5 Ways a Construction Attorney Can Save Your Project Money - Alves Radcliffe

5 Ways a Construction Attorney Can Save Your Project Money

Putting together a construction project takes a significant amount of planning. With all of the moving pieces that you’re managing as you get ready to begin, you may not have realized that you should have one more member on your team: a construction attorney. Learn more about why you need one by your side. 

1. Analyzing and Negotiating Contracts

Construction contracts are the basic groundwork for every project you undertake and can include crucial information like timelines, payments, and termination agreements. Unless you’re well-versed in construction law and the legal requirements in your area, you might not be sure if the contract in front of you is a good one. 

A construction attorney will be able to analyze the contract and negotiate better deals, if necessary. They’ll also point out the various details that could affect you in the future so that you’re fully aware of what you’re signing.

2. Evaluating Risks and Implementing Safeguards

Construction sites are some of the most dangerous worksites. Each year, there are 197,300 non-fatal injuries on construction sites throughout the country, making it essential that your site complies with all regulations and remains as safe as possible for everyone. However, that’s easier said than done. 

With a construction attorney helping you, you can ensure that everything is up to state and national standards so that you’re protected, even if someone does get injured. The protection they offer goes further, too, since they can handle permits, environmental regulations, and more. You’ll be able to get guidance on all potential issues you could run into. 

If an issue arises and you end up having to deal with a lawsuit, having the help of a construction attorney saves you time, money, and stress. They’ll be able to represent you throughout the process, including if you end up in court. 

3. Dispute Resolution Strategies

It’s common to have partnerships in place for construction projects. This can sometimes mean dealing with disputes that arise because of poor project coordination or management, financial disagreements, and even missed project deadlines. 

If a dispute arises, you need to have a construction lawyer ready to assist all parties reach an amicable solution. With their help, you may be able to maintain the partnership and potentially save money. 

4. Contract Breaches and Terminations

Construction lawyers can also deal with contract breaches and terminations. It’s not uncommon for construction projects to flounder because of failures to comply with construction agreements. 

You can face claims of poor construction, which are common and could end with you facing a lawsuit. With a lawyer by your side, it’s possible to navigate the breach and potentially fix it. 

5. Delay Prevention

Delays can be deadly for a project, especially if there are clauses in the contract that are time-sensitive. The experience that a lawyer brings to the project helps prevent delays from the start. 

Not only can a lawyer ensure the contract works for you, but they can also help avoid issues that lead to having to halt construction. They also prevent delays by more easily managing disputes among the various parties involved.

Having Experienced Construction Lawyers by Your Side

By having a construction lawyer ready to help you from the start of your project, you can avoid some of the most common pitfalls, including disputes and regulatory mistakes. At Alves Radcliffe, we’re here to help prevent issues while also aiding you in managing any that do arise during the project. Contact our team today to begin.

How to Avert Risk Construction Attorney Strategies - Alves Radcliffe

How to Avert Risk: Construction Attorney Strategies

Any construction project comes with certain risks. Although not all projects may carry the exact same risks, all construction project risks have the same destructive potential. When a potential risk becomes actualized, the construction project can stall until the matter is resolved. Depending on the situation, any matter may take weeks or months to fix, especially if litigation is involved.

Therefore, managing and avoiding risks becomes a major goal for all participants in a construction project. Employing a skilled construction attorney is a key component of an effective risk management strategy.

Understanding Construction Project Risks

Any construction project can have numerous risks. These risks are shared among all contractors, subcontractors, architects, and other participants in the project. Some common risks present in many construction projects include the risk of:

  • Contract breaches and disputes
  • Shortages in equipment and materials
  • Labor disruptions
  • Regulatory, permit, and legal compliance issues

When these and similar risks surface during your project, they can bring whatever is going on to a halt. For example, a supply chain disruption means that your crews will not have the materials needed to continue working. They are unable to make progress until the matter is resolved, costing considerable time and financial resources.

Effective Strategies for Risk Mitigation

Mitigating the risks present in your construction project means reducing the likelihood that a potential risk will develop into an actualized one that threatens your project’s progress. A basic three-step strategy for addressing these construction project risks would be as follows:

  • Identify all possible risks to the project’s successful completion
  • Prioritize the more likely risks, as not all risks are equally likely to be realized
  • Develop strategies with your construction attorney to address the likely risks

Due to the complexity of construction projects, involving a skilled construction attorney as part of your risk-mitigation strategy is also a good approach. A lawyer with experience will be able to help you see the risks that are present outside your company or operation and strategize about effective ways of addressing these risks. When issues do arise, an attorney can help you take legal and extrajudicial actions to resolve them.

