Litigation in Construction II: Alternatives to Suing Someone

Welcome back to our blog! (Because you’ve been reading regularly, we hope!) Last week, we discussed issues that often lead to misunderstanding within the construction industry. The items are meant to be as a guideline of things to keep in mind before entering into a construction contract. That said, they are not meant to substitute legal counsel. So don’t be cheap and get a lawyer if you need one.

Today, we’re discussing alternatives to litigation. The reason these are so important is that (a) they’ll save you money, and (b) they have a better chance of preserving relationships with other vendors within the industry. At the end of the day, you never know what’s around the bend, and you might have to deal with some of these people again in the future.

Alternatives to litigation:

Pay close attention to that contract.

We’ve mentioned the contract a lot, have you noticed? This is for a reason. So often, people will only skim the pages, or straight out sign without reading. It doesn’t matter what Joe told you. If you end up in Court, what matters is what’s on the contract.

Also, you want to make sure there are no inconsistencies. For example, if Clause Number 5 refers to Addendum A, and Addendum A contains contradictory information that what’s on reflected on Clause Number 5, which one are you bound to if there’s a dispute? You can’t afford to chance it. Iron out all inconsistencies before you sign that line.

Alternate Dispute Resolution.

You could always include a provision that in the event of a dispute, all parties involved to go mediation or arbitration instead of Court. Why? It’ll probably cost less and in the case of mediation, you’ll actually have a professional trying to steer the conversation into reaching a resolution. However, make sure you pay attention to who’ll have to pay for this. Are you guys splitting all costs 50/50, or is the person raising a concern responsible for all costs?

Whether the issue is regarding payment, a failure to perform, or construction defect, the only winners in construction litigation are the attorneys. So think about it: even if you have the money to battle it out in court only on principle, would you rather send your kids to college or send your attorney’s kids to college? Because that’s the only real good that will come out of this.

You know what else is an alternative to litigation? Hiring us. I mean, there are no guarantees in this world, but at least we have the experience and expertise to back up our claims that we’ll get things done right. Contact us, and let’s talk.


How To Plan for Site Emergencies


So you finally made up your mind about getting started on your construction or renovation project. You hired a contractor, have a great project manager, and everything’s running smoothly… until there’s an accident or some sort of emergency right on your work site. Do you have a contingency plan to deal with it?

From natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods (which are pretty common in our beautiful Florida), to immature behavior like violence in the workplace (let’s be careful in hiring the right workers, please), an emergency can throw your project off course. Regardless, no matter how careful you may be, unforeseen issues may come up, so you might as well have a contingency plan to deal with them.

So what can you do to make things run as smoothly as possible (and diminish your legal liability while at it)?

  1. Have adequate insurance: Contractor liability, general liability insurance, bid bonds, Worker’s Compensation, flood insurance… The list is long, and it’s crucial for you to understand what each of them is for, so that in the event that someone gets hurt while on premises, or a hurricane destroys what you’ve already built, you are adequately covered. Study each policy carefully; and if some of the terms go over your head, ask for clarifications from your broker and/or attorneys, and get everything in writing. 
  1. Designate an A Team: Who’s in charge of contacting emergency personnel and all of those insurance companies mentioned above? When disaster happens, there’s no time for everyone to scramble, trying to figure out who’s in charge of what. Designate who’s getting each task done beforehand, and have all of those contact phone numbers and email addresses handy (everyone should have them saved in their number, or at the very least, easily retrievable from their email inbox). And don’t just tell them what they need to do. Train them properly.
  1. Have a plan: Everyone on your team needs to know where your alarms, fire extinguishers and first aid kids are. Everyone needs to know what are the evacuation routes. Everyone needs to know who to contact if there’s a natural disaster that prevents them to report for duty or to ask about when it’s safe to come back to work after a site has been damaged. 
  1. Make sure everyone’s accounted for: Always have a log of who’s working where, and designate someone who will do a head count after an evacuation. If someone’s missing, refer to that log and either go back for the missing person if it’s safe to do so, or let first responders know.

At Eclipse Building Corp., we make sure that your project is done on time, on budget, and minimize your liability by prioritizing our workers’ and contractors’ safety. If you’re planning on renovating or building from scratch, contact us. We’ll do things by the book for you.



Should You Have a Contingency Budget?


Have you ever planned a family vacation, only to realize midway through that your credit card bill will go through the roof this month? Have you ever bought a pre-owned car, only to realize that it needs so much maintenance and so many replacement parts, you would’ve been better off getting a new one?

It happens. You plan, you save, the unexpected comes up. And while it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that something similar could happen in construction, how do you know how much you should be setting a side as part of a contingency budget? And if you plan everything well, do you really need one?

How much to set aside?

         The amount that you should set aside for it will depend on the type of project and the likelihood of foreseeable risks occurring. The higher the risk, the higher the budget. There are several things you can do to avoid risks: Have great insurance. Have a business attorney review your contracts (for example, you want to have indemnification clauses in there in case someone sues you because of something a subcontractor or someone else did). Comply with codes and regulations, so that a cinder block is not falling on someone’s head.

