Planning to build a home or remodel your existing home?
The Law Offices of Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston come across many construction cases where the contractor either does not have a license or the license he or she carries is out of date.
It is important to know how to hire a contractorwhen starting a construction project at your home. Here are some tips to choosing a contractor:
Make sure he or she is currently state licensed in your area. Has the construction company paid its employees legally and carry workers’ compensation, property damage and liability insurance? You should also find out how long he or she has been in business along with a list of references you can contact.
Does the contractor have a work crew or do they subcontract the work? Protect yourself from a mechanics lien by asking the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers for lien releases or waivers upon each payment.
Ask if the contractor can supply you with a fixed start and completion date included in a formal written agreement. If you aren’t normally onsite during the project it is a good idea to check in regularly to make sure everything is coming along.
Ask for an itemized price estimate from each potential contractor when getting bids. Examine each carefully paying attention to those that seem too high or too low. Lower bids may mean you will get a hasty job that won’t leave you with a quality finished product. Remember, in most cases you get what you pay for.
Ask the contractor for a schedule of the work from start to finish. If you want regular progress reports, ask for them in writing.
Don’t let your payments get ahead of the work. We recommend paying 10 percent down before they start the project. If it is a stable company they won’t need a large amount of money to pay for materials or overhead.
If you have questions about a mechaincs lien or construction issues, contact Jonathon Preston with Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC.
What to do if a mechanics lien has been filed on your property.
The first thing you should do is determine if it is a valid lien. If work has not been completed or supplies were not included in the plans and contracts, the lien may be void.
If an invalid mechanics lien was filed it can make it difficult or impossible to sell, refinance or obtain a line of credit on your property. However if the contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier fail to follow any of the specific time frames, your lien may be invalid and you may petition the court to remove the lien.
Talk with our office to find out if your lien is valid. Was the preliminary notice given to you within the specific time frames? The subcontractor or supplier will have 20 days after delivering materials or beginning work to serve a preliminary notice. If it is late, lien rights are lost on work done or materials delivered more than 20 days before the notice.
Check with your local superior court to make sure a timely lien foreclosure action was filed by the subcontractor or material supplier. A lien foreclosure action is a lawsuit to foreclose the mechanics lien. The lien claimant must file a lien foreclosure action within 90 days of the date that he or she recorded the mechanics lien.
Personal safety equipment must be worn as prescribed for each job, such as: safety glasses for eye protection, hard hats at all times within the confines of the construction area where there is a potential for falling materials or tools, gloves when handling materials, and safety shoes are necessary for protection against foot injuries.
If any part of your body should come in contact with an acid or caustic substance, rush to the nearest water available and flush the affected part. Secure medical aid immediately.
Pay attention and watch where you are walking.
A good job is a clean job, and a clean job is the start of a safe job. So keep your working area free from trash and debris.
Lift correctly with your legs, not the back. If the load is too heavy get help. Approximately twenty percent of all construction related injuries result from lifting materials.
Know what emergency procedures have been established for your job site. (Location of emergency phone, first aid kit, stretcher location, fire extinguisher locations, evacuation plan, etc.)
With new construction popping up, mechanics liens are starting to become more prevalent.
Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston would like to share some helpful tips to avoiding a mechanics lien for any projects you are involved with. Call Jonathon Preston to help with all your construction disputes.
The following are steps to avoiding a mechanics lien:
When choosing your contractor, make sure to hire only licensed contractors and make sure to verify their contractor’s license status. When your contractor hires subcontractors, make sure they are licensed. It is also a good idea to check your prime contractor’s reputation for paying its subcontractors and material suppliers. Before starting construction, get a list of all subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers to be used by your prime contractor.
When writing up your contract, come up with a payment schedule which states when specific phases of the work both start and end along with the end price for each segment.
Make sure to keep track of all paperwork. A preliminary notice is required from subcontractors and suppliers if there is a chance they may need to file a mechanic’s lien. Within the notice, it will state that the subcontractor or supplier has provided, or will provide, goods and services to improve your property and file a lien claim if they are not paid. If your subcontractors and suppliers do not provide you with this notice, they lose the right to file a lien. This notice however is not required from laborers or the direct contractor.