Enhancing Coordination With Your Construction Attorney: Key Tip

Working closely with your construction attorney throughout your project is crucial to identifying potential risks to your project’s completion. However, maintaining a good working relationship where you can provide your attorney with important information and receive timely legal counsel takes planning and effort.

Speak with your construction attorney about finding regular times to consult with one another about the construction project. Regular communication allows you to update your attorney about progress and issues that have arisen. Your attorney can share any updates as to problems they were working on, and you both can develop a plan to tackle the questions and issues most important to you and the project.

Prioritize this time with your construction attorney, as it is key to resolving issues early and preventing other risks from becoming problems at all.

Make Alves Radcliffe Part of Your Risk Mitigation Strategy

When you need a skilled and experienced construction attorney for your project, turn to Alves Radcliffe. We use our extensive knowledge and resources to help keep your project moving forward with minimal delay and disruption. We do this by helping identify and mitigate risks that threaten the project’s completion.

Where issues develop, our team is capable and qualified to seek a speedy and positive resolution through the court system and other avenues.

Learn more about our services by contacting us today for a consultation.

Building Dreams Why Your Project Needs Informative Legal Counsel - Alves Radcliffe

Building Dreams: Why Your Project Needs Informative Legal Counsel

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the construction industry creates structures with a combined value of approximately $2.1 trillion each year. With so many projects happening throughout the year, it’s more important than ever for any construction project to have access to informative legal counsel. 

Take a closer look at why a construction accident attorney can be an essential resource for your project.

Grasping the Purpose of a Construction Attorney

One reason general contractors and property owners may choose not to consult a construction attorney for a project is that they are not aware of what exactly a construction attorney does. 

Construction lawyers represent the parties involved in any construction project in California, such as contractors, materials suppliers, and architects, and can assist with all aspects of the project. The general purpose of any construction attorney is to keep the project moving forward while also ensuring their client’s rights and interests are protected. 

An attorney can do this by litigating an issue that arises during the project. The lawyer would seek a resolution that minimizes costs and disruptions to their client and the project.

However, a skilled construction attorney can also act as a preventive problem-solver. By identifying potential legal issues that may cause delays before they come to pass, your construction attorney can help prevent these problems from causing delays and adding to the project’s costs.

Legal Considerations in Construction Projects

In any given project, complicated legal issues can arise that require insightful legal analysis to resolve. Some common examples of legal issues that any construction project would need to navigate include:

  • Obtaining building permits from local and state authorities
  • Negotiating contracts between the various parties
  • Addressing violations of those contracts’ provisions
  • Interpreting and applying local, state, and federal laws, rules, and regulations

Not every construction project will face the same legal obstacles as other projects do. But you can anticipate that a construction project of any size will have at least some legal issues, the resolution of which can benefit from a construction attorney’s attention.

Advantages of Partnering With a Construction Attorney

Legal issues can arise with even the most well-planned construction projects, due to the nature of the industry. These issues can not only impact the timeline and overall costs of the project, but they can also force a project to come to a halt completely.

Some people attempt to resolve such issues on their own, thinking that the issue is not too serious or that an attorney would cost too much to justify. But a small issue can rapidly transform into a major one, and trying to navigate the complex landscape of construction law can end up costing you much more than attorney’s fees.

A construction attorney has specific knowledge and experience in the industry, which allows them to quickly diagnose a situation and determine the best course of action to address it. An attorney can advocate for you in and out of the courtroom and ensure any obstacle you encounter is navigated as efficiently as possible.

Partnering with an attorney is an investment that can greatly pay off in your favor in the long run.

Your Trusted Construction Attorney in California

Whether your construction project in California is big or small, Alves Radcliffe is a trusted partner with demonstrated experience helping clients. We can help you potentially avoid costly and cumbersome legal battles and prevent unnecessary delays for your project. 

As skilled negotiators and litigators, we can also help you resolve matters that have already developed and are now affecting your project. We will work toward a speedy and positive outcome at the negotiating table and if necessary, in court. Contact Alves Radcliffe to get started today.