All this said, regardless of how careful you are, there will still be things that pop up unexpectedly, and if you have money set aside to deal with it, you project will move along smoothly.

If I plan things well, do I really need one?

         Ok. Let’s say you planned everything down to the last brick you’ll need. You hired a reputable construction company, have a stellar project manager, and even an Owner’s Representative. How could anything go wrong, right? Then you get a hurricane watch, that not only delays your project, but when it actually hits your town, it damages portions of what has already been completed. Did you plan for that? What if everything gets flooded after one of the many typical thunderstorms we get during the summer in Tampa? What if you have several injured workers and your Worker Comp’s insurance rates go up? I could continue adding items to the list of things that are hard to plan for, but you get the picture.

The best way to plan for the known and for a list of potential variables is to hire an experienced construction company that has been around the block long enough to know how to deal with unexpected plot twists.

Eclipse Building Corp. can help you plan your construction or renovation with realistic expectations. We can also deal with all of the pre-construction issues such as planning and permitting, and post construction aspects, such as maintenance and warranties. Give us a call and let’s talk about your project. We will get you from A to Z beautifully, and on budget.


Tampa’s New Baby: Water Street

If you’ve driven on the 275 in the past year, you’ve likely noticed the black billboards with simple words in white: Water Street Tampa. Depending on your type of personality, you might barely notice them. Or you might see them, wonder what they are, and keep driving. Or you might be the most awesome kind of the bunch: When you got home, you looked it up online.

If you’re in that last group, surely you’ve seen the amazingness that awaits downtown. It’s not just that they’re constructing a new office building (where’s the fun in that? There are already so many). We’re talking about an entire mixed use complex that in addition to office space, will feature luxury hotels, apartment rentals, condos for sale, and even a portion of USF. It’s like a city within a city; but even better, because there are already so many restaurants, museums, libraries, and things to do downtown, that who’ll need a car?

What this means for the city of Tampa

         As discussed in our blog about the TPA airport expansion, new construction signifies a boom in the economy. And at the very heart of it all, as usual, is the construction industry. Think about the domino effect (the good kind) that a project like this one entails: the massive amounts of jobs for people working within the project: construction workers, all type of contractors, engineers, and architects. All the people who lease office space and/or rent or buy a home will have to eat somewhere: Hello, restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, bars, and farmers markets! Same goes for entertainment: All these people will still want to go to festivals, movie theaters, plays… No matter how you look at it, a project of this scale can only mean one thing: the construction industry goes hand in hand with a healthy economy.

Ok. So we’ll have a bigger international airport and a massive revitalization of our downtown area. This only means one thing: Tampa is booming. If there ever was a time to get started on that construction or renovation project you’ve been thinking about, it is now.

At Eclipse Building Corp. we’d be ecstatic to guide you through the entire process. Contact us and let’s talk about what you have in mind. Strike while that iron is hot.


The Importance of Paying Your Contractor On Time


Raise your hand if you think you’re too busy. There are so many things on your plate: Taking your kids to school, attending meetings and doctor’s appointments, running your business, buying groceries, making time for your family. We get it. We all have long To Do lists, and it’s normal to forget a thing here or there. But you know what you should always have as a priority? Paying your contractor on time.

Busting Construction Myths

You may think that just because you made a large payment prior to starting the project, that check will tide everyone over until you get around to making the next scheduled payment. But let’s look at things closely: Whether you’re building something from scratch or renovating your business, there will be plenty of people involved in the project: Architects, engineers, project managers, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, landscapers… All of them have to get paid. In addition, there are materials and administration costs.

Your contract established a payment schedule for a reason, and once you sign that agreement, it’s set in stone and you are legally bound by it. Think about it: would you continue doing business with a client who continuously fails to pay you on time? Would you find that type of behavior acceptable only because they paid you once or twice in the past? Bills don’t get paid with goodwill; and everyone’s got them.

Legal Ramifications

         You may be working with someone who’s done business with you in the past and who may give you some leeway if you make a late payment. But not honoring your payment agreement is not only the easiest way to burn bridges, but it will also cost you extra in the long run: If your contractor takes you to court, and they can prove that you owe them the money, you’ll likely have to reimburse your contractor for the cost of the lawsuit, service of process, and maybe even attorney’s fees. Potential clients will be able to read about the lawsuit when they do a Google search about your business. You might get a dent on your reputation within the construction industry… and good luck finding someone to work with you in the future without requiring an unusually large sum upfront.

So be responsible and keep those bridges intact. After all, if  you want your business to look good, you need construction workers to get the job done.


How To Avoid Construction Fraud

Few things are more exciting than getting started on a project you’ve been dreaming about for a long time. You start thinking about remodeling, you come up with a concept, and talk about it repeatedly to people who are closest to you. So you decide to bite the bullet and get it done. But then you read stories about people who hired contractors for a construction job, only to get stiffed.

What can you do to prevent that from happening to you?

