Construction law involves any legal issue related to the construction of a building or other structure. Legal issues related to construction activities can arise under federal, state, or local laws. Federal statutes, such as workplace safety regulations and employment laws, can impose requirements on worksites and hiring practices. States may impose additional regulations on top of federal ones, which can range from safety and employment to environmental rules. City and county ordinances may impose additional restrictions on zoning and construction noise. With all of the levels of government playing a role in construction regulation, legal issues can arise in a number of ways. Common construction-related legal disputes include workplace injuries and accidents, construction defects, contract issues, and problems with obtaining the proper planning or building permits.
Terms to Know
• Defect – A flaw in a construction plan or building that creates an unreasonable risk of harm in its normal use
• Mechanic’s Lien – A charge or encumbrance placed on a building or a building site by a construction company to assure payment for its labor, services, or materials
• Contractor – One that contracts to erect or repair buildings; usually requires a license from the state or local government
• Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – A federal agency that governs workplace safety and health precautions
• American Institute of Architects – A trade organization that publishes more than 100 forms and contracts that have become the industry standard for construction contracts
Other Considerations When Hiring a Construction Lawyer
Financial issues are some of the most common types of legal issues that can arise during a construction project. Some construction projects go over budget due to unanticipated labor or materials costs. Alternatively, some customers refuse to pay construction companies for a finished product that does not meet their expectations. When these legal issues arise, construction companies and contractors have a variety of legal options, ranging from suing for breach of contract to placing a lien on the finished work. Many contractors seek legal help immediately upon notice of a brewing financial dispute in order to protect all of their legal rights. Government contracts play a large role in construction law. When bidding on a government construction project, contractors must pay close attention to the specifications of the job to ensure that they will be able to comply with any additional requirements. Because the law related to government contracts is constantly changing, many contractors bidding on government work may need legal counsel sooner than they might otherwise expect. If you are facing a construction law issue, contact a construction lawyer immediately to protect your legal rights and explore your legal options.
What Does a Construction Lawyer Do?
Construction lawyers provide a wide range of services to anyone involved in any stage of a construction project. From planning to completion, construction lawyers represent owners, designers, architects, material suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors. A construction lawyer will assist their client with scheduling, budgeting, fulfilling regulatory guidelines, contracting, submitting claims, terminations, and so much more. A construction lawyer also works preventatively by being actively involved throughout the construction process in order to avoid litigation, arbitration, and other legal conflicts. Most importantly, a construction lawyer has an intimate, expert understanding of both construction and construction law. A construction lawyer understands all stages, tasks, machinery, and other fine details that make-up a construction site. A construction lawyer is not a dabbling layman: he/ she has an expert understanding of the construction process, as well as the wide bulk of substantive law.
What Construction Lawyer Cover?
A construction lawyer can help with a myriad of areas relevant to the construction process. A construction lawyer must have comprehensive knowledge of the planning, execution, and completion of a construction project in order to provide their specialized services.
Some of the major areas a construction lawyer covers are:
• Alternative Dispute Resolutions
• Building permits
• Case Law Summary
• Construction claims
• Constructions liens\
• Davis-Bacon Act, wage requirements
• Drafting construction contracts
• Employment Immigration
• Environmental matters in construction law
• False Claims Act
• Federal construction
• Fire regulations
• Fulfilling regulations for non-discrimination
• Industry-standard construction contracts
• Insurances issues
• Labor issues
• Licensing construction professionals\
• Negotiating construction contract
• Negotiating litigation of a termination claim
• OSHA, and other federal agencies
• Project delivery systems
• Prompt payments
• Provide defense to businesses facing administrative actions
• Provide legal counsel
• Public construction
• State building codes
• State contracting procedures
• Surety Law
• Sustainable construction
• Trials: trying construction cases in court
• Unresolved damages claims
Drafting & Negotiating Construction Contracts
When a company, or owner, retains contracting services, they are entering into a binding contract with the contractor. A construction lawyer will ensure the contract is legally sound, grounded in reasonable expectations, accounts for proper notice requirements and jobsite conditions. This includes accounting for jobsite conditions, scheduling delays, insurance, and unforeseen circumstances. A construction lawyer can also provide revisions to existing contracts.
A construction lawyer will ensure a contractor receives the full payment promised, covering a myriad of costs including labor, equipment, and materials. A construction lawyer will ensure that all costs incurred will be covered in their contract’s terms. A construction lawyer can also take civil action to recover any unpaid sum, as well as file mechanics liens and claims against a payment bond on both public and private projects. A construction lawyer can also defend those who have had a claim for payment made against them.
Assisting with Construction Proposals
A construction lawyer can help with all requests for proposals, bidding for proposals, IFB invitation for bidding, as well as assisting with contract interpretations. A construction lawyer can also help protesting/challenging unawarded proposals.
Submitting Construction Claims
A construction lawyer can submit a claim for added compensation and added time, and represent the claimant throughout any dispute resolution procedures or negotiations. A construction lawyer can also submit claims for unforeseen circumstances such as unanticipated jobsite conditions, defects in designs, as well as delays, disruptions, or any interference in work. A construction lawyer will ensure all claims conform to any contractual obligations or legal requirements.
How a Construction Lawyer Help With Contract Terminations
A construction lawyer will help review current contracts, determine justifiable termination, and follow proper procedures to ensure a successful termination. A construction lawyer will represent you in any subsequent litigation or arbitration. A construction lawyer can both prevent wrongful terminations and defend claimants of wrongful termination.
