On behalf of Walker & Reed, P.C. posted in their blog on Monday, June 3, 2019.
When representing a General Contractor or property owner, the relationships are as important as the contract. The relationships between attorney and client, between General Contractor and Owner, between Architect and General Contractor and Owner, between General Contractor and Subcontractors, and between attorneys are all important and can either make or break the project. Everyone has to want to get the project started and no one can let egos get in the way.
The General Contractor and the Owner will spend hours together working on every detail to make sure the estate project is just what the owner wants. Both Owner and General Contractor need to make sure the relationship is a good fit and that each party trusts each other. Make sure each side does their research. Don’t pick a General Contractor because they have a good logo or because they say they built a large house. Pick a Contractor that has a proven record, and happy satisfied clients who believe they are part of the family (as they should be). Contractors, don’t accept a job from an Owner without finding out who they are. A successful project only happens when the General Contractor and the Owner are a good fit.
We (attorneys) write words on many pieces of paper (can be upwards of a hundred) with hopes that no one ever needs to review the contract; that the project is built and everyone loves the end product. The contract never came out of the drawer.
That being said Contractor and Owners should chose attorneys who have also worked on similar size construction contracts. When representing a Contractor the attorney needs to understand how the Contractor does business, not how the attorney thinks the contractor should operate.
Same with attorneys representing Owners. Unless the Owners is a sophisticated developer, the construction of a legacy estate is extremely complicated and the amount of paperwork will be overwhelming. Make sure that the Contractor provides all invoices, timesheets, and all backups for billing. Make sure lien releases are obtained and make sure a complete set of documents are retained for a long time.
A fair contract should state the Contractor is obligated to use its best efforts to build a high quality project in a timely manner (subject to things beyond the Contractor’s control). Beware of a Contractor not willing to make this statement part of their contract. Owners, remember that what looks good on paper may not be what you like and that Change Orders and delays in providing necessary information to a Contractor can and will push timelines. Building an estate project is a long term commitment so make sure it is a good fit.
Finally, my clients are a joy to work with and I know for a fact that their Contractors like them as much as I like them. The Contractors are prompt, do high quality luxury work, are caring, and build legacy estates about twice as fast as other contractors. It was a team effort to get an eight figure construction contract finalized and signed.