Category: Construction Defects

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Alter Ego: The $5MM personal danger of neglecting corporate formalities and utilizing substandard building materials

Many building developers utilize a single purpose entity limited liability company (an “LLC”) to purchase and develop property, such as an apartment complex, a subdivision, or a shopping center. Generally, an LLC’s debts, whether incurred or judicially imposed, belong only to the LLC, not to its members.  However, an LLC’s individual member may be subject … Continue Reading

Under California’s Right to Repair Act, Ignore Deadlines at Your Own Peril

In a very recent decision, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Blanchette v. Superior Court affirmed the plain language of the Home Builder’s Right to Repair Act, holding that even a facially insufficient notice of defect triggers the obligation of a builder to respond within 14 days.  The statute, Civil Code section 895 et. … Continue Reading

One Unanticipated Cost of Being an Owner-Builder in California: Liability for Retained Control over Safety

Many times I hear from people who want to “save money” and serve as their own “owner-builder” under the exemption to the California Contractor’s Licensing law, which generally requires that any “construction” work over $500 to be performed by a licensed California contractor in the absence of an exemption.  (Bus. & Prof. Code section 7048).  … Continue Reading

Self-Imposed ADA Audits: The Developer’s Best Option

Recent rulings indicate that courts across the country view project owners’ and developers’ liability for ADA claims differently than they do other compliance violations.  Owners’ attempts to raise questions of contractor negligence, breach of contract or breach of warranty are being rejected.  So what can a project owner do? In my recent article for the … Continue Reading

“All Risk” Coverage Is Not Equal to “All Loss” Coverage Under Customary Provisions in California Builder’s Risk Policies

A common insurance question asked by our owner/developer clients when they discover that their completed project has defects is whether their own insurance will cover the cost to fix the defect or any damage from the defect.  While trying hard not to sound like the proverbial lawyer, we often have to say “it depends.”  What … Continue Reading

Architect Off the Hook for ADA Defects

Continuing a disturbing trend, another recent case finds that an architect is not liable for a design that failed to comply with the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RA). In Chicago Housing Authority v. DeStefano & Partners, Ltd. (here), an Illinois appellate court followed several other federal and state decisions in holding … Continue Reading

On Guard: A Look at Subcontractor Default Insurance

Whether you call it SDI or SubGuard, subcontractor default insurance is yet another consideration for public and private project owners as they look at protection from subcontractor default.  But what exactly is this relatively new option and when is it most appropriate?  In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss SDI, … Continue Reading

KIRO 7 Interviews Joe McCarthy on Pitfalls of Washington Condo Act – Developers Beware!

Joseph McCarthy, a real estate attorney in Stoel Rives’ Seattle office, was recently interviewed by television station KIRO 7 in Seattle for a segment titled “Law meant to protect Wash. homeowners instead pushing up condo prices.” The piece discusses how the consumer warranties contained in the Washington Condominium Act, found at Chapter 64.34 RCW, fostered … Continue Reading

No Crane Trespassing! Swingway Easements Make Good Neighbors

Earlier this year, my colleague Eric Grasberger authored a blog post about a crane collapse in Lower Manhattan.  In that post, he mentioned that neighboring landowners may seek to prevent cranes from intruding into the airspace above their property.  Contractors and owners alike are often surprised to learn that a crane swinging over adjacent property … Continue Reading

A New Wrinkle In Time To Claim Construction Defects

Oregon’s law on statutes of limitation and/or repose periods on construction claims is complex and ever-changing.  A recent Oregon Supreme Court ruling has introduced yet another instance of differing time limits on construction defect claims. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss Schell v. The Schollander Companies, Inc. and the … Continue Reading

Think all Oregon construction defect claims are governed by the same 10-year statute of repose? Think again.

