There are many laws and regulations affecting those who work in the construction field as well as individuals who hire contractors to complete work for them. An experienced Florida construction lawyer can help you to ensure you’re navigating these legal issues correctly. Apfelbaum Law can assist you and guide you through all your construction law matters.
Florida Construction Law
State construction laws cover various areas dealing with many different issues. The rights and liabilities of the homeowner are important in understanding these laws. The homeowner has specific rights when doing construction projects. These rights include damages owed if the homeowner sustains an injury (usually a financial one) through a contractor or employee working on the building. On the other hand, there are also liabilities that require the owner to make sure the contractor is paid. These same rights also extend to other related professionals, including architects, engineers, construction companies and managers, and general contractors and subcontractors. The property owner has a responsibility to make sure any contractors working on their project are paid.
Florida also has a variety of laws covering bids for projects, and disputes about these bids. Bids and projects are often open to both public entities and private individuals. In some cases though, there are private contracts that only allow certain individuals or entities to bid on a project. These jobs typically have a specific binding contract with provisions to ensure the company’s and the contractor’s rights are protected. These contracts are complex, so it’s important to consult an experienced Florida construction lawyer if you have questions about this type of contract.
Handling a Dispute
Construction laws in Florida give the property owner the ability to sue the contractor or other professional if they feel a project wasn’t completed according to the terms of their contract. Similarly, this contractor or professional can litigate against the homeowner for a legal dispute with the contract—usually these disputes relate to unpaid bills.
What should you do if you think you may have a claim against a contractor, or if you’re a contractor with a claim against a project owner? Going over the contract with a Florida construction lawyer is the next best step. Your lawyer will help you figure out if compensation is possible based on the terms of the contract. If you go to trial, the judge or jury will determine whether there is a breach or violation of the contract. In some cases, your attorney may be able to work things out with the other party and their attorney without going to court, arriving at a settlement. Although this is not always possible, in some situations it may save both parties time and money to settle out of court.
What Kind of Damages Can Be Recovered?
If a settlement can’t be reached and the court determines that there has been a breach of contract, there are several possible damages that you may recover. If you are a contractor, subcontractor, or other hired professional, these damages are usually in the form of unpaid work which you will want to be paid for. As the owner of the property or project, you will want to recover compensation for the breach, incomplete work, and other expenses for materials or equipment not received. If you’ve had to take someone to court over paid-for work they haven’t completed, you probably don’t want them to finish the job now—you just want to be financially compensated so you can hire someone else.
Sometimes clients ask about liens, either because they think they might need to get one, or because a contractor has taken one out on their property. In Florida, there are multiple regulations involving the mechanic’s lien. In construction matters, a contractor may take out a lien on a piece of property they’ve worked on if they weren’t fully paid for their work.
For example, let’s say that Bob did some construction work on Jim’s house. Jim wanted a deck put in outside of his back door. He also wanted to knock down a wall and turn two inside rooms into a much larger game room. For all this work, he agreed to pay Bob a certain amount plus pay for or provide all the materials. This was all explicitly spelled out in Bob’s contract. Unfortunately, after Bob completed the project, he only received payment for the work. Jim refused to pay for the materials, claiming these were Bob’s problem. In this case, Bob might want to speak with a construction lawyer about getting a lien on Jim’s house.
If you need assistance with construction law issues, or have questions about any potential legal matter, please contact Apfelbaum Law for a consultation. We have offices in Port St. Lucie and Stuart, but provide legal services throughout the Treasure Coast and Florida.