Most construction and design firms have had to deal with numerous legal requirements and challenges that impact their projects, operations, and bottom line. It’s frustrating when complex regulations, lien claims, and other legal challenges take away valuable time and resources from the job at hand.
Without qualified legal representation and guidance, firms often find themselves spending more time on legal hurdles than on designing or constructing. Working with a knowledgeable construction law firm helps overcome these burdens and allows you to concentrate on your primary tasks, all while ensuring legal compliance and protection throughout your project’s lifespan.
Here we will highlight how a Cobb Cole construction law attorney can help your firm handle rules, litigation, and other legal matters so you can focus on your core activities, confident that you’re in capable hands.
The Role of a Construction Law Attorney
Construction law attorneys play multifaceted and indispensable roles in the construction industry. Construction firms, developers, contractors, and other stakeholders can benefit from their specialized knowledge and expertise in construction law as well as their thorough understanding of the unique challenges and complexities inherent to the construction sector.
In short, they are an invaluable asset in various aspects of the construction process, providing:
- Essential guidance during various contract negotiations, ensuring your firm’s rights, duties, and obligations are clearly defined and protected.
- Legal advice on compliance and regulatory matters, including construction regulations, zoning ordinances, and environmental laws.
- Critical representation in disputes, conflicts, and claims like delays, construction defects, and payment disputes.
- Mediation, arbitration, or litigation services to seek fair resolutions and protect your firm’s interests.
- Assistance in handling construction lien claims and payment bond issues to ensure lien rights are protected and exercised correctly.
Investing in a construction law attorney is a proactive approach to risk management for any size project. Cobb Cole’s attorneys are skilled in anticipating potential legal challenges, negotiating contracts, resolving disputes, and more. We provide preventive counsel to help your firm mitigate risks and safeguard its financial stability, helping you enhance overall project management that can lead to greater profitability and a competitive edge.
Let’s look at the top six reasons Central Florida construction and design firms seek representation from the construction law attorneys at Cobb Cole.
1. Real Estate Purchase
Cobb Cole provides adept and efficient assistance throughout all phases of a property’s purchase, from negotiations to due diligence and closing. We review property records, zoning regulations, titles, and existing encumbrances and liens that could affect the purchase. By identifying these potential risks, we help you make informed decisions and avoid costly future surprises.
We represent developers, investors, and REITs in all real estate acquisition and disposition matters and consider ourselves an integral part of closing the deal and protecting our client’s interests.
Our construction law attorneys are well-versed in regulatory requirements and can help your firm navigate local building codes, permits, and environmental rules to ensure the intended use of the property aligns with legal requirements. We always advocate for a client’s best interests when dealing with third parties like real estate agents, sellers, and government agencies.
2. Land Use & Zoning Changes
Land use and zoning changes are modifications to the regulations of how a piece of land can be used and developed. They can have a major impact on design and construction. Related legal issues typically include:
- Project feasibility
- Land valuation
- Regulatory compliance
- Entitlement process
- Market shifts
- Environmental impact
We conduct comprehensive research to confirm current zoning restrictions and analyze what if any impact changes you want to make will have. By identifying potential issues upfront, we help you make an informed decision about your project’s viability. We also prepare land use and zoning change applications and consult with local, state, and federal agencies when necessary. Our construction lawyers craft and present compelling arguments in favor of a client’s proposed use or change, effectively addressing any community or stakeholder concerns.
3. Construction Contract Negotiations
Negotiating and drafting agreements for exhaustive construction contracts ensures your interests are protected and potential disputes are minimized.
Our construction law attorneys:
- Review proposed contracts to highlight ambiguous language or unfavorable terms.
- Work closely with firms to negotiate amendments or revisions that align with their objectives.
- Ensure all essential terms are explicitly stated, including timelines, project scope, payment schedule, change orders, warranties, and dispute resolution processes. This reduces the risk of misunderstandings and disagreements during the construction process.
- Help firms manage risk via appropriate indemnification and liability clauses that strike a balance between each party’s responsibilities.
- Provide valuable guidance on industry-standard practices and legal requirements, ensuring your firm is in compliance with relevant laws.
We act as your firm’s strong advocate throughout the negotiation process and use our construction law expertise to ensure favorable terms and conditions.
4. Construction Defect Litigation
Construction defects are flaws or deficiencies in a construction project’s design, materials, or performance. They manifest in various ways, including water leaks, structural issues, faulty HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems, or substandard work.
If your firm is accused of project defects, our construction law attorneys provide expert legal representation that protects your legal rights, financial interests, and reputation. To do that, we:
- Conduct a comprehensive investigation into the alleged defects.
- Work with experts like architects, engineers, and other consultants to assess a claim’s validity or determine the cause or extent of any defects.
