1. Review your contract
We are always surprised at how one sided most general contractors’ contracts are. From illegal provisions (like pay when paid) to onerous provisions (like no compensation for change orders unless provided in writing and approved by the owner), general contractors provide virtually no protection to subcontractors but provide as much leeway against paying you for delays and change orders as possible. Let us review your contract before you sign. This is especially true in public works projects where your protected by being the winning bid. You don’t have to kowtow to the general in these circumstances.
2. Plan ahead to guarantee payment
Whether you’re on a public works job, or a private works with a construction lender, or a private works with an owner developer, let us assist you with protecting your right to payment. We will schedule all dates for you so there are no surprises.
3. Memorialize your change orders
Call us to identify the problem so we can ghost write your change order which you will then submit.
4. Prelitigation saber rattling
Let’s face it. Construction personnel can be prickly. Some PMs know that they can bowl over underprepared, or overly busy subcontractors, and will not shrink from doing so. These types like to stir up problems and often times are being paid a bonus to save money. It is unfortunate, but factual, that you need to go over their head. Sometimes a letter from counsel is the only thing that will get the attention of the decision makers.
The vast majority of cases the GLF handles start here. It is unfortunate because by this time protection of rights has long since past. Often, the time period for stop notices, lien foreclosures, and bond claims have long past. Instead, all that is left is a breach of contract case which is unfortunate. When a third party can be pursued, like a municipality with a stop notice, or the owner in the case of the lien foreclosure or a surety in the case of the bond claim, resolution is SO much easier.
6. Defend CSLB accusations
The GLF has an entire page devoted to these cases which we urge you to read.
7. Resolve errors and omissions
It is a fact of life that mistakes are made in the field. If the mistakes cause damage to another contractor’s work, or to the owner’s property, your insurance may provide coverage and a claim should be made. However, most insurance policies do gymnastics to avoid coverage which then means the lawyers have to get involved. When there is coverage, the insurance company will hire one of its “panel counsel” or an “in-house counsel” who work for pre-set reduced prices or are employees of the insurance company. When coverage is disputed, often times the insurer will hire counsel to defend the insured, but reserve its right to deny coverage on the actual indemnity. You are entitled to retain your own attorney to monitor the insurance company and “your” insurance attorney.
8. Negotiate soft landings
Mr. Gwynn has over 20 years handling bankruptcies and is well aware of the therapeutic nature of bankruptcies. Bankruptcies offer a fresh start for contractors. Sometimes, the mere possibility of a filing can resolve a debt. You owe it to yourself to consider all lawful options.