As they say in golf, you can’t win the tournament on the first day, but you certainly can lose it — the same goes for construction. You certainly can’t guarantee yourself a profitable job at the outset, but you can set yourself up to not have a profitable project. Unfortunately, particularly in lean times, contractors and subcontractors are in such a hurry to put their employees to work that they do not devote the necessary time and effort to negotiating key contract terms or to clearly and thoroughly crafting the scope of work.
Pre-construction, unlike latter stages of the project, is that time when the project stakeholders are freely communicating (usually without tension) with a common goal in mind — get the project moving forward. That is the time to wrestle with the contract terms, particularly the payment provisions, and get that scope of work clearly defined. Many stakeholders see this added pre-construction negotiation as a roadblock to the ultimate commencement of the project, and that it is. However, even an extra week spent negotiating contract terms, especially considering that arbitration or litigation could last years, is really not such a big deal.
And the farther down the contracting chain you are, the more attention you should likely devote to the contract. More often than not, the subcontract will contain a “flow-down clause” that will, in essence, cause the subcontractor to agree to all terms and conditions of its subcontract, plus the terms and conditions of the prime contract. But, unfortunately for many subcontractors, they do not even request a copy of the prime contract. Instead, they blindly sign the subcontract and thereby agree, through incorporation by reference, to the terms and conditions of the prime contract. For instance, you may be agreeing to be paid only if the prime contractor is paid and not even realize it. This can have costly and long-term consequences, and may even put you out of business. Simply put, pre-construction attention to contractual terms and conditions cannot be over emphasized.
Let Jacob Hill protect your interests by putting his experience and common sense to work for your. Clarity and precision are essential. Jacob endeavors to identify and manage risk and clearly define the scope of work and payment terms on the front end so that, hopefully, you will get paid promptly. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of the Court to fill in the gaps and resolve conflicts. Our focus is on dispute avoidance, and having your company’s risk minimized in the event of a dispute.
After all, construction projects have enough unknowns. Why should the interpretation of your contract also be an unknown? Your contract terms and scope of work should not be one of those. If, at the end of the project, you have not been paid, at least you will have a clearly defined contract upon which to assert claims.
Jacob W. Hill, LLC | P.O. Box 680430 | Fort Payne, AL 35968 | Phone: (256) 996-5586 | Email:
No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.