- Communicate with opposing parties and their representatives, acting as a buffer between you and the claimants and protecting your firm from possible misunderstandings or legal pitfalls.
- Evaluate insurance policies for possible compensation or defense coverage.
- Engage in settlement negotiations, seeking to resolve the dispute through alternative means like arbitration or mediation to save time and money.
- Represent your firm in court, presenting a compelling defense to support your stance and rights.
Throughout the negotiation and litigation process, we keep your firm informed on all progress and provide legal advice that helps you make the right decisions for your long-term goals.
5. Construction Lien Claims & Defense
Also referred to as mechanics liens, construction liens are legal claims filed by contractors, subcontractors, vendors, suppliers, and other parties who’ve provided materials, labor, or another service for a construction project yet claim they haven’t been fully compensated.
A construction lien defense involves the legal strategies a construction law attorney uses to challenge or dispute a construction lien’s validity. It can include anything from proving a claimant didn’t meet the lien’s filing requirements to showing the work, materials, or other service provided was subpar or not completed according to a contract.
If your firm is facing a construction lien claim, our attorneys can provide valuable support by:
- Evaluating the claim’s validity by examining the circumstances, including agreements, payment records, and other project documents.
- Strategizing with you to find the best approach to addressing a legitimate claim.
- Rigorously defending your rights if the construction lien is baseless or improperly filed. Steps can include filing a lien release bond or seeking a court order to remove the lien.
Throughout the lien claim and defense process, we keep you informed of your rights and obligations and guide you through each step. Our attorneys’ deep understanding of the construction industry and Florida’s lien laws ensures your firm’s interests are protected and it’s well-equipped to manage any lien-related disputes that arise.
6. Performance & Payment Bond Claims
If one or more of the parties involved in a construction project file legal action against the project’s surety bond, it’s typically because there are concerns about the contractor’s ability to fulfill its contractual obligations.
- Performance bonds ensure the contractor completes a project in accordance with the contract’s terms.
- Payment bonds guarantee third-party subcontractors, workers, and suppliers are compensated for their work.
Cobb Cole’s construction law attorneys provide essential assistance with performance and payment bond claims in various ways, including:
- Helping your firm understand the terms and conditions of the performance and payment bonds.
- Ensuring the bonds meet all necessary legal requirements and that the parties understand their rights and responsibilities under them.
- Evaluating a claim’s validity.
- Assisting your firm in documenting its performance under the contract, including records that confirm project progress, change orders, and scope modifications.
- Gathering evidence and responding to the claim with a strong defense.
- Negotiating and mediating disputes so as to obtain a fair and efficient resolution.
- Representing your firm in court, if necessary.
Emerging Trends in Construction Law
Design and construction laws aim to build safer and more efficient projects. Over the past several years, certain trends have emerged that firms and their legal teams should be aware of, including:
- The use of contract terms to address supply chains and inflation, such as negotiating early payment terms for shipping and storage costs.
- The use of technology to manage labor shortages and increase productivity.
- Evolving construction coverage, including Builders Risk insurance, to fit potential failures.
- Adjusting terms and conditions to define risks like pandemics as excusable delays.
- The use of smart and high-tech equipment, including robots, drones, and augmented reality.
- Obligations relevant to green construction.
- Legal implications of modular and off-site construction practices.
- Spreading risks among all parties in design and construction projects.
Of final note, in April of this year, Florida enacted SB 360, which will significantly impact construction laws in the state.
Designed to provide greater protection for contractors and design professionals, takeaways of the law include:
- A reduction in the “statute of repose” for construction defect claims from ten to seven years. This shortened period means building owners are barred from bringing defect claims seven years after the project’s completion, even if the owner was unaware of a defect.
- In multi-building projects, each building will be considered a separate project for the statute of limitations purposes.
- A new “materiality” requirement to statutory claims requires a claimant to demonstrate a building code violation was a material factor in causing an alleged defect. This regulation aims to prevent claims based on minor or insignificant code violations that don’t impact a building’s safety or habitability.
Construction Law Advice You Can Depend On
The construction law attorneys at Cobb Cole are dedicated professionals committed to providing expert assistance to design and construction firms throughout Central Florida. From contract negotiations to land use and zoning changes, we ensure your firm is protected and compliant with local, state, and federal construction laws.
Our attorneys can assist your firm with construction lien claims and payment bond issues, safeguarding its legal rights, reputation, and financial interests. With an unmatched knowledge of the construction industry’s legal landscape, our Firm offers unparalleled guidance and advocacy, helping your design or construction firm navigate legal challenges successfully while achieving your goals with confidence. You can rely on our legal team to be your unwavering partner throughout your construction projects.