Why You Need a Construction Contract, and an Attorney

If you are a contractor, either residential or commercial, it may not have taken you long to decide that a contract with your customers, subcontractors, and suppliers is in your best interest. And even if you don’t want a contract, many customers give preference to contractors who will work within the structure of a contract so that they have peace of mind.

You may also know that a poorly constructed contract can cause just as many legal problems as no contract at all. While there are many do-it-yourself forms available for contractors to construct a contract, the best way to ensure a specifically tailored, quality contract is to work with an attorney who specializes in construction law. Though the cost of an attorney’s services may seem prohibitive, the upfront cost of an attorney’s assistance can save you from larger financial headaches down the road.

Often times an attorney can help you with a contract that you can use as a general template for future jobs-reducing the overall cost.

A construction law attorney can help you in various ways with a construction contract:

  • Formulation: A construction law attorney can help you construct a solid contract that protects your business interest and gives your customer peace of mind. As mentioned above, an attorney can often help you draft a contract that you can eventually tailor to fit other contracting jobs
  • Review: If you’ve already drafted a contract, an attorney can help you review your contract to see if there are any legal loopholes that you’ve overlooked or if you’re missing any important contractual components that could cause problems for you later on.
  • Negotiation: An attorney can help you negotiate contracts with your customers, subcontractors, and materials suppliers. Your attorney will help you secure the fundamentals of your contract while knowing how much to give in the negotiation process on less important facets of the construction process.

Once you have entered into a contract, a construction law attorney can continue to provide you support. Your attorney will be able to help you in the administration, enforcement, documentation, and possible defense of your contract:

  • Administration: In order for you to stay within the confines of your contract, you will need to be able to properly administrate from the contract. An attorney can make sure that you understand all the “fine print” of the legal contract that you entered into so that you can properly execute the agreement.
  • Enforcement: An attorney can assist you in properly enforcing your contract, particularly if you are a contractor who has entered into agreements with subcontractors and large materials purveyors. An attorney can consult you on how to enforce your contractual agreements with these parties so that you can maintain your contractual agreements with your customer.
  • Documentation: To ensure that you are following contractual guidelines and to protect you in the case of legal action, your attorney can help you make sure that you properly document all of your progress, administration, and enforcement attempts.
  • Contract Defense: When a customer legally retaliates against you, your attorney will be able to help you defend your contractual obligations or lack thereof.

Contracts help set forth clear guidelines in a wide variety of circumstances, but they can be especially helpful in the contracting business- both for the contractor and the customer. An attorney who specializes in construction law can help ensure that this contract works to protect both of these parties.

Construction Document Management Services and Its Purpose

Typical Construction documents contain all critical information such as bidding papers, building plans, specifications and related documents required for the construction of a building or structure. These documents are used for various purposes. They help explain the needs of the owner into a buildable format that can be unanimously understood within the architectural and structural community. They also help the owner to put the project out for bid and to get necessary approvals from regional authorities. At last, they impart complete instructions to the contractor as to how the project should be executed.

Generation of a set of construction documents begins with the developer. The architect drafts different sets of building plans, which the builder revise and approve at each step before the construction is carried further. The conclusive set of plans is commonly referred to as 100% construction documents (CDs).

This final set is divided into three components. The major component is the set of building plans or drawings. These may contain everything from floor plans to architectural drawings. Plans for any project are generally divided into many different sections. The plans will begin with architectural drawings followed by mechanical, structural and electrical drawings.

Second component is the specifications manual book. It includes information regarding materials and methods to be used for construction. People who are new to the construction field often ignore the manual and concentrate only on the drawings. This is not the best practice since the manual often contains details not found on the building plans.

The third component is made up of the revisions made by the architect, structural engineer or the owner during the design phase. Official changes are published in the form of supplemental instructions, directives or bulletins. These written changes are included as an official part of the construction documents.

Once a completed set of construction documents is ready it is sent to prospective contractors for bidding and finding cost estimation of the project. Since they form a part of the legal construction contract, it is very important to provide accurate and comprehensive details. Each document should serve to a specific purpose so that the retrieval of information is simplified and the possibility of contention is considerably reduced. Each team member should benefit from this standardized approach of placing information within the documents.

Arizona’s Road Construction Projects Create Dangerous Driving Conditions

Road construction zones often present shifting traffic patterns and uneven surfaces for car and truck drivers to navigate. Often, there is little notice of these dangerous conditions. On an average day, 11 automobile accidents take place in Arizona road construction zones. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT), these accidents have accounted for over 80 deaths and more than 11,000 injuries in the past five years. Drivers and their passengers account for the vast majority of the people hurt in these accidents.