Permits A Construction Attorney’s Advice for Navigating the Approval Process - Alves Radcliffe

Permits: A Construction Attorney’s Advice for Navigating the Approval Process

Construction regulations differ in every state, but one thing is consistent — you need to get the appropriate permits before doing any construction work. Permitting is a legal process that can often feel like navigating a puzzle.

Decoding the Permit Puzzle

What permits do you need to construct a new building or add to a building? The answer often depends on exactly what is being added, the location’s zoning, and what the new construction will be used for. The approval process is likely to differ every time you start a project.

The Legal Landscape

When applying for appropriate permits, you need to contact the right authorities (typically, local building authorities), file the appropriate paperwork, and pay all fees. Your approval paperwork will need to account for:

There are enough factors that even if you are well-prepared, the process could potentially take anywhere from six months to a year.

Signs You Need a Construction Attorney for Permits

Arguably, it is always safer to have a construction attorney guiding you through the process when applying for permits. But you may feel you don’t need one for relatively simple jobs that don’t require immediate attention. 

The jobs that most require the assistance of a construction lawyer are ones where you need an expedited permit, like construction work for emergency repairs.

Permit Success

The importance of successfully getting a permit before starting a construction project can’t be understated. 

In Colusa County, for example, the penalty for failing to obtain a permit is $5,000 per missing permit plus the cost of any permits that were required. That is an expensive reminder to get permits. Additionally, you could have your contractor’s license revoked for failing to get the appropriate permits.

Proactive Legal Measures

If your goal is to get all required permits with as little red tape as possible, the best approach is to be proactive. Hire an experienced California construction attorney and make sure all your paperwork is in order before contacting the local permitting authorities. At a minimum, you will need:

  • Blueprints of planned construction, including electrical and plumbing installations
  • Site plans showing any current buildings
  • Individual floor plans, including foundation plans
  • Environmental and land surveys
  • A projected timeline for the construction

Your attorney will help ensure you have all the right documentation and will assess the project legally, identifying all the approvals you need before you begin work.

Choosing the Right Construction Attorney

California is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of lawyers. How can you know which is the best for your project?

You need an experienced construction attorney who will handle the bureaucracy so you can focus on your contractor business. This means you need a lawyer who will:

  • Craft an application and submit all documentation to the right legal authorities
  • Track the progress of the permit process and regularly contact those authorities
  • Respond quickly and accurately to any questions by permitting authorities
  • Notify you immediately upon permit issuance so you can get started promptly
  • Oversee the legal side of the project to ensure you remain compliant throughout

An attorney who simply files the paperwork and does nothing more will leave you in the lurch.

Take the Permitting Process Seriously

Getting a permit for a construction process can be a nightmare, or it can be a breeze. An experienced construction lawyer from Alves Radcliffe will help you check all the boxes and speed up the process. Contact our law firm today to speak to a construction attorney.

Blueprints When and Why You Need a Construction Attorney - Alves Radcliffe

Blueprints: When and Why You Need a Construction Attorney

Construction projects are complex. While planning a construction project, you must set out legal boundaries with clear construction contracts. If a dispute arises, you must protect your interests and try to resolve the dispute fairly. 

Even after the project ends, you must be prepared to deal with any issues that arise about the quality of the workmanship. In all these situations, you need a construction attorney to advise and represent you.

The Foundation: Understanding Construction Law

Construction law encompasses many areas of law. Some of the legal fields construction lawyers understand and handle include:

  • Contract law
  • Property law
  • Commercial law
  • Insurance law
  • Environmental law
  • Product liability and injury law
  • Employment and workplace safety law

Most of the legal issues surrounding construction projects involve contract law. Contracts encompass the legal rights and duties that arise from a mutual agreement between two or more parties. Some common contract issues in construction include:

  • Project schedules and penalties for missing deadlines
  • Change orders during construction
  • Construction defects

Construction projects also involve property law. This legal field governs the rights and responsibilities involved in owning and leasing real property. This field of law includes:

  • Zoning compliance
  • Permitting
  • Environmental surveys
  • Neighbor disputes over water use, noise, air pollution, and nuisances

Another area of law involves employment and worker safety. The construction industry has more worker deaths than any other industry. Someone must ensure the job site complies with state and federal workplace regulations. Safe job sites protect workers and avoid construction delays from stop orders from safety inspectors.

