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  1. Disclaimer

    Disclaimer: Nothing in this blog should be interpreted as a substitute for professional advice from an attorney practicing in your community. Only local counsel can appreciate the business and legal environment under which a construction contract is drafted, negotiated and executed. Gary W. Moselle represents Craftsman Book Company, publisher of Construction Contract Writer.
  2. Bailing Out of a Bad Contract

    Most of what you read here is about drafting good contracts, not about bailing out of bad deals. But bad deals happen – such as to a Florida contractor I advised last week. “How do I get out of this contract?” I’ll count the ways. First, understand the measure of damages, what you stand to lose by simply walking off...
  3. Subs or Gig Workers?

    Every contractor understands the advantage of using independent contractors rather than hiring employees: No FICA or FUTA, no workers’ comp, no sick leave, no overtime. Using gig workers cuts at least 30% off labor costs. Great choice! But you probably detect problems lurking here. I’ll explain by offering a little history. Statutory Employees A hundred years ago, employees injured on...
  4. Checklist for Construction Contracts

    Nearly all states require specific notices and disclosures in construction contracts. In some states and for some types of work, the list of required notices goes on and on. Worst case: California requires 35 separate notices in home improvement contracts. But anything your state requires is just the minimum. Your contracts also have to cover the price, the site, the...
  5. Rock Clause

    “I need a rock clause.” I got that request earlier this month. I think you need a rock clause too. Here’s why. The name ”rock clause” comes from a common construction problem – rock where no one expected rock. If you do much excavation, you understand the problem: a ledge of rock or hard pan, or boulders, or a high...
  6. Collect for Mandated Changes

    I had an interesting question last week from Bryan, a Tennessee contractor. Bryan wondered why any contract needs to say that changes require mutual agreement. Isn’t that the law? Better to keep contracts short and sweet. Anything in a contract about changes requiring mutual agreement is surplus. Right? Bryan acknowledged that some owners can’t resist changing the scope of work...
  7. New Law for NY Roofers

    Every contractor doing roofing or siding work in New York got a new challenge last month. NY General Business Law, § 770(8) and § 771-b set new standards for roofing and related work. To earn the right to collect on the job, your contract has to include new disclosures. The new law is fairly detailed. So stay with me. Who’s...
  8. Surviving Past the Age of COVID

    News Headline: US housing starts drop to the lowest level since 2015. Government restrictions, lockdowns and a slowing economy have added a layer of problems for residential contractors. When work slows, income dries up. Expenses like debt service and overhead continue as if nothing had changed. Too much of that can stress any construction company. Here’s a checklist to help...
  9. Contractor Liability for COVID-19 Claims

    Contractor Liability for COVID-19 Claims Who pays when someone on a construction site gets sick or dies from COVID-19? Long after the pandemic has passed from headline news, lawyers for plaintiffs and defendants will be battling over this issue. But I see a more immediate question: What can contractors do right now to avoid COVID claims? Rule of thumb: Occupational...
  10. When is Time of the Essence?

    Question: “My client wants a completion deadline written into our construction contract. What should I do?” My advice: Avoid committing to a firm completion date. Instead, lay out a proposed schedule – beginning date, milestones, completion estimate. Explain the contingencies you can’t control: weather, permits, inspections, changes, labor and material shortages, conflicts between trades, etc. Be blunt: Anything can be...

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