header_flipper_chambers

Ft. Lauderdale, May 26, 2017 — The 2017 Chambers USA Guide, one of the legal profession’s most preeminent rankings directories, has ranked Becker & Poliakoff’s Construction Law and Litigation Group and its chairman, Steven Lesser, in its top tier of Florida’s construction law practices and attorneys. In addition to the entire group and Mr. Lesser’s Band 1 ranking, shareholders Lee A. Weintraub and Sanjay Kurian received high rankings.

Chambers selects attorneys and practices for inclusion based on thousands of interviews with practicing lawyers and clients worldwide. Attorneys, practice areas and firms are ranked by placement in “bands,” with Band 1 being the highest ranking.

Chambers’ sources praise the Construction Group’s commitment to client service, with one interviewee noting: “I would describe them as being highly reliable and delivering terrific client service.” Another interviewee said: “My impression of the team is excellent — nothing dropped through the tracks! Monthly billing was clear and easy to follow, and overall the value of the team was very good.”

“We are honored to receive this prestigious recognition,” said Steven Lesser. “It is very rewarding to be recognized by our clients and colleagues for the success of our work.”

Ft. Lauderdale-headquartered Becker & Poliakoff is multi-practice commercial law firm with more than 150 attorneys, lobbyists and other professionals.

For further information, please contact Andi Phillips, Media Director, andi@roarmedia.com, (305) 403-2080, Ext. 128.

cea_william_20170118Becker & Poliakoff attorneys, led by shareholder William Cea, have secured a significant court ruling in favor of their client, Premier Parks, ending this case and providing for open competition to bid on a future water park planned for 65 acres in Fort Lauderdale (Premier Parks v. City of Fort Lauderdale).

Premier Parks, the parent company of Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach, filed suit in October 2015 after the City tried to allow Schlitterbahn, a waterpark operator, to build on a 65-acre property owned by the City, including the existing Ft. Lauderdale and Lockhart Stadium facilities. After buying out the Federal Government’s interest in the land in 2015, the City agreed to enter into a 30-year lease with Schlitterbahn. Premier Parks argued that the City should have been required to obtain competitive bids for the project and the court agreed.

Gary Rosen, managing shareholder of Becker & Poliakoff, said: “This was a challenging case and we believed in our client’s right to compete for an opportunity to develop the property. We are extremely pleased for our client and are very gratified that the court has agreed with our view that the city should have submitted this to public bid.”

Media inquiries should be directed to Andi Phillips, Media Director, andi@roarmedia.com, (305) 403-2080, Ext. 128.

There was a recent article in Tampa Bay Online by Yvette Hammett, linked here, dealing with new dorms going up at the University of South Florida. Other than my normal interest in the goings on at my alma mater was the construction methodology for the project. Tampa-based CBG Building Co., plans to use a system developed by Denver-based Prescient Co., Inc., where segments of the building are designed and pre-constructed off site and then shipped to the site for installation.  The dormitory project consists of a 6 story parking garage and a 6 story dormitory with 500 apartment style units.

A quote from the article notes that this type of construction may be expandable to different types of projects:

What makes this building system so different is this: “We don’t construct our building,” said Prescient CEO Satyen Patel. “We assemble it.” The process involves three companies — one for software development, one that heads up the manufacturing technology and one that installs the products on site, Patel said.

“We deliver a post, a panel and a truss. Those are the three finished goods that come out of our manufacturing system and get assembled on site. We can go taller than timber and substantially less expensive than concrete.”

Patel said the Florida market will be big for his company for several reasons: the projects work well for senior living facilities, Prescient serves the higher density market and its system works well for in fill construction because it doesn’t require a large staging area like traditional construction does, Patel said.

The original intent in going to this system was to meet an August 2016 completion date. It will be interesting to see the progress on this project and if that schedule is met.