Signs You Need a Construction Attorney

A construction lawyer can help at all stages of a project. Some reasons you might need an attorney include:

  • You are negotiating and drafting a construction contract
  • You need a zoning variance
  • A lender or insurer imposes special terms on your project
  • Construction defects are discovered
  • A dispute has arisen with the government, other parties, or workers

In many situations, you will benefit by calling a lawyer, even if you are unsure whether you need one. An hour or two of legal counseling might prevent a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

How a Construction Attorney Acts as Your Blueprint

As you approach your project, remember the old saying about an ounce of prevention. Hiring a lawyer before a dispute arises will often help you keep construction on track.

In many cases, the earlier the lawyer joins the project, the more disputes can be avoided. The lawyer can plan a legal strategy to deal with many issues that arise early in the project, such as:

  • Zoning
  • Lending
  • Insurance
  • Environmental reports
  • Permitting

Without a legal plan, your project might get mired in litigation before shovels even hit the dirt.

Cost-Effective Solutions

You have many options for hiring construction lawyers. If you have an in-house legal department, you can also hire a construction lawyer, as your team needs someone with additional knowledge or experience. 

Another strategy is to meet with a lawyer early in your construction to map out potential legal issues. As you reach each point, you can bring the lawyer into the project.

Pitfalls of DIY

You would never advise a property owner to pour a foundation. By the same token, lawyers would never advise you to handle your legal disputes. Lawyers provide legal knowledge and experience to make sure your issue gets handled correctly. 

Equally importantly, a lawyer takes the burden of your legal issue off your hands so you can focus on your area of expertise.

Finding the Right Construction Attorney

The right construction lawyer will have experience with construction projects. Construction lawyers know the law as well as the construction industry and its customs. The right construction attorney can spot issues before they arise because of their industry experience.

Reducing Delays and Issues

A legal blueprint can reduce the risk of delays and disputes. Contact Alves Radcliffe to discuss your construction project and how we can help you develop a legal strategy.

How a Construction Attorney Can Hammer Out Your Contract Concerns - Alves Radcliffe

How a Construction Attorney Can Hammer Out Your Contract Concerns

Commercial and residential buildings are meant to last for decades. Their construction often requires months or even years of planning and execution. These projects involve several parties with diverse roles, including property owners, lenders, contractors, and subcontractors.

Construction contracts help manage these projects. They identify each party’s rights and responsibilities. They also allocate the risks associated with the construction project. There is no right or wrong way to handle these business decisions. However, a construction attorney can help you ensure the contract reflects the agreed-upon terms.

The Nuts and Bolts of Construction Contracts

Construction contracts cover many of the parties involved in a project, including:

  • Owners
  • Developers
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Lenders
  • Tenants
  • Construction managers
  • General contractors
  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers
  • Insurers

You will not find a one-size-fits-all construction contract that covers every situation. But all construction contracts should include certain terms, such as:

  • Project schedule
  • Payments
  • Scope of work
  • Permitting
  • Documentation requirements
  • Warranties
  • Dispute resolution
  • Change orders
  • Termination
  • Penalties

Other contract issues can arise when you litigate construction contracts. First, courts construe contract language using only the contents of the agreement. The “four corners” principle means a court usually cannot use outside evidence, such as emails or notes, to interpret the terms of the contract.

Second, courts typically avoid adding unwritten terms into a written agreement, even when those terms are customary in the industry. Judges assume you wrote your contract knowing what you did or did not want to include.

Meet Your Hero: The Construction Attorney

All lawyers learn contract principles in law school. However, a construction attorney has experience with other construction projects. As a result, the attorney will know:

  • The typical terms to include in a construction contract
  • How to craft creative solutions based on experience with other projects
  • The issues most likely to generate disputes and ways to address them

A construction lawyer can assist you in many ways. You can hire an attorney to negotiate and draft the contract. You can negotiate the contract and hire a lawyer to memorialize it in an enforceable written agreement. 

If you have an in-house legal department, you can hire a lawyer to advise your general counsel on construction law matters.

Hammering Out Contractual Concerns

Contractual concerns usually come in two forms. First, the contractual language may be unclear. The lawyer can work with the other parties to make the terms clear and complete.

The second contractual concern happens when you want to include or exclude a term, but the other parties refuse. The lawyer can hammer out this concern by negotiating with the other parties to try to get something in the agreement that protects you. The lawyer might even spot an issue that you missed.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis

Trying to deal with a contract without a lawyer has many risks, including the following:

  • Committing to an agreement you do not understand
  • Time and expense of litigating foreseeable disputes
  • A judgment against your business if you lose a lawsuit

The most important cost is that your attention will get pulled away from your business to focus on negotiating, drafting, and litigating construction contracts.

