What Is Construction Law?
Construction law relates to the legal issues involved in the construction industry. It deals with matters that relate to construction, building, engineering and other related fields. In essence, it is a combination of commercial law, contract law, planning law, tort, and employment law. With many levels of government involved in construction regulation, there are many ways in which legal issues can arise. Common construction law issues include:
– Workplace accidents and injuries
– Contract issues
– Construction defects
– Issues with obtaining proper building or planning permits
Legal issues from construction activities can arise under state, local or federal laws. Federal statutes can impose worksite and hiring practice requirements such as employment laws and workplace safety regulations. Certain states may impose regulations in addition to federal ones ranging from employment safety to environmental rules. County and city ordinances, in turn, may impose restrictions on construction noise and zoning.
Government contracts play a large part in construction law and contractors bidding on a government project should pay careful attention that they are able to comply with the specifications of the project and with any additional requirements. Contractors involved in government projects will need legal counsel because the laws relating to government construction contracts are constantly changing.
The most common types of legal issues that arise during a construction project are financial issues. Construction projects may go over budget due to un-anticipated materials or labour costs or a customer could refuse to pay for the finished product because the building does not meet with expectations. When these types of legal issues arise, contractors and construction companies have recourse to a variety of options ranging from breach of contract to having a lien placed on the completed work. It is advisable to seek immediate legal assistance from a qualified attorney experienced in construction law as soon as it becomes evident that a financial dispute might be brewing.
Other issues that may cause legal disputes include defects which are flaws in construction buildings or plans that can create an unreasonable risk of injury or harm in normal use. A building contractor that erects or repairs buildings requires a license to do so from local or state government. When a financial dispute arises an encumbrance or charge can be placed on a building site or building by the construction company in order to assure that payment is received for materials, services, and labour. This is called a Mechanic’s Lien.
OSHA or Occupational Safety & Health Administration is a federal agency governing workplace health and safety precautions and the American Institute of Architects is a trade organization that has more than a hundred contracts and forms related to construction projects that have become standard in the industry for construction contracts.
If you are involved in a construction project, whether it is a personal client, an organization or a government project, it is important to know your rights and the specific specifications of the job you are embarking on. If a construction law issue arises you should immediately contact a reputable construction lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that all your legal options are explored.