The Atlantic hurricane season is defined as running from June 1 through November 30.  No one bothered to tell that to Tropical Storm Ana which hit South Carolina over the weekend.  The Ana had sustained winds of 45 mph at landfall and brought anywhere between 2″-6″ of rain depending on location.  The early start of the hurricane season does not mean that we will necessarily have more hurricanes or what the severity of those hurricanes will be.  However, it is always good to be prepared and plan ahead. The next few weeks will be important to finalize, or even start, our personal and business hurricane preparedness plans.  Even if you do not have one yet there is still time to prepare.

Below is a 12-point Hurricane Preparedness Checklist for condominium and homeowner associations to prepare for the 2015 hurricane season:

1. Disaster Plan – If you have a disaster plan be ready to implement it. At a minimum, designate a responsible community member as Disaster Plan Coordinator and another as Information Facilitator to field queries and respond to from community members. These individuals should be outside the impacted areas so that they can field and disseminate information.

2. Evacuation Routes – Establish clear building or community evacuation routes and be sure that all community members are provided with copies. It may be a good idea to conduct a building or community evacuation drills.

3. Emergency Generators & Supplies – Verify emergency generators are in working order and have adequate fuel supplies, stock a building or community emergency supplies storeroom with flashlights, batteries, water and other necessities for residents and employees in the aftermath.

4. Backup Computer Files – Be sure that computer files crucial to running the building and association, including the governing documents and original plans and specifications for the building, are backed up to CDs or Portable Storage Devices and keep a list of office computer hardware and software vendors and repairmen in case computers crash or systems fail.

5. Secure the Premises – Make preparations for routine lockdown of the building or other facilities so the building is secure during the storm and safe from vandalism or looting if a hurricane strikes.

6. List of Owners & Employees – Have on hand a current, hard-copy reference list complete with the names all property owners, emergency contact numbers and details of second residence addresses, as well as a list of all association employees, with full contact details.

7. Photograph or Video Premises – Keep a visual record through video or photographs of premises, facilities and buildings to facilitate damage assessment and speed damage claims in a storm aftermath.

8. Building and Facilities Plans – Make sure a complete set of building or community plans are readily available for consultation by first-responders, utilities workers and insurance adjusters following a storm.

9. Insurance Policies & Agent Details – It is too late to obtain new windstorm or flood insurance which would cover Hurricane Isaac, but secure copies of all current insurance policies along with contact details for insurance companies and agents.

10. Bank Account Details & Signatories – Keep handy a list of all bank account numbers, branch locations and authorized association signatories, and make contingency plans for back-up signatories in case evacuation or relocation becomes necessary.

11. Mitigation of Damages – In the immediate aftermath of a storm, take the necessary steps to mitigate damages — this includes “Drying- In,” which is the placement of tarps on openings in the roof and plywood over blown out doors and windows, and ” Drying –Out,” which is the removal of wet carpet and drywall to prevent the growth of mold.

12. Debris Removal – Have a plan for speedy removal of debris by maintenance staff, outside contractors or civic public works employees.

For more information, we have several pre-recorded webinars devoted to disaster planning, contracting and restoration of casualty damages. Please go to Becker & Poliakoff Webinars to view the webinars available for download.

In addition to the proposed legislation to substantially change Chapter 558, link here, the Legislature is considering other legislation that will materially impact owners and taxpayers.  HB501 proposes to reduce the time owners have to pursue construction defect claims from 10 after completion to 7 years after completion.  Specifically, the proposed legislation reduces the time frame within which a claim can be brought for latent defects (a defect you did not know about or had no reason to know about) in the design, planning or construction of improvements to real property from the current 10 years to 7 years.  This reduction of time to pursue claims apply to claims where the building code was violated.  Why should Florida provide less protection to owners when historically, and now again, the biggest building booms have been occurring in Florida.  Even the AIA Form Agreements, not always owner friendly, provide for a 10 year statute of repose. More time should be provided because significant defects cannot often be discovered earlier.