One of the best ways to prevent liens and ensure subcontractors and suppliers are paid is to pay with joint checks. This means both parties must endorse the check. When writing your checks, first compare the contractor’s material or labor bill to the schedule of payments in your contract and Preliminary Notices and make sure the work was done as described.
It is also a good idea to get a signed conditional release from possible mechanic’s lien claimants before making your payment. After you pay, the contractor should provide you with an unconditional release, signed by each of the claimants paid for the portion of the work being released. Ensure the actual claimant signs the unconditional release. Until the unconditional releases are signed for the previous payments, you may withhold the next payment.
After the work is completed, file a Notice of Completion which will reduce the amount of time a contractor, subcontractor, laborer or materials supplier has to record a claim.
The market is improving and we are starting to see more new construction start to go up.
When more construction starts, we see a lot more cases pop up that have to do with legal issues at construction sites.
Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston would like to share with our readers some helpful tips to avoiding a construction lawsuit:
View changes in the original constructionplan as an opportunity for mutual benefit. We all know changes in a construction project are inevitable, whether unforeseen or initiated by the owner. In a flexible environment with communication as a top priority, dealing with unexpected change can be a group effort, and open communication is key.
Make sure goals are set in place to meet the project’s schedule and budget. When faced with an issue, gather as much information as possible about the given subject before proceeding.
Hire a constructionmanager to better articulate the owner’s goals and facilitate the contractor’s work. A qualified construction manager knows what to look for during your project’s design in order to avoid legal action later.
Build a relationship with your project team and make trust and communication your biggest asset. During the bidding period you can test each partner’s knowledge and willingness to work together.
Do you have questions about a legal matter for a construction project you are involved with? Please call our offices at 951-461-2500.
Don’t let your business get caught up in a lawsuit.
Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston APC has a lot of experience with assisting businesses in legal matters and would like to share some tips to avoid a lawsuit as a business owner:
Be Safe – Of course accidents can happen but if you take the proper steps to avoid accidents you will be much better off. Keep areas where employees and customers walk safe and free of obstacles which can cause danger
Keep Things Documented – Creating a well drafted contract will help avoid misunderstandings and prevent lawsuits. Keep all emails, invoices, contracts and even telephone messages to resolve future problems.
Understand The Law – Make sure your business is not in violation of any property laws. Make sure no one else owns the trademark on your business name.
Protect Files – Make sure all your computer’s files are backed up. Files can also be lost and/or stolen and that can lead to legal action. Make sure they are protected.
Handbook – It is a good idea to create an employee handbook which contains all sensitive employment issues such as maternity leave, sick leave, compensation, termination, benefits, etc.
Hire A Lawyer – It is smart to have a lawyer hired for your business and to make sure you are in compliance while running your business. Call our offices for all your business needs!
With new construction coming up around town, our office sees a lot of construction lawsuits popping up.
Page, Lobo, Costales and Preston, APC, would like to share some helpful tips to staying safe and stress free on the construction site:
Use Proper Tools – Tools are designed to make your life easier. Make sure the tools you use are ergonomically engineered to avoid injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis. Use tools which need less force and don’t strain your hand when you hold them.
Proper Lifting – If you have to lift heavy objects, always bend at your knees and avoid twisting to the side when lifting. It is easy to injure yourself carrying heavy objects however it is not difficult to avoid injury.
Avoid Squatting – Sit on a stool or chair to work instead of kneeling or squatting if you have to work at lower levels.
Stay Safe Around Equipment – When getting on and off heavy equipment, exercise caution. Avoid carrying objects while climbing into equipment and make sure to have a tight grip when lifting or lowering yourself into equipment.
Tool Belt – It is very important to make sure your tool belt is well balanced or else it will throw your body out of alignment. Make necessary adjustments so the tool belt is well balanced on both sides.
Avoid Shortcuts – Accidents occur when workers look for shortcuts to cut costs or get the job done on time if weather and/or supplies cause a delay.