1. An Act of Bad Faith

    Bad Faith Contracting Dominick Vivona has a home in a wooded area near Greenwich, Connecticut. In June of 2017, he set out to build a treehouse for his kids. Vivona sketched a design and found an experienced carpenter, Walter Reyes, to do the work for $6,000. Reyes drew plans for the job, pulled the permit and bought most of the materials. Reyes wanted to be paid 35% on the second day of work, 30% on the fourth day of work and 35% when the job was finished. None of this was in writing. If you read my blog post last month, you know where this case is headed. Last month I described how a Connecticut contractor couldn’t collect the final $8,000 on a roofing job because the written contract was lame. In fact, the agreement was so bad that the contractor had his mechanics lien rights wiped out. Continue reading →
  2. Liens vs. Contracts in Connecticut

    Liens vs. Contracts in Connecticut Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia require a written contract for residential work. See my blog post Contracting on a Handshake for the list of states. But the obvious question is, “What happens if my job in one of those states doesn’t have a legal contract? Can I still collect?” Continue reading →
  3. Who Pays for Mistakes

    Who Pays for Mistakes You’ve been here before. Every contractor has. Something doesn’t pass inspection. It’s clearly wrong. Work has to be torn out and re-done. The question is, “Who pays?” Was it the fault of the prime? Or the sub? Or the architect or engineer? Continue reading →
  4. Contractor Without a Contract

    Contractor Without a Contract Nearly all public works projects are done on terms set by the public agency. The contractor has little or no say in the matter. It’s only on smaller residential and commercial jobs that contractors get to shape the agreement – offer terms likely to save the day if the job goes bad. It should be obvious: Contractors with an opportunity to write their own agreements should jump at the chance. Yet, some don’t. Here’s an example: Continue reading →
  5. Deletion Change Orders

    Nothing I’ve seen causes contractors more legal headaches than change orders. If you’ve dipped into the pages of this blog over the last ten years, you’ve seen how changes in the work can spoil nearly any job. A New York case decided last month illustrates the point. Here’s what happened. Lanmark Group, a New York prime contractor, won the bid to do nearly $15 million in improvements to the Vince Lombardi School in Brooklyn. Lanmark awarded the masonry part of the job to Graciano Corp. at a subcontract price of $5,320,000. It didn’t go well. Continue reading →
  6. How Long Can A Contractor Be Held Responsible For Construction Defect?

    fire-damage-construction-defect-lawLet Sleeping Dogs Lie Fire damaged Terry Bridgwood’s home in Newburyport, MA a few years ago. Cost of repair was over $40,000. Apparently, the fire started in a ceiling light fixture. That’s strange. Light fixtures shouldn’t start fires. Her attorney agreed and did some checking. Continue reading →
  7. What Makes a Good Home Appraisal?

    Appraisals Appraisals come in at least three flavors. The first is based on comps. What would a comparable property sell for in the same area? The second is based on expected revenue. That’s the most common way to appraise commercial properties. The third type of appraisal is the replacement cost. In some ways, cost-based appraisals are similar to construction cost estimates.  Continue reading →
  8. Recovery from Hurricane Florence

    Recovery from Hurricane Florence A week after Hurricane Florence passed through North and South Carolina, rivers are still above flood stage, schools are still closed and owners are still assessing the damage. The number of homes flooded will be in the low six figures – not as many as from Hurricane Harvey (over 200,000) or Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (close to 1 million). But Hurricane Florence is still a catastrophe for the communities affected. Unlike Harvey in Houston or Katrina in New Orleans, damage from Florence is mostly rising water – not covered by home insurance. About two-thirds of homes affected by Hurricane Florence have no coverage. That’s going to complicate and delay recovery from Hurricane Florence. Continue reading →
  9. How Does a Contractor Find More Work?

    How Does A Contractor Find More Work? A few years ago, I sat down with an architect friend, Bill Mitchell, to answer a simple question, “How does a contractor find more work?” Bill knows construction. He’s been designing and building residential, commercial and industrial projects for over 30 years. Here’s our list of what it takes to sell construction services in a competitive market: Continue reading →
  10. Guaranteed Maximum Price Contracting - GMP Contract

    If you’ve never met a GMP contract, let me provide an introduction. GMP is a handy tool put to good use by many contractors. Back in July of 2010, I explained why home improvement contractors in six states (CA, IL, MA, NV, PA and TN) use GMP contracts. In those states, time & material contracts aren't legal for most residential work and can't be enforced. That makes GMP contracts an obvious choice. What I didn’t explain back in 2010 was how to write a GMP contract. So here goes. Continue reading →

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