In the Firm’s practice some of the most frequent defects which evidence themselves more than 7 years after completion:

  • the failure to properly treat post tension cables in high rise projects. The ends are not capped or treated with grout and waterproofing;
  • improper concrete cover over reinforcing steel on balconies;
  • stucco delamination;
  • bursting condenser sensor water pipes behind walls that have seams or improper fitting that fail;
  • roof membranes improperly installed and leaking into structural deck and trusses causing structural damage;
  • roof tiles improperly fastened and not compliant with wind codes;
  • a roof that appears new yet it is discovered it covers and old existing roof and has not adhered;
  • window frames with a useful life in excess of 20 years fail in year 10 by pitting and blistering;
  • sink hole issues that all should be familiar with in Florida;
  • poorly compacted soil;
  • concrete that is of less than the required compressive strength starts to crumble impacting structural members;
  • columns and beams with insufficient steel that is not apparent until a failure occurs ;

The attempt to reduce the time frame for the Statute of Repose for latent defects affects owners in existing buildings as the clock is running on those buildings already.  It is important that every condominium owner realize that this bill is a further stripping away of the rights of condominium unit owners and deserves to be soundly defeated.  Repair of significant defects will be solely on the owners rather than the parties that created the defective situation. However, not only are condominiums impacted but public construction such as schools, hospitals, roadways and public facilities such as stadiums. If deficiencies exist where the statute has expired, the public will pay for the corrective work as opposed to those that created the condition through faulty workmanship and design. The burden to pay should be borne by those accountable for the issue.

Why in this climate is legislation helping shoddy construction being pushed?  The only beneficiaries are construction professionals that perform lousy work that can avoid liability for their poor performance by waiting out the clock. The bottom line is that it is the consumer and taxpayer that are impacted by this legislation designed to help contractors, design professionals, subcontractors and suppliers.

meyers_mMORRISTOWN, NJ, September 3, 2014 — Becker & Poliakoff has expanded its construction litigation practice in New Jersey with the addition of attorney Matthew Meyers to its Morristown office.

Mr. Meyers specializes in commercial litigation, with an emphasis on complex construction defects and real estate disputes. In such cases, he has recovered nearly $50 million in claims on behalf of New Jersey condominium associations in the last five years, including the successful settlement of a contentious waterfront controversy in Northern New Jersey.

Mr. Meyers has been recognized numerous times by Thompson Reuters’ SuperLawyers, which lists lawyers who have achieved a high degree of professional achievement. He was honored in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions with “Top Lawyers in New Jersey” in the area of construction litigation.

He also frequently lectures on construction defect litigation issues to various organizations, including the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, the Associations of Owners and Developers, the National Business Institute, and the Community Associations Institute – New Jersey Chapter.

“This is an exciting move for me,” said Mr. Meyers. “I was attracted to Becker by the firm’s depth of construction litigation talent and the additional resources available for these claims.  My new firm will not only enhance my practice but will elevate the level of services I provide to clients, which has always been my top priority. “

“Matthew brings a wealth of talent and experience to our expanding Community Association practice in New Jersey,” stated J. David Ramsey, director of Becker & Poliakoff’s New Jersey Community Association practice. “He is a proven talent with a track record of successfully representing claimants confronting potentially ruinous construction claims, a major issue for many of our community associations.  We now have added resources to further develop this practice.”

Becker & Poliakoff already boasts one of the nation’s most respected construction litigation teams, headed by Steven B. Lesser, who is also the Chair of the ABA Forum on the Construction Industry.   Mr. Lesser’s group has a reputation for excellence in residential and commercial construction matters, with a concentration on the representation of condominium associations in construction defect claims.

Mr. Lesser commented, “Matthew’s background and experience measures up to the rigorous standards we have set for our construction attorneys, and we intend to support the prosecution of these construction claims to the fullest extent possible.  Matthew’s addition to the team is a part of our plan to expand the construction practice regionally while maintaining the high level of expertise and service our clients have enjoyed for over 40 years.”

Mr. Meyers is a graduate of Rutgers University where he received his B.A. in Economics.  He received his J.D. from the New York School of Law and is admitted to practice before and is a member of the New Jersey Bar.