In Shell v. Schollander Companies, Inc., the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed a line of appellate decisions distinguishing between defect claims arising out of construction performed for an owner and defect claims arising out of an owner’s purchase of an existing structure.  In Schollander, the homeowner sought recovery for defects in the construction of a spec … Continue Reading

NYC Crane Collapse Likely to Fuel Crane Objections and Easements

On Friday, February 5, one man died and three were injured when a 565-foot crane toppled in gusty winds in lower Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center. The investigation will likely take weeks to months as experts try to reconstruct whether the engineering, erection, operation or manufacture of the crane, or some combination … Continue Reading

Take Care in Reaching for Deep Pockets: Don’t Let Insurance Companies Off the Hook When Drafting Settlement Agreements in Construction Defect Cases

It will happen to almost every contractor at some point — an owner or project developer will try to sue you.  Hopefully your insurer agrees you are covered, and you’ve dodged a bullet. But if your insurer tells you that you are not covered, things get sticky.  One common strategy is for the parties to … Continue Reading

Protections Against Subcontractor Defaults

Subcontractor default is a construction project nightmare that can result in significant additional costs and delay completion of the project. But there are two chief options to protect against such risks — performance bonds and subcontractor default insurance.  In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I outline the unique characteristics of each … Continue Reading

Five Questions an Owner Should Ask About Insurance and Bonds

Contractors often have limited liquid assets, so insurance and bonding are often the best resources available to an owner to protect against contractor default or defective work. However, not all policies and bonds are created equal, and owners should make sure these resources provide the security the owner needs. In my recent article for the … Continue Reading

Finishing Strong vs. Finishing Wrong: Tips & Traps for Project Completion

Complex construction projects carry complex problems as they approach completion. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I address 10 potential pitfalls that owners, contractors and design professionals may encounter, and I offer tips to help you prepare for them. Read the full article here. “Finishing Strong vs. Finishing Wrong: Tips & … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court’s Decision: Plaintiff’s Tort Claims Accrued on Substantial Completion and were Time-Barred

In my recent article, “Provision Providing for Early Accrual of Statute of Limitations Held Inapplicable,” I discuss the Oregon Supreme Court’s reversal of a trial court’s decision that, by the terms of the parties’ contract, plaintiff’s tort claims accrued on the date of substantial completion and were time-barred. Read the full article, here. “Provision Providing … Continue Reading

Multi-Family Sellers Beware: Don’t “Alienate” Your Project from Insurance Coverage for Construction Defects

The apartment business is booming right now. Unfortunately, construction defects persist as well, particularly in garden-style and wood-framed construction. Most developers are savvy enough to maintain a good insurance program, but many do not understand (until too late) that the policies they bought may not cover the risk of construction defects.  As an owner-developer, neither your property … Continue Reading

Bah Humbug: California Supreme Court Won’t Hear Dispute Arising From Overbroad SB800 Decision

You may have recently heard that on December 11, 2013, the California Supreme Court denied the builder’s Petition for Review of the published decision in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Brookfield Crystal Cove LLC, 163 Cal. Rptr. 3d 600, Cal. App. 4th 98 (2013). For builders and contractors, this is very frustrating news and undermines the … Continue Reading

The Vexing Date of Substantial Completion: Oregon Supreme Court to Consider Two Cases Addressing When Statutes of Limitation and Ultimate Repose Begin to Run

The Oregon Supreme Court will review two recent Court of Appeals decisions related to statutes of limitation and repose on construction projects. In the first case, Sunset Presbyterian Church v. Brockamp & Jaeger, Inc., the Oregon Supreme Court will address the following questions: (1) When the construction contract includes an accrual provision, is the statute … Continue Reading

Four Stoel Rives Partners to Speak at the 18th Annual Oregon Construction Law Seminar

On September 26 and 27, 2013, The Seminar Group will present its 18th Annual Oregon Construction Law seminar in Portland, Oregon. I will be speaking about Integrated Project Delivery, which is an emerging project delivery method emphasizing collaboration among project participants. Three of my partners also will be presenting: Guy Randles, program co-chair, will speak … Continue Reading

Beware the Economic Loss Trap in Construction Disputes

The Oregon Court of Appeals recently applied the so-called “economic loss rule” to a construction dispute (Marton v. Ater Construction Co., 256 Or App 554, __ P3d __ (2013)). Among other issues, the court decided whether the prime contractor’s negligence claim against its subcontractor was barred under the economic loss rule. Under the court-made economic … Continue Reading

Sophisticated Parties? You May Shorten Both the Start and Length of the Statute of Limitations in CA Commercial Construction Contracts

Can parties waive both the commencement and length of the statutory limitation periods for construction defect actions?  Yes, answered the Fourth Appellate District, by allowing the parties to contractually preclude the application of the “delayed discovery” rule that normally triggers the commencement of the limitation time period and affirming case law permitting the shortening of … Continue Reading
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