The benefit is the peace of mind of knowing that your concerns about your construction contracts have been resolved. As a result, you can focus on your business rather than your contracts.

Choosing the Right Construction Attorney

Experience is the most important factor in choosing any kind of lawyer. When picking a construction lawyer, look for someone who has previously drafted and litigated construction contracts. They should understand various types of construction contracts and how to draft them.

The lawyer will use this experience to identify potential problems and resolve them early. They can also free up your time by taking over the burden of negotiating and drafting a fair and clear construction contract.

The Contract Help You Need

Even a simple construction project requires solid construction contracts to manage everyone’s legal obligations. Contact Alves Radcliffe to discuss your project and how we can help you resolve your contract concerns.

Maximizing Efficiency How to Expedite Your Construction Permits - Alves Radcliffe

Maximizing Efficiency: How to Expedite Your Construction Permits

Obtaining a construction permit can be challenging, especially because it often takes time. Expediting your construction permit can help you complete your project much faster. 

A construction attorney can provide much-needed guidance throughout the permit process. 

Permit/Process Efficiency

In the construction world, permits are a necessity. Generally, permits are required for any commercial or residential project involving construction, repairs, alterations, or any considerable changes to a structure. 

The permit process can be frustrating and stressful. However, putting your focus on the permit process and expediting the process as much as possible can help you considerably. Most importantly, obtaining a permit quickly means your construction project can get going faster.

To acquire a permit more efficiently, it’s helpful to fully familiarize yourself with your project and have a solid plan. Proper planning is one of the key steps to minimizing any setbacks you may encounter during the permitting process. Also, get to know your jurisdiction and local procedures, laws, and codes. 

Additionally, don’t hesitate to get assistance from a knowledgeable source if needed. A construction attorney can help you get your permits efficiently, saving you plenty of time. 

Preparation & Challenges

Preparing your application and having the required documents and information ready allows you to complete the necessary steps much faster. 

Depending on the type of project you’re getting a permit for, you may need to provide certain documents, including:

  • Blueprints
  • Site plans
  • Floor plans
  • Foundation plans
  • Roof plan
  • Land surveys

Additionally, you must provide information about your project, including a thorough description of the project scope of work. 

Failure to obtain and provide the documentation needed for your permit can add to your construction timeline and costs. For this reason, it’s important to understand what you need for a comprehensive permit application and provide everything the first time around to avoid denials and further issues. 

Choosing the Right Permit Type & Qualified Contractor

There are numerous types of permits you can apply for, depending on the type of project. Some common kinds of permits include, but are not limited to:

  • General building permits: Required for alterations, repairs, and new construction projects 
  • Electrical permits: Necessary for electrical jobs, including installing new wiring or additions to existing electrical installations
  • Plumbing permits: Required for cutting into or replacing pipes, specifically those in walls or underground 
  • Reroofing permits: Necessary for roof replacement work, including installing, removing, or repairing roof sheathing

Contractors are often responsible for overseeing these projects but also obtaining necessary permits. A contractor can apply for permits, schedule required inspections, and ensure projects are completed according to plan. Contractors also hold legal responsibility for projects; therefore, hiring a qualified contractor is important.

Utilizing Online Services & Fast-Track Permitting

Online services and other resources can help you expedite the permitting process, allowing you to get to work much quicker.

Depending on the type of permit needed, certain cities and counties allow licensed contractors to apply for and obtain permits online. Over-the-counter permits are easier to get quickly online for smaller projects. Larger projects and commercial construction jobs usually go through formal channels and could take longer to get.

Additionally, some cities allow for expedited plan review requests for larger projects. While requesting an expedite typically involves additional fees, it could help you keep up with your project timeline and get the job done faster.

Legal and Liability Considerations

To get a building permit, you must take special note of laws, codes, and regulations. Responsibility for permits falls on the party requesting the permit, which is usually the contractor. This is one of the reasons contractors carry liability insurance, as they are liable for projects. 

The legal aspect of construction permits can be one of the more challenging parts. For guidance and support, consult with a local construction attorney. 

Get Help with Your Construction Permits

The construction attorneys at Alves Radcliffe have extensive experience helping clients with permitting for their construction jobs. We invite clients throughout the Bay Area and greater Sacramento to contact us to schedule a meeting.

