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Construction Law Authority / Posts tagged "design"

What Owners Need To Know About Florida Statute §558.0035

Effective July 1, 2013, Florida Statutes Chapter 558 was amended to provide a “safe harbor” to individual design professionals for claims of negligence. Specifically, Florida Statutes §558.0035 states that any design professional “who is employed by a business entity or is an agent of a business entity is not individually liable for damages resulting from negligence occurring within the course and scope of a professional services contract.” Florida Statute §558.0035 also expands the definition of “design professionals” to include geologists in addition to architects, interior designers, landscape architects, engineers and surveyors. These changes are limited to individual design professionals only, not business entities, and the statute covers only economic damages. The new law does not limit claims for personal injury or property damage. It is also worth noting that §558.0035 will not limit professional negligence claims by parties who have no contract with an individual design professional and/or his or her...

Are You A Design-Build Firm?

Based upon weekly bid reports, the trend in Florida continues to emphasize design-build requests for proposals ("RFP") for public works projects. Public agencies view the design-build model as a means to streamline the procurement process as well as an opportunity to contract with one firm which has the responsibility for both the design and construction of a project....

A Condominium Association’s Guide to Construction Defects Claim Documentation

During the early stages of investigating and asserting a claim for construction or design defects, condominium associations and individual unit owners are often asked by their attorneys to produce documents relevant to their potential claims. The following is an illustrative, and by no means exhaustive, listing of the types of documents condominium associations or unit owners should have on hand to assist their attorney in initiating a construction or design defects claim:   All recorded Governing Documents, Declarations of Condominium, Master Covenants and the like, including any Amendments to same; Developer’s Prospectus or Offering Circular; Developer’s sales and promotional materials describing the property; All documents evidencing the date of Turnover from a Developer-controlled Board to an elected Board of Directors controlled by a majority of unit owners. For example, this could include: ·        Meeting minutes containing the...

Design Professional Liability Legislation (Again)

For the third year in a row, the state legislature has introduced legislation to protect architects, engineers and other design professionals from claims for negligence in the performance of their professional services. In 2010 a bill passed both legislative houses but was vetoed by Governor Crist. Last year the bill did not get as far, but apparently proponents of the bill believe the third time may be the charm. Unfortunately, as in prior years this legislation is anti-consumer. Senate Bill 286, linked here, would provide that architects or engineers would no longer be personally liable for negligence arising out of their professional services. This would essentially limit people hiring these design professionals to breach of contract claims against the design professional’s business entity. This is a problem because most design contracts limit the design professional’s liability to some paltry amount that pales in comparison to the harm that comes from defective design. The steps that the...

Construction Contracting for the Owner – Types of contracts

There are several types of contracts which are used in between owners and contractors. The primary ones are lump sum contracts, unit price contracts, time and materials, construction manager and design-build.

Lump Sum:

A lump sum contract is the most basic agreement between a contractor and owner. The contractor agrees to provide specified services for a specific price. The owner agrees to pay the price upon completion of the work or according to an agreed payment schedule. T lump sum includes the costs of labor and materials and the contractor’s overhead and profit. The benefits of a lump sum contract for the owner are primarily that the costs are known at the outset of the project and the contractor has the risk if additional materials or time is needed.

Unit Price:

In a unit price contract a fixed price is established for each unit of work. A common example for condominium associations is a unit price for cubic feet of concrete repair on a balcony renovation project. This is useful as the price is set for the that unit of work.  Like a lump sum contract, the contractor is paid an agreed upon price, regardless of the actual cost to do the work. Unlike a lump sum contract the agreed upon price is usually for a small component of the work and not the entire project so the final cost may not be known at outset since the contract quantities at bid time are only estimates. Any contract for cost plus should require the contractor to keep careful records so as to be able to show quantities.

Time and Materials:

In a time and materials contract the contractor charges an hourly rate for labor, and there can be a certain percentage added to the materials and labor for profit. The perceived benefit for the owner is that they are not paying for any fluff that a contractor may build into the lump sum, and contractors are ensured that they will a fair profit. However, this contract shifts the price risks completely from the contractor to the owner. In the absence of checks and balances for the types of materials used and the actual time spent, including a guaranteed maximum price the owner could be giving the contractor a blank check.

Construction Contracting for the Owner: The Owner – Design Professional Relationship

Once the owner has decided to undertake a project they generally retain the services of a design professional. The design professional is the engineer or architect hired by the owner to be used at various points throughout the project. General discussions between the owner and design professional should include the owner’s expectations of the projects, budgets, specific materials which need to be used or special considerations about the project. In both renovations and new construction these discussions would also include aesthetic considerations.  Although all these discussions may happen, the scope of the design professional’s relationship with the owner is that which is spelled out in the contract between the owner and design professionals. An owner in retaining the design professional needs to define his expectations of the design professional, and those expectations should be reduced to a written contract. As an owner, if you want the design professional to provide contract administration then you must ask...

Construction Contracting for the Owner – Parties to a Construction Project

  This is part 1 of our series on Construction Contracting for the owner.  Once you have decided to begin a construction project, whether this project is a reroof, concrete restoration, painting, repaving or anything else, there are generally 3 main groups involved. The first of these groups is the owner. The owner is the person or entity on whose behalf the work is being done. The types of owners range from an individual, development entity, hotel, condominium association, homeowner's association or a governmental agency.  Although the owner may be using a bank to finance the construction, the owner is the party generally responsible for ensuring payment to the other 2 groups. The second group is generally the design professionals. This group consists of the engineer or architect hired by the owner to prepare any drawings or specifications for the work to be done.  In larger projects, the owner may contract with an Architect who then hires various subconsultants (geotechnical engineer, structural...