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. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. 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...
  5. 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...
  6. 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...
  7. 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...
  8. Construction Contracting After COVID-19

    Construction Contracting After COVID-19 I’m a lawyer, not a doctor. Neither am I an economist. So, I’m not going to offer medical advice. And I’m not going to make any prediction about when the economy will recover. But this is clear to me. Post COVID-19, changes are coming. No industry is exempt, certainly not construction contracting. I’ve witnessed four complete business cycles during my productive lifetime. These were the good years for contractors: 1975 to 1978 -- recovery after the Viet Nam war 1982 to 1984 – recovery from the recession of 1982 1990 to 2005 – the longest expansion in US history 2010 to 2020 – recovery from the Great Recession And there were bad years: 1974, 1981, 1989, 2009. Each of these coincided with an economic recession. Employment in the construction industry dropped by 10% or more. Typically, residential construction was the hardest hit. What Happens Next? Continue reading →
  9. Questions for HomeAdvisor

    Questions for HomeAdvisor If you do any residential work, you know the name. HomeAdvisor is a Web directory of local contractors. The idea behind HomeAdvisor is simple. Read what your neighbors say about contractors they know. Then get a quote from the contractor of your choice. HomeAdvisor traces its roots back to Angie’s List. In 1995, Angie Hicks went door-to-door in Columbus, Ohio, signing up anyone who wanted to see her list of recommended contractors. In the first year, Angie got over 1,000 owners to pay a fee and sign-up. A business was born. Soon Angie met a venture capitalist with access to millions in investor funds. You may not have heard of ServiceMagic, or Instapro, or MyHammer or HomeStars, or MyBuilder, or Handy. All offer an on-line list of contractors. And all are now part of HomeAdvisor -- listed on the NASDAQ as ANGI Homeservices, Inc. Continue reading →
  10. Use T-I-L to Close More Deals

    Use T-I-L to Close More Deals Most contractors want to get paid when the job is done. That’s human nature. But it may not be the best way to do business. Ask any car dealer what would happen if every buyer had to pay cash on delivery. Sales would tank. Credit can create sales opportunities you didn’t know existed. Some of the most successful builders offer a credit term -- monthly payments after the job is done. If you’re in a position to defer part of the income from completed jobs, consider making credit part of your sales pitch. It's perfectly legal to take an IOU for part of the job or stretch out payments after work is done. But a construction contract with a deferred payment term has to include disclosures required by the Federal Truth in Lending Act (T-I-L). Banks, car dealers and finance companies are good at writing agreements with all the required disclosures. It’s at the heart of their business. But any construction contractor can do the same thing. And Construction Contract Writer makes it easy. Continue reading →

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