Emergency Repairs and Construction Permits What You Need to Know - Alves Radcliffe

Emergency Repairs and Construction Permits: What You Need to Know

No matter how careful you are, some emergency repairs are unavoidable. When you need to complete a repair quickly, you need to expedite the process, which includes getting a permit.

Getting a construction permit for an emergency repair can be challenging, but a construction attorney can assist. 

Emergency Repairs Defined

If you look up the definition of emergency, you’ll see it is often defined as an unforeseen, serious, often dangerous situation that calls for immediate action. Therefore, an emergency repair must be done right away.

Usually, if an emergency repair is not done promptly, it can result in substantial damage to the surrounding area or entire structure. Common emergency repairs involve:

  • Plumbing, like burst pipes
  • Electrical, like burnt outlets
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • Structural issues
  • Weather-related problems
  • Fires

Taking care of an emergency repair can resolve the issue and help avoid further complications and the need for additional repairs. 

Permit Application Process — What To Know

Repairs usually require permits. Permits are necessary to ensure repairs meet legal standards. It’s important to follow the proper application process, as it depends on your city’s requirements. 

You’ll start by submitting an application to your local building department. This usually requires detailing the work that must be done and including certain plans. 

The approval process timeline varies. Sometimes, for emergency situations, you may have the opportunity to get a faster response. Once you obtain approval, you can begin work. You cannot begin making repairs until you’ve received your permit. 

Once the job is complete, you’ll need to schedule an inspection. A building official will inspect to ensure the job was completed according to plan. If so, you’ll receive final approval. 

When applying for a building permit, it’s important to try to increase your chances of approval. First and foremost, familiarize yourself with your project. Knowing the exact details of your repairs, including what needs to be done and an approximate timeline, can greatly help. 

Get to know your local laws and regulations. Every city and building agency has its own rules. Ensuring you’re staying within the parameters of these regulations can help you get approval faster. 

Never be afraid to ask for help. The application process can be complicated and frustrating, especially when you’re trying to complete emergency repairs. Seeking assistance from a construction attorney when you need it can not only help avoid headaches, but it can also help move the process along faster. 

Adhering to Timelines and Urgency

Emergency repairs need prompt attention. For this reason, many city building authorities have emergency permit applications. While other types of permits may take weeks to approve, an emergency permit may get your approval much quicker, often in a matter of days.

Because many repairs require permits, it can affect the timeline of the repair. You can’t work until you receive approval, which can be frustrating. A construction attorney can help you get a quicker approval for emergencies.

Forecasting Costs and Responsibility

Applying for a permit can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the local building department’s fees. This can add to the overall cost of the repair, which can vary greatly depending on the issue and the severity of the emergency. 

Responsibility for repairs and permits depends on the circumstances. Contractors are typically responsible for obtaining permits and overseeing repairs. The person who pulls the permit is responsible for everything permit-related, including scheduling inspections and ensuring they receive final approval to avoid any future issues. 

Legal Considerations and Resources

The individual who applies for a permit is legally responsible for the project. This means that, from the city or county’s perspective, they are liable for any damages. This is partly why hiring a licensed, insured contractor is best.

Legal Help with Emergency Permits

A construction attorney can provide qualified legal guidance and advice. The construction attorneys at Alves Radcliffe proudly serve clients throughout the Bay Area and greater Sacramento. Contact us today to schedule a meeting. 

What Are the Different Types of Change Orders in Construction - Alves Radcliffe

What Are the Different Types of Change Orders in Construction?

The unexpected can make life exciting, but it often makes building and construction projects more difficult.

Changing construction plans midway through can increase the time and resources needed to complete the project. A well-drafted contract created with help from an experienced construction attorney can help guard against unnecessary changes to your project.

That said, every project contract must be drafted with change in mind.

Some circumstances will make even the most carefully considered contracts unworkable. Change orders are the legal tools whereby your contract can be amended to reflect present realities and the contract’s overall purpose can be achieved.

Oral vs. Written Change Orders

The contractor or the customer can request a change order to the construction contract. Like any other contract, the mere request for a change order doesn’t automatically create new obligations. Generally speaking, only when a change order is proposed — and the parties accept it — does the order become binding.

Written Change Orders

Construction attorneys generally prefer that change orders be made in writing between the customer and the contractor or someone with authority to modify the original contract. This helps avoid confusion over any changes and how they impact the original contract.