A good construction lawyer will, of course, represent and defend you during any necessary trials, arbitrations, or litigations–an exceptional construction lawyer will actively work to prevent any conflicts from arising, saving you time, money, and stress. A construction lawyer will anticipate any possible disagreements or disputes and then adjust accordingly in order to prevent those issues from growing into actual legal action. A construction lawyer is your advocate, relying on their expertise and intimate knowledge of construction law to help you avoid any conflict whatsoever, and resolving all issues before it can influence construction.
Who Needs a Construction Lawyer?
Anyone involved during any step of a public, private, or federal construction project can benefit from retaining a construction lawyer. A construction lawyer not only protects you from (and represents you during) legal conflict, but they also keep you on track with budgets, timelines, and following imposed codes. A construction lawyer will ensure your jobsite runs efficiently, effectively, and safely. A construction lawyer has a keen legal eye for the specifications of government contracting and contract breaches alike. They are a vital part of your construction team, and as such will become very familiar with the site, people, machinery, and contracts; they are so intimately working with. A construction lawyer will know you, protect you, defend you and save you time, stress, and money.
You may benefit from seeking council with a construction lawyer if you:
• need a permit
• are concerned about environmental regulations
• need government approval/permission
• are hosting a town hearing
• need to follow local, state, or federal regulations
• need to draft a contract
• need to review a contract
• are planning a new project
• are in the process of a project
• are completing a project
• need to create any legal document to supplement your project
• are concerned about lawsuits (filing, or being filed against)
• are having a dispute/disagreement with your employer
• are having a dispute/disagreement with your employee
File a Preliminary Lien Notice in Utah
The first step in protecting your lien rights in Utah is to file a preliminary notice. Utah is one of the states in which filing a preliminary notice is required for all construction participants. Whether you’re a contractor, subcontractor, material supplier, architect, or designer, you will have to file a preliminary notice for your potential mechanics lien to be considered valid. Claimants looking to file a preconstruction lien are required to file a Utah Notice of Retention also known as the Utah Notice of Preconstructive Services while claimants looking to file a traditional mechanics lien must file a Utah Preliminary Notice.
How do I file a preliminary lien notice in Utah?
All preliminary notices in Utah are filed in the State Construction Registry (SCR). This is a centralized registry that allows construction professionals to file and track their lien-related documents. While the online registry helps you file the preliminary notice easier, you will still have to do legwork by gathering the required information. According to UTA 38-1a-501, these are the pieces of information that you need for your preliminary notice:
I. the name, address, telephone number, and email address of the person providing the construction work for which the preliminary notice is filed;
II. the name and address of the person who contracted with the claimant for the construction work;
III. the name of the owner or reputed owner;
IV. the name of the original contractor for construction work under which the claimant is providing or will provide construction work;
V. the address of the project property or a description of the location of the project;
VI. the name of the county in which the project property is located; and
VII. the tax parcel identification number of each parcel included in the project property;
VIII. the entry number of a previously filed notice of construction loan under Section 38-1a-601 on the same project;
IX. the entry number of a previously filed preliminary notice on the same project that includes the tax parcel identification number of each parcel included in the project property; or
X. the entry number of the building permit issued for the project.
Utah Construction Liens
A construction (or “mechanic’s”) lien gives builders, contractors, and suppliers legal recourse to get paid for their work as well as any materials or supplies purchased for a project. This recourse is in the form of a right to interfere with your ability to convey clear title to your real property and/or to foreclose the construction lien to take title to that property. Mechanic’s lien is a term originally associated with the automobile industry. When the owner of the automobile failed to pay the bill for the repair services, the mechanic was allowed to place a lien on the car’s title by filing a claim in the local magistrate’s office, and often allowed to retain possession of the vehicle until the lien was paid off (or “satisfied”). This practice was eventually followed in the construction industry and today, a mechanics’ lien is an effective remedy for contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers involved in the construction or improvement of real estate to resolve payment problems. If a service or material provider records a mechanics’ lien against the real estate being improved, it becomes difficult for the owner of the property to sell or refinance the property without first paying off the debt secured by the lien. The lien creates an interest in ownership of the property, meaning that at some point the person who placed the lien (the “lienor”) may have a right to foreclose that lien and take title to the property if the debt is not satisfied. As a result, banks will be reluctant to lend and buyers will not be interested in buying because they may lose their rights in the property. Although all 50 states have construction lien laws, laws differ widely from state to state. Some variations include notice requirements that those who may be able to claim a mechanic’s lien must provide to the owner of the property, the amount of time in which the lienor has to place the lien, and the degrees of separation between the lienor and the owner of the house (i.e., was the lienor a sub-sub contractor, and if so, do they have a right to lien the property?).
The best way to avoid construction liens is to stay on top of your construction workers and make sure everyone has been paid as they are supposed to be. If you have a contractor who is failing to pay the sub-contractors or suppliers, you may be on the hook, so do not be afraid to insist on receiving proof of payment and having recourse in your construction contract against the contractor should they fail to pay these parties. If anything is filed against your property, take it seriously, even if you do not believe it is valid. The worst possible thing you can do is ignore the problem and hope it will go away. Chances are, it will not. If you are facing the possibility of having a construction lien placed against your property, contact a qualified, experienced construction attorney for advice on how best to handle the situation. Many construction lien laws contain very specific requirements for how the lien must be recorded and how notice must be provided to the property owner. Any misstep may invalidate the lien, and an attorney with experience in this area of the law may be better able to identify those defects and guide you through the process of exploiting it. You may also have claims against other parties responsible for causing the conditions that led to the lien, and your attorney may be able to assist you with those claims, as well. Also, attorney fees are often recoverable in such disputes, meaning you will either not have to pay or will have your attorney fees and costs reimbursed if you are successful in your case.
Construction Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need a lawyer to help you with lien law or construction law in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506