Not Quite Legal in All 50 States

Go browsing on the Web for construction contracts and you’ll see braggadocio about some boilerplate contract being “legal in all 50 states.”
 
Claims like this show up on Web sites run by savvy people with good credentials but who should know better. Every state has the right to set unique requirements for construction contracts. And nearly all have. It’s simply foolish to claim any construction contract is “legal in all 50 states.”
 
You can take this to the bank: There’s no home improvement contract that’s legal in all 50 states. I’ll go one step further: There’s no contract for residential construction that’s legal in all 50 states. You won’t even find a contract for commercial construction that’s legal in most states. That’s not the way it works.
 
Construction contract law varies from state to state the same way income tax law varies from state to state. Imagine the reaction if you tried to file a New York or Texas income tax return with the Montana Department of Revenue. You’d probably be breaking the law in two states.
 
It’s the same with construction contracts. Nearly all states require specific disclosures, set unique limits or void certain types of clauses in construction contracts. No two states are alike. And most states impose heavy penalties for doing construction work under a contract that doesn’t meet state code. Fines up to $1,000 are common, as is the threat of jail time.
 
Even if you aren’t concerned about fines and jail time, consider the impact if you get into a dispute before collecting final payment. The attorney for your client won’t be impressed with your “legal in all 50 states” contract. More likely, you’ll discover that the contract is either partially or totally unenforceable under state law. Game over! You lose. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. You’re not going to collect another dime on that contract. If opposing counsel is charitable, you’ll escape discipline from the state board. Persist and you’ll get an invitation to do the perp walk at a state hearing.
 
When you see the claim, “legal in all 50 states,” I recommend thinking “probably not legal in any state.” The latter is far more likely than the former.
 
So how do you judge if some boilerplate contract is legal? If you’re paying the $10 to $150 that most vendors change for a download, you’ve got the right to know: Is it really legal in my state?
 
I can recommend a Web site. It’s free. Construction-Contract.net has a good selection of state-specific home improvement, residential and commercial construction contracts. Even better, the site lists laws in each state that set minimums for construction contracts. Before buying any boilerplate contract or contract package, compare what the law requires in your state with what the vendor is offering. If the vendor’s contract comes up short, save your money.

What Is Construction Law?

Construction law in layman’s term mainly deals with the rules and regulation that will help to solve the disputes between the seller and buyer of a house in a legal way. From the initial step of bidding a specific building project, till the signing of contracts, many legal procedures are involved. If either of the parties does not participate in this process in a legal way, then legal action can be taken by the court, when a petition is filed. One of the most important of these laws is the government contract law. Some construction projects come under the control of the federal government, while the others come under the control of state government. These projects must abide by the contract law.

This law will also protect the laborers in the construction industry. Sudden accidents can lead to serious injuries in the workers. Hence the compensation scheme must be proposed for the victims. The workers’ compensation law also falls under the construction law. In order to construct the building according he government norms and also to satisfy the needs of the buyer, the contractor must exhibit good workmanship. If a specific decision taken by the contractor modifies a large proportion of the building design, it must be legally communicated to the buyer and the buyer must approve such modifications. Similarly, according to the construction law, the owner must also have a mutual agreement and cooperation with the building contractor. The buyer must not indulge in any activity that might hinder the progress of the construction work. If such situations arise, the contractor can file a complaint against the buyer. There have been many cases, where either the contractor or the buyer has lodged complaints against the other.

ABA forum is considered to be one of the largest associations dealing with the construction industry and comprises of close to 6000 lawyers. There are special council to take control of the different features of the building. For instance there is a seismic safety council that takes care of the risk of building damage due to earthquake. There are special bodies to take care of the safety aspects like the installation of the fire alarms or extinguishers and to check the presence of emergency exits. HUD provides loans for building renovation. When the contractors gain this amount and cheat, case can be filed against the for fraud. There are specific codes like national plumbing code or standard electric code, which must be followed during the building construction.

Resolving Construction Disputes Effectively

When customers are disappointed with the work that a contractor has carried out, construction disputes can often develop. The customer may feel the building firm has not undertaken all the work agreed upon, or they may be dissatisfied with the quality of the workmanship. If the dispute cannot be resolved outside the legal system, litigation may be necessary, and customers will need the services of a barrister.

Written Quotes and Payment Schedules – Many construction disputes can be averted if customers take some straightforward precautions at the outset. Before engaging a builder, customers should look for, and verify, references. It is vitally important to engage a reputable building firm. Customers should also look for a detailed, written and signed quote. This should state clearly what work is to be carried out, and list the payment schedule.

Remain unemotional – If construction disputes do arise, the first step to resolve them should be to discuss the difficulties with the building firm. This should be done in a non-accusatory and unemotional manner. The aim is to come to a satisfactory decision, and this will be harder to achieve if there is a lot of acrimony between the parties.

Trying to get a speedy resolution in construction disputes may be particularly important when building work comes to a halt because of the dispute. This will be a prime concern if the work is being carried out on the family home. You should bear in mind that your building firm will be just as anxious as you are to reach a satisfactory agreement.

Professional Intermediaries – If you feel uncomfortable holding direct discussions with your builder, you could consider hiring a chartered surveyor or an architect to deal with the building firm on your behalf. If you have had plans prepared for the work being done, then the person who created the plans could be your best option.

Mediation – The next step in resolving construction disputes is to try mediation. Subject to both parties agreeing to it, the difficulties can be raised before an independent expert. That expert will try to get a legally non-binding agreement between the disputing parties.

Adjudication – Appointing an adjudicator to decide on the issues involved is a more formal way of dealing with construction disputes. The process is comparable to mediation or conciliation in that the facts are shown to a third-party expert. Adjudication differs in that the adjudicator’s decision will be binding, but it can be challenged in a court action.

Arbitration – Arbitration is another alternative in resolving disputes. If mediation is not considered, then this method is of construction dispute resolution is next in line for being the most used. The principal difference between arbitration and adjudication is that both parties agree beforehand that the arbitrator’s decision will be binding.

Civil Legal Action – If no resolution can be found in construction disputes after following one or more of the steps outlined above, the only option may be to take legal action. Before committing to legal action, you should discuss the matter with a legal professional to determine the probability of success. There are many factors to bear in mind, and a qualified barrister is the one who is best placed to advise clients on whether they should proceed or not.

Which type of legal council, solicitor or barrister? – Some people choose to seek the advice of a solicitor at this stage, however very often a solicitor will take on the case and then they themselves will seek the advice of a specialist barrister. This causes delays to you and you will receive both costs.

Many barristers will normally detail their particular areas of specialisation on their websites. As a consequence, individuals who are involved at this stage of a construction dispute are finding it easy to discover, consult and perhaps engage a barrister that has the appropriate expertise, and so save themselves both time and money.