Car Accidents in Construction Zones

Construction zones are a common sight on Arizona roads these days. Many major construction projects, such as those currently underway on Interstates 10 and 17, Highway 93 and State Routes 92 and 179, are expected to extend to late 2009 or 2010. These projects cause general upheaval that can result in hazardous road conditions, including:

• Poorly marked or unmarked construction areas
• Improperly installed or missing guardrails
• Inadequate lighting
• Uneven road surfaces
• Potholes
• Gravel and debris on the road
• Sudden lane restrictions
• Unexpected traffic congestion
• Sudden speed limit changes

In combination with the disruption of normal traffic patterns, these kinds of conditions frequently turn road construction zones into the sites of serious auto accidents.

Studies conducted by the Arizona DOT report that the most common type of road construction zone crash is a rear-end collision. This type of crash accounts for approximately half of all accidents. Many collisions also involve fixed objects, such as barriers and stationary construction equipment.

Common injuries in car crashes include broken bones, spinal cord injuries and brain damage. Death can also occur, and fatal accidents are often the result of single vehicle crashes.

Legal Issues to Consider

Several important factors affect the legal claims of those injured in vehicle accidents in road construction zones. Carefully documenting the conditions that led to an accident is an important first step in preparing for a lawsuit. Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-650) requires that proper warning signs and barricades be maintained for the duration of all road construction. This applies to both municipal workers and private contractors. Engaging an attorney to thoroughly analyze the accident report and interview eyewitnesses is essential to preparing for a lawsuit and improving your chances of recovering fair financial compensation.

It is also vital to identify the party responsible for the accident. If the Arizona Department of Transportation or other governmental entity controlled the road construction zone when the accident occurred, certain types of legal immunity may come into play. An attorney can determine whether the state or local government can be held liable for injuries or other damages caused by their employees or contractors. Other potentially responsible parties include private contractors, subcontractors, construction companies, engineers and surveyors that were involved with performing the construction work, maintaining the road construction zone and designing the highway or bridge. Government immunity does not shield these private parties.

Timing is a third important issue. An injured party must serve a notice of a claim involving government employees or entities within 180 days of the accident (A.R.S. § 12-821.01) and file a lawsuit within one year (A.R.S. § 12-821). Claims against other parties must be made within two years. Accident report analyses and interviews can be time-consuming, and delays, especially in the time period immediately following an accident, can be costly. In general, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a road construction zone accident to ensure that your interests are protected.

Road construction zones often present shifting traffic patterns and uneven surfaces for car and truck drivers to navigate. Often, there is little notice of these dangerous conditions. On an average day, 11 automobile accidents take place in Arizona road construction zones. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT), these accidents have accounted for over 80 deaths and more than 11,000 injuries in the past five years. Drivers and their passengers account for the vast majority of the people hurt in these accidents.

Car Accidents in Construction Zones

Construction zones are a common sight on Arizona roads these days. Many major construction projects, such as those currently underway on Interstates 10 and 17, Highway 93 and State Routes 92 and 179, are expected to extend to late 2009 or 2010. These projects cause general upheaval that can result in hazardous road conditions, including:

• Poorly marked or unmarked construction areas
• Improperly installed or missing guardrails
• Inadequate lighting
• Uneven road surfaces
• Potholes
• Gravel and debris on the road
• Sudden lane restrictions
• Unexpected traffic congestion
• Sudden speed limit changes

In combination with the disruption of normal traffic patterns, these kinds of conditions frequently turn road construction zones into the sites of serious auto accidents.

Studies conducted by the Arizona DOT report that the most common type of road construction zone crash is a rear-end collision. This type of crash accounts for approximately half of all accidents. Many collisions also involve fixed objects, such as barriers and stationary construction equipment.

Common injuries in car crashes include broken bones, spinal cord injuries and brain damage. Death can also occur, and fatal accidents are often the result of single vehicle crashes.

Legal Issues to Consider

Several important factors affect the legal claims of those injured in vehicle accidents in road construction zones. Carefully documenting the conditions that led to an accident is an important first step in preparing for a lawsuit. Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-650) requires that proper warning signs and barricades be maintained for the duration of all road construction. This applies to both municipal workers and private contractors. Engaging an attorney to thoroughly analyze the accident report and interview eyewitnesses is essential to preparing for a lawsuit and improving your chances of recovering fair financial compensation.

It is also vital to identify the party responsible for the accident. If the Arizona Department of Transportation or other governmental entity controlled the road construction zone when the accident occurred, certain types of legal immunity may come into play. An attorney can determine whether the state or local government can be held liable for injuries or other damages caused by their employees or contractors. Other potentially responsible parties include private contractors, subcontractors, construction companies, engineers and surveyors that were involved with performing the construction work, maintaining the road construction zone and designing the highway or bridge. Government immunity does not shield these private parties.

Timing is a third important issue. An injured party must serve a notice of a claim involving government employees or entities within 180 days of the accident (A.R.S. § 12-821.01) and file a lawsuit within one year (A.R.S. § 12-821). Claims against other parties must be made within two years. Accident report analyses and interviews can be time-consuming, and delays, especially in the time period immediately following an accident, can be costly. In general, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a road construction zone accident to ensure that your interests are protected.