s address
  • Completed and signed Proof of Service Affidavit

The lien should also be filed within the legal time frame of 90 days after work completion, when you begin using the project, or when you accept the improvement. Anytime afterward makes the lien invalid.

How can you deal with a construction lien?

If your lien is valid, you should seek a construction attorney or general consultant with experience defending against mechanic’s liens. They can help you resist foreclosure of a lien through several methods, the three most common ones listed below.

  1. Negotiating with the contractor

Some contractors are willing to accept lower payment if it’s provided over a shorter amount of time. Others might include extra services if you agree to pay the full cost.

  1. Filing a lien bond

Provided by an insurance provider, a lien bond removes the lien from your property and attaches it to the contractor’s claim instead. You would still owe the contractor payment, however it wouldn’t be tied to your property, which you could then freely refinance or sell.

  1. Filing lawsuit against the contractor

To remove a construction lien and refuse any payment to the contractor, you’ll have to testify with evidence that the contractor didn’t fulfill the contract or slacked off on their work. A construction attorney will help you gather the evidence to present a compelling case at a formal trial. 

If you need assistance with a construction lien, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

How to Find the Best Construction Attorney For Your Dispute in California - construction attorney - Alves Radcliffe

How to Find the Best Construction Attorney For Your Dispute in California

If you’ve hit a major dispute with your construction project in California, whether relating to the project or the contract, you need a construction attorney specializing in construction litigation. They can help you construct a powerful case. If you’ve never worked with one before, you can find the best one by following the steps below.

1. Look up construction attorneys local to your project

They’re familiar with construction law as it applies to property in your area of California (e.g. Bay Area, North California, Greater Sacramento). Attorneys and lawyers who are outside the area could still be well informed about your local or state laws, but local practices have precise knowledge. Local attorneys also have experience working local cases, whereas distant attorneys might not have worked a case in your area recently—or at all.

Search online for California construction attorneys near you, then make a list of those who offer litigation services related to your dispute. For example, many attorneys are focused on contract drafting and negotiation, while a few specialize in defect and contract disputes. It’s less common for attorneys to offer construction litigation, so there might only be a few with offices in your area.

2. Research their credentials and experiences

Once you have a list of local attorneys providing litigation services, research each one’s involvement in construction law cases. Many attorneys represent cases in multiple law areas, not limited to construction. Your attorney doesn’t need to exclusively work with construction cases, but they should still have extensive credentials and experience relating to litigation. It can help to have an attorney well-versed in various aspects of law, such as real estate and business and commercial law, as that can inform how they approach your case.

Go through each attorney’s website and search online for information on their education, training, and experience. All law is complex, but construction involves many entities, including general and subcontractors, developers, property owners, material manufacturers and supplies, and many more. Construction cases typically require investigation of several entities to determine where responsibility lies. 

You can tell an attorney is skilled at navigating intertwined relationships if they have a high success rate of defending or winning construction cases. Browse their website to see if they sample case results listed, and note if any of them relate to yours. See if they’ve worked with your property type, whether private, commercial, or public.

3. Read client reviews and testimonials

The best measure of an attorney’s potential success with your case is their track record. Are prior clients happy with their results? Check Yelp! Reviews, online testimonials if provided, and browse online directories of recommended lawyers. Also look for mentionings of communication style and if the experience was relatively stressless.

You can also find information on their representation style by looking at their website. For thorough representation, you might be interested in an attorney who is firm about their dedication to providing clients transparency and respect.

4. Choose the attorney that best fits your needs

Once you’ve built a list of reputable attorneys, schedule a call or in-person meeting with each one. You’ll have a brief meeting to discuss your case and determine if the attorney is a good fit. Typically, this first meeting is short and free of charge. Use every minute to ensure when you finally make a decision, you’re choosing the right attorney.

If you’re facing a construction dispute, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

What to Look For in a Cannabis Law Attorney

What to Look For in a Cannabis Law Attorney

Whether you’re seeking legal advice for a cannabis business or representation for a cannabis case, you want a quality attorney. Cannabis laws are complex and result in high penalties when violated. 

For example, in the City & County of Sacramento, homeowners have been fined an average of six-figures for illegal cannabis grown by their tenants. Many of these homeowners are innocent, but according to Sacramento law, they’re guilty regardless if they knew about the cannabis. Their only chance at dismissing the fines is through cannabis appeals for homeowners.