About Becker & Poliakoff

Becker & Poliakoff is a diverse commercial law firm with more than 170 attorneys, lobbyists and other professionals in 20 domestic and international offices. The firm has eight primary areas of practice: Real Estate, Construction Law and Litigation, Community Association, Customs and International Trade, Business Litigation, Corporate & Securities, Government Law and Lobbying, and the Intellectual Property & Emerging Technologies practice. For more about the firm, visit: www.bplegal.com or www.bplegal.com/blogs.aspx to access forums on the latest ideas and opinions on legal matters hosted by Becker & Poliakoff attorneys.

A new report says the green building market in the U.S. is gaining traction and projects greater growth ahead.  McGraw-Hill Construction’s 2013 Dodge Construction Green Outlook report finds green building represented 44 percent of all commercial and institutional sector construction last year, and will grow to 55 percent by 2016.  The report expects that the total green building market will be worth between $98 billion and $106 billion this year, growing to about $248 billion by 2016.

Green building is also becoming more popular in the home sector.  Residential green building is projected to represent about 25 percent of the market in 2013, which is worth approximately $34 billion to $38 billion, and growing to up to $116 billion by 2016.

 

Within this growth, some industry experts expect that the focus will shift from the construction and design of new buildings to the renovation of existing buildings to make them "greener".  In fact, a growing number of cities are installing or are preparing to install new green building mandates, primarily in the commercial sector. 

 

These projects should mean more opportunities for contractors and design professionals who know how to build green, and should also lead to healthier and more sustainable environments for all of us.

 

According to a New York Times article, builders are on track this year to start work on the largest number of homes in four years. Builder confidence rose in December to a seventh straight month to the highest level in more than 6 ½ years, with the pace of home construction nearly 22% higher than this time last year.

                            

Because of rising sales combined with a decline in the supply of available homes, home prices had their largest year-over-year increase in 2 ½ years. Even more impressive is the benchmark from 2 ½ years ago against which this is measured is when the home buyer tax credit provided an artificial impetus to increased sales. Therefore, when compared against normal market forces, current home sales and consequent home construction is better than it’s been in many years.

 

Those of you in residential construction are already likely seeing at least a modest improvement in work loads. Those of you in commercial construction have reported increased work as well. We’re certainly nowhere near the levels we enjoyed six years ago, but the prospects for at least a slow and steady improvement in construction look good. As long as Washington doesn’t foul things up by discouraging business plans through tax increases and excessive spending cuts.

The Florida construction industry lost a major pioneer this past Tuesday with the unfortunate passing of James Pirtle, Sr., founder of one of our most respected general contracting firms, Pirtle Construction.  As referenced in the Sun-Sentinel article, Pirtle Construction built several hundred Florida projects under his watch, including some of the most important and iconic buildings around.  The company will continue under the qualified direction of Mike Geary, who has been running affairs there for several years, so no doubt the company remains in good hands.  Nevertheless, I am saddened by the loss and send fond wishes to the good folks at Pirtle during this difficult time.   

 After several long years of a battered construction economy in Florida, most contractors with whom I’ve spoken recently have expressed improvement in their work loads and some have even developed that long sought after backlog. A recent report supports those positive sentiments. In a report by BidClerk, it was announced that construction in Florida major-metro markets increased 9.6% from last year in a year-over-year analysis. BidClerk found private construction bidding increased 19% from this time last year, whereas public construction bidding increased only 4.3%. The public construction numbers aren’t as discouraging as they may appear at first blush because of the current trend towards public/private partnerships (“P3s”). Public construction is predictably down because of the lack of public funds, but private enterprise is coming to the rescue in the push towards P3s. The shift from traditional public delivery methods to a new, thus far unfamiliar model takes time. But it is clearly underway, as you can tell from my previous posts on this topic, and it is just a matter of time before public construction increases using the P3 model. Therefore, BidClerk’s report bodes very well for both private and public sectors of construction. It’s time to dust off that rolodex and start hitting the streets. The work is there for the taking and I suspect things are only going to get better from here.