Hiring a construction attorney is the best way to protect yourself before, during, and after a construction project. Construction attorneys in Los Angeles also handle contract negotiations, mediation, contract disputes, construction defect litigation, payment liens and transactions, and negligence claims.
Stone & Sallus is a top-rated Los Angeles business and real estate attorney with decades of combined experience in construction law. Our construction attorneys represent all parties at any stage of the project. At Stone & Sallus, we care about doing the right thing and represent contractors, subcontractors, engineers, suppliers, architects, buyers, and homeowners. Contract dispute or litigation clients are accepted case by case based on the merits of the claims.
Our experienced construction attorneys represent clients in the following activities:
Construction Real Estate Contracts
Stone & Sallus real estate and construction attorneys represent any side of a construction project to negotiate, draft, and enforce construction real estate contracts. There are three primary concerns that are often overlooked in construction contracts.
Contractor’s Right to Cancel
A homeowner, home buyer, or home seller have the right to cancel any construction contract within 3 days without cost, penalty, or obligation. However, the same rights are not automatically extended to contractors, subcontractors, architects, and other parties. Construction contracts should include clauses that allow cancellation of the contract under certain circumstances.
Errors and Omissions
Errors and omissions happen when mistakes are made in performance of the contract and result in the work not being completed correctly. These mistakes most commonly happen when subcontracting work previously awarded to another contractor. Communication and contractual issues with subcontractors can result in injuries, delays, or property damage.
Noncompliance of Construction Contracts
Noncompliance is a breach of contract that involves failing to follow applicable laws in the course of completing the construction project. A contractor is noncompliant in a construction contract when laws have not been followed. Common noncompliance issues include failure to obtain proper permits or failing to meet building codes.
Construction Defect Claims
Construction defect claims can be complicated, and the attorneys at Stone & Sallus are prepared to represent either party. The most common construction defects are defective foundations, floors, walls, roof, windows, plumbing, HVAC, or electrical systems. To deter frivolous lawsuits, the property owner of a single-family residential property must follow pre-legislation procedures before filing an action. This does not apply to other types of construction.
California Home Warranty Law
A quality and professional home builder will offer their own written warranty as part of the construction contract. California has an implied new home warranty that must be upheld by any contractor. The new home warranty covers:
- One year warranty – Manufactured products like appliances and fit and finish of cabinets, flooring, countertops, trim, etc.
- Two year warranty – Untreated wood or dryer ducts
- Four year warranty – Plumbing and sewer systems, electrical systems, exterior improved surfaces and fencing
- Five year warranty – Paint and stains
- Ten year warranty – Foundations, walls, support beams, roofs, and other components of new homes not otherwise covered.
It is important to note that this only applies to single family new home warranties. Details of the California new home warranty law can be found in Civil Code 896 referred to as the “Right to Repair Act.”
Landslide, Soil Movement, Slope Failure Claims
Excavation and landscaping must be performed correctly to avoid future landslides, soil movement, or slope failure. These issues can lead to construction defect claims against the contractor responsible in the event erosion or soil movement causes damaged to the property, surrounding properties, or easements.
Design Defect Claims
Design defect claims happen when construction was completed to specifications and design, but flaws in the design or blueprints themselves lead to construction defects. The entity responsible for design defects depend on the circumstances and parties involved.
Construction Arbitration and Mediation
Construction disputes can often be resolved through arbitration or mediation. In mediation, Stone & Sallus construction attorneys open lines of communication and assist in interpreting the terms of construction contracts. Arbitration is a form of mediation that is as legally binding as the contract itself.
California requires homeowners of new single-family dwellings to attempt mediation or arbitration to resolve construction disputes before filing a civil action in court. The experienced attorneys at Stone & Sallus can help you meet this and other prelitigation requirements
While construction disputes and defects should be remedied or resolved by the parties to the construction contract whenever possible, construction litigation is necessary when mediation and arbitration fail. Stone & Sallus construction attorneys are proud to represent the side of right in construction litigation, whether that means representing the general contractor, the developer, or the end property owner.
Prompt Payment Claims
California prompt payment laws found in California Civil Code § 3260.1 and state that property owners must make prompt payment within 30 days of demand for payment by the contractor. The contractor must then promptly pay subcontractors within 15 days of receiving payment from the owner. A penalty of 2% per month can be imposed for delayed payments.
An owner or contractor may withhold up to 150% of payments for construction defects or construction disputes. However, when these funds are found to have been withheld in error the penalty will apply from the first month of delinquency.
There are many reasons a construction project might be delayed. Delays in commercial construction projects can be very costly, but even residential construction delays can result in financial losses. If a home is not completed on time, temporary lodging costs could be recovered through a delay claim. However, it must be proven that the contractor acted negligently resulting in the delay.
Negligence or Willful Misconduct
Negligence and willful misconduct claims are based on intentional negligence or dishonesty in the course of a project. Negligence disputes occur when the owner or contractor claim that the contractor or subcontractor failed to act or perform appropriately resulting in damages, delays, or losses. Willful misconduct is when a contractor or subcontractor makes promises they have not kept. Often negligence and willful misconduct claims are misunderstandings easily resolved through mediation.
Mechanic’s liens provide a pathway for contractors to force payment for materials and services rendered. It is important that mechanic’s liens be filed properly so that they can be enforced. The lien puts a cloud on the title that must be resolved before the property can be resold. Mechanic’s liens can also prevent you from getting a secondary mortgage. Some contractors mistakenly file a lien when proper grounds do not exist, which can lead to further construction disputes.
Easements are a right of access that is legally granted and is difficult to remove. It is common to require easements for road or utility access when building a new home. Some property owners may be hesitant to allow easement even on a temporary basis as needed for construction. When contractors or new home owners abuse easements created on surrounding property it can result in disputes.
Speak With An Experienced Los Angeles Construction Attorney Today
Hiring an experienced Los Angeles construction attorney should be the first step in any construction project. Whether you are still in the negotiation phase or have a pending construction contract dispute or defect, Stone & Sallus construction attorneys are here to serve you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.