Before you find yourself in a tricky legal situation, partner up with an experienced cannabis law attorney. Prevention is key to protecting yourself and your property.

Review their qualifications

Each attorney you consider must have the qualifications to represent cannabis-based cases. Review their credentials for quality education, recognition from reputable news and legal sources, and professional memberships.

Education & Licenses

Look for an attorney who studied at a reputable law school and has backed their education with years of court experience in a variety of legal issues. A degree from a top-tier school doesn’t mean much if it’s not practiced well, especially if the attorney only sticks to one area of legal expertise. It’s actually preferable to have an attorney with experience in multiple legal fields, as cannabis law is a collective of practices relating to business, licensing, liability, and more.

That said, your attorney doesn’t need to have specialized in cannabis law during school. It might be reassuring if your attorney has Cannabis Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, but if they don’t and they’ve still won multiple cannabis-related cases, they could be the right fit for you.

Associations & Recognitions

All attorneys are required to be a registered member of their state’s Bar, which you can use to search for information about an attorney’s education and licenses. Top attorneys are often recognized and interviewed by lawyer magazines and law journals, and receive awards for law excellence. They’re recommended by former clients, with high ratings on multiple lawyer-ranking websites.

Look for proven results in cannabis cases

You should feel confident with your attorney’s skill. In addition to confirming their credentials, make certain they’ve had positive results with prior cannabis cases. If their case history is full of successes and pleased clients, you can reasonably expect a positive outcome should they represent you.

If you’re looking for representation in a particular case, not only for general cannabis legal advice, your attorney should have defended similar cases. For example, if you’re a property owner facing cannabis appeals because your tenants grew illegal cannabis, look for an attorney who has defended other property owners.

Represents clients in your area

Cannabis law is affected by multiple practice areas, and is further complicated by differences in federal and state laws. Some attorneys will only represent clients in a certain area, while others have larger scopes. When it comes to cannabis law, it helps to have an attorney who specializes in cases within your County & City.

If you’ve been cited for your Sacramento tenants’ illegal cultivation of cannabis, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Why You Need to Protect Yourself When Leasing to Cannabis Growers - cannabis appeals - Alves Radcliffe

Why You Need to Protect Yourself When Leasing to Cannabis Growers

Though cannabis growth in the City & County of Sacramento is legal to an extent, once it exceeds the legal limit of six plants, the landowner becomes subject to large fines. These fines are difficult to fight off without an attorney that has substantial experience in cannabis appeals.

Sacramento City & County ordinances make it illegal to grow more than six plants per residency

In an attempt to curve the organized crime that is often associated with illegal cannabis, Sacramento has signed an ordinance restricting residential grows. Sacramento residents can grow only six or fewer cannabis plants on their property. Each additional plant adds a $500 fine in Sacramento City, and $1,000 in Sacramento County.

This might sound straightforward, but when tenants are the ones growing cannabis, the blame gets shifted to the legal owners of the property: landowners. The tenants might get cited with a misdemeanor, but the landowners are the ones who have to pay the fines. Large operations can total six-figure fines, with several cases breaching a million dollars. In just two years, from August 2017 to August 2019, Sacramento City issued landowners a total of $90 million fines in illegal cannabis cultivation.

Landowners are fined even if they’re innocent

The ordinance clamps down on any illegal cannabis grow. It states:

No person shall own, lease, occupy, or have charge or possession of any property upon which cannabis is knowingly or unknowingly being cultivated, except in accordance with the following:

A. Chapter 5.150 (cannabis businesses).

B. Section 8.132.040 (residential cultivation of cannabis).

Unless landowners are leasing to a legal business, or have tenants following the six-plant restriction, they will face fines. These fines are difficult to fight without an attorney specializing in cannabis law because the appeals process takes inspiration from the quick structure of parking ticket appeals. The informality of cannabis appeals makes it near impossible for landowners to defend themselves without legal representation.

Most landowners who represent themselves leave court without dismissed fines. And in many cases, landowners with no representation are given only weeks to pay off the fines—or risk losing their property and savings.

If you’ve been cited for your tenants’ illegal cultivation of cannabis, call Alves Radcliffe, LLP at 916-333-3375 or send us an email. We have over 25 years of combined experience, and serve clients throughout Greater Sacramento, Northern California, and the San Francisco Bay Area.