For example, suppose that a homeowner is renovating their kitchen and wants the contractor to use a different material for the countertops than what was originally discussed. A written change order can not only specify the new material the homeowner wants but also:

  • Any price difference in materials
  • Additional work needed to accommodate the change order
  • Delays in completing the change order and original contract
  • Any other material term or condition

Bus. And Prof. Code Section 7159 allows for change orders to written construction contracts when there’s a new exchange of consideration. In this context, “consideration” means nothing more than one person giving up something or taking on a new obligation because of the contract.

Therefore, a written change order can become effective and enforceable if the contractor signs the agreement or purchases materials and supplies to complete the work. The homeowner may manifest consent to a change order by signing a copy of the order and making a deposit toward the anticipated costs.

Oral Change Orders

An oral change or agreement is much more difficult to prove, which helps explain why construction attorneys don’t recommend them. Without written documentation of the change order, its basic existence and specific material terms become challenging to prove.

Nonetheless, an oral change order may be enforceable if one party fully executes their side of the agreement.

For instance, a contractor who installs the new countertop material may then take the homeowner to court and attempt to prove that the change was made in accordance with an oral change order agreement. In the same way, a homeowner who deposits the agreed-upon amount could then demand that the contractor install the new countertop.

Even so, it’s the obligation of the person who fulfilled the terms of the agreement to show the court that the agreement existed in the first place.

How Can a California Construction Attorney Help Me?

A skilled construction attorney from Alves Radcliffe can assist you with all aspects of change orders.

Whether you need to draw up an order or you’re embroiled in a dispute over a breach, Alves Radcliffe is available to analyze your situation and help you get where you want to go. Contact us today at 916-333-3375 to schedule a consultation.

The Importance of Permitting on a Construction Project - Alves Radcliffe

The Importance of Permitting on a Construction Project

Anytime you start a building project in California, it’s important to make sure you have all the right tools for the job. These include the building permits needed to complete the project. Failing to obtain the necessary permits before commencing work can result in costly penalties and fees and may impact your ability to work in the future.

Obtaining a building permit may seem like a hassle, especially if the project is small and can be completed quickly. However, neglecting to obtain the proper permits isn’t something the State of California or its many counties take lightly.

Even unintentional failures can be met with harsh penalties. With that in mind, it’s wise to consult a California construction attorney if you have any doubts about whether you need a permit for your next undertaking.

When Permits Are Required in California

One of the duties of an experienced construction attorney is to help contractors and homeowners understand when permits are needed for various construction projects. Permit laws and the penalties for violating them are a confusing patchwork of state and local laws and regulations that homeowners and contractors may not fully appreciate.

The California Building Standards Code requires that a permit be obtained for any building or structure before it’s “erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted, or demolished.”

This requirement encompasses nearly any new construction or renovation project and applies to each structure or building on which work is performed.

Licensed contractors in California must obtain the requisite permits from the city, county, or town where the work will be completed. This process can be long and frustrating, as multiple departments may need to review an application for a building permit.

For example, if you apply for a building permit in Colusa County, your application will be reviewed by:

  • The Planning Department
  • The Building Department
  • The Environmental Health Department
  • The local fire department
  • The Public Works Department

You must also pay any attendant fees before the permit will be approved.

Because of the number of departments involved in obtaining a building permit, contractors are advised to allow a minimum of four to six weeks for the process to conclude. In some cases, a construction attorney may be able to help get a permit approved if an application becomes stalled.

Penalties for Not Obtaining Permits

Considering all the work involved in obtaining building permits, it’s understandable why some contractors might neglect to do so.

However, this decision can have serious financial and other consequences. Each failure to obtain a necessary permit can carry a $5,000 penalty in addition to any permit fees and other costs imposed by the local authorities.

Even worse, permit violations could lead to the suspension or revocation of a contractor’s license. This disciplinary action would affect a contractor’s ability to work and require additional action from an attorney with experience in business and commercial law to reinstate the license.

When to Involve a California Construction Attorney

Turning to an experienced construction attorney from Alves Radcliffe early in your building or renovation project can provide you with much-needed counseling and support. Such advocacy can keep you from running into needless and costly permit errors as your project proceeds. Whether you’re still in the early planning stages or you’ve encountered a permitting issue that’s preventing you from moving forward with your project, our firm can help. Contact us today to discuss your concerns and allow us to help you with your legal needs.