TEN NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR CONTRACTORS-2021

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   As I sit down to write my annual list of resolutions for contractors, I am amazed at how much things changed in 2020. Construction was going well and then, in March 2020, COVID-19 hit. At first, we thought it was going to be a disaster for the construction industry. States, cities and towns shut down projects and many applied for PPP loans. Then, something amazing happened. Construction was considered an essential service and everyone was back to work.  That said, the work world changed: companies were donating their PPE to frontline workers, COVID-19 protocols had to be followed and paperwork had to be filed. Everyone was scrambling to figure out how to comply and keep their businesses going. So, you may or may not ask, what was I, as a construction lawyer doing? I spent March and April thinking about the new risks contractors/construction companies were facing and developing contract clauses to protect the industry. I wrote a number of blog posts with clauses to add to your contra

When the Homeowner is a Bully

I've seen a new trend in contractor disputes lately, and it isn't pretty.  Some homeowners are making unreasonable demands on contractors, and bullying them into doing work without getting paid.  They unreasonably withhold payments, or impose penalties for delays that they cause.  They expect contractors to do all kinds of extra work without being paid or changing the completion date.

I have had a series of these recently.  What is a contractor to do?
  1. When first meeting with a homeowner, trust your instincts.  If you are sensing red flags, do not take the job.
  2. Never let the work get ahead of the money.  If there is a change order, make sure that the payment is contemporaneous with the work.
  3. Make sure that all change orders are in writing and reflect any change in the contract price and date of substantial completion.
  4. Include a provision in your contract that entitles you to get attorney's fees if you have to go after a client for payment.
  5. Make sure that your contract is in compliance with state and federal law.
  6. Include clauses in your contract that allow you to stop work if payment isn't made in a timely fashion.
  7. Make sure that your pricing is contingent upon reaching clear-cut milestones and that your clients understand how allowances work.
  8. Do not cut your margins so much that you don't have a cushion in order to profit from a job.
  9. If you work on a Time and Materials basis, bill weekly and communicate regularly with the homeowner.
  10. Send me your contract.  I will review it and let you know if it needs work, and I will quote you a flat fee for bringing it into compliance with state law and adding clauses to protect you.

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