I read this article in one of our local magazine’s that is geared to kids and sports. I was so impressed by the wisdom in it, that I asked the author if I could share it. It resonated with my new construction background. Brad gives really good advice on how to protect yourself and your property when constructing or remodeling.
By Brad Weiss of Benson, Mucci & Weiss, PL
Whether it’s healthier eating, more exercise, or putting in more hours at the office, the New Year is an opportunity to start fresh and do things right. In our business, we often meet with community residents whose New Year’s resolutions are to update an old will, buy or sell their property, or construct a new addition or remodel their home.
Those familiar with our law practice know that we focus on real estate, corporate matters, wills and the like, but few are aware that Benson, Mucci & Weiss, PL has a strong emphasis in construction law, representing a wide array of general contractors, subcontractors in different specialty trades, and suppliers of construction materials. Too often we are contacted by residents who are involved in disputes with a contractor they’ve hired to perform work on their home. Many of these disputes would have been avoided with some simple advice. Before you begin that new patio enclosure, or start to remodel your kitchen or bathrooms, keep this information in mind and keep yourself out of court.
First, hire a licensed contractor. People often make the mistake of trying to cut corners to save a few bucks, and hire someone who isn’t properly qualified. Some contractors will try to convince you that a license isn’t necessary for the work they are doing, and may persuade you to avoid obtaining the proper permits. While you might save some money and time this way, it could be illegal. The consequences of hiring an unlicensed contractor where a license is required, or failing to obtain necessary permits, is often much more costly, and could require the work to be torn down and replaced. It is easy to check if the work requires a licensed contractor.
Next, before you sign a contract and commit to spending thousands of dollars, meet with an attorney who is familiar with construction to discuss and review the contract to ensure your rights are protected, that the proper warnings and provisions are included, and to advise you of provisions that could become a concern during the course of construction. It’s not that expensive relative to the amount you’re committing to the work, and could save you from a nightmare situation.
Third, make sure you get lien waivers/releases from your contractor and each subcontractor or supplier your contractor owes money to every time you make a payment to your contractor. You may receive a document in the mail called a Notice to Owner from subcontractors or suppliers hired by your contractor. This document gives subcontractors and suppliers certain rights to record liens against your property if it is served properly and timely, and contains important warnings that must be read and understood. Too often, we receive calls from residents who paid their contractor everything that was owed, but wound up having liens against their property because they failed to read the information in the Notice to Owner, and didn’t get lien releases from the subcontractor or supplier who served the Notice. It’s possible you’ll have to pay twice for the same improvement if that happens.
Florida’s lien law is complex, and so are laws governing contractors. This article should not be substituted for the advice of an attorney, and describes a few common issues we see too often. As one famous electrician, Benjamin Franklin, once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Brad R. Weiss, Esq.|BENSON, MUCCI & WEISS PL
Florida Bar Board Certified Construction Lawyer
5561 University Drive, Suite 102
Coral Springs FL 33067
Phone 954.323.1023| Fax 954.323.1013