  1. Do your research: I know, I know. We’re all busy. But unless you hire an Owner’s Representative to take the helm for you, you’re going to have to do your due diligence in finding reputable contractors. Make sure they’re properly licensed. Look for pictures of past projects, read a substantial amount of reviews, and see if they’ve ever been sued and why (a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not kosher. People in this country sue for everything. But if a company has a long list of previous clients suing them, you know they’re not trustworthy).
  1. Get several bids: Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential contractors, get a handful of bids from several of them and compare them. If something seems too good to be true from one of them, it is because it is. If they’re all over the place or have missing information, go with someone else.
  1. Get it in writing: Don’t ever take someone’s word when it comes to big projects. Before agreeing to anything or making payment, draft a contract with all the desired terms. If they offer you their standard boilerplate agreement, review it with an attorney who’s specifically experienced in construction industry contracts.
  1. Get a lien waiver: Remember how we mentioned lawsuits in point number one? If your contractor doesn’t pay their subcontractors, they can place a lien on your property. Doesn’t sound fun, does it? If the company you hired is legit, they should be agreeable to signing a lien waiver. While you’re reviewing the contract with a lawyer, make sure to ask about the waiver’s enforceability.
  1. Ask to see their certificate of insurance: Not only do you want to make sure the work they do is covered, but also that they have Worker’s Compensation insurance for their employees. If someone gets hurt on the job, someone’s going to have to pay for it. By making sure the contractor has worker’s comp covered, you’re protecting your own pocket.

At Eclipse Building Corp., we have all our ducks in a row. Rest assured we’ll be able to do your construction or renovation project without a glitch. Contact us and let’s talk about getting things started – and finished.


Walabots: The Coolest Tool in Town


How many of you remember being in college and trying to hang up stuff on a wall? Sometimes, it would hold up. Other times, you’d hit a beam and it was frustrating as hell trying to figure out where would be the right place to nail something.

Now that we are older and (hopefully) wiser, we know that behind all that plaster lies a covered world of wood beams, studs, insulation, and electrical wiring; and unless you want to run the risk of causing some damage, you better know where all of them are located. The last thing you need is to burst a water pipe while drilling into a wall. So what can you do to get things done and keep wires and pipes intact?

As usual, there’s an app for that.  

         But it’s not something you download. Walabots are a gadget that you physically install to your phone, then slide over your walls to see where everything is located. It’s exactly like taking x-rays of your home or business. And it doesn’t matter if it’s drywall or concrete, this nifty little tool gets the job done.

Now, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all Walabot for every type of project. Depending on whether you just want to install basic decoration in your home or whether you’re remodeling your business, there are different models to choose from.

How is it helpful beyond telling you where to hang a picture?

         Knowing where to hammer a nail is just where the fun begins. Using radio frequency (RF) waves and algorithms, Walabots also analyze materials, which is extremely useful in any renovation project. And here’s the gross part: if there are rodents or roaches inside your walls, Walabots will detect them too. And don’t you want to get rid of those critters before they affect your business?

Fun Facts

As if making your renovation project easier and more efficient weren’t enough, you can even use this tool to determine the composition of liquids. Wanna impress your buddies by telling them the exact alcohol content of their beverage? Scan it with a Walabot. Take bets first, to make it more interesting.

If you’re doing something minor, have fun with it. But if you’re thinking of remodeling your business, leave the logistics to the experts. At Eclipse Building Corp., we can take your vision to reality (and we’ll use Walabots when we have to).

Contact us, and let’s talk about your renovation project. You’ll be glad you did.


How To Avoid Construction Delays


Raise your hand if you like having things completed on time. Also raise your hand if you’ve ever changed your mind about anything.

Every single one of us has made a decision, only to make modifications down the road. And that’s fine. But when it comes to the construction industry, each change of heart may result in significant delays and increasing your costs. So in order to stay on schedule and on budget, it is crucial that you brainstorm all possible outcomes and be as certain as you can be about how you want to proceed.

How a small decision can snowball into an avalanche

Let’s look at the ways you may be responsible for construction delays. Every time you take your sweet time in answering an email or phone call from your project manager or owner’s representative, you stall the project. Every time you want to switch around where a door or window goes, or change the location of the main entrance, or install extra windows, or just be an overall pain in the behind, you stall the project.

Imagine that you decide to install an ornate exterior door to a hallway, where before, the corridor would only serve as a connection from one room to the next. Now you have to consider fire ratings materials, exit sign and additional sprinklers installations. This means additional piping. You may then have to move the location of light fixtures if they are obtrusive of the new piping. You have to install new wiring for the new light fixtures.

All of this would mean having to purchase additional materials, having to pay for additional labor costs, and possibly having to push back your grand opening.

So before you begin your project, sit down with your team and be sure that once you give them the green light, you are good to go. If you have any concerns about what would be the most effective design, or whether a specific idea is viable, talk to us. With all of our years of experience, chances are we can provide a solution that will make you happy. Let us show you how.





Construction Zone Safety Tips for Roadside Workers


We’ve all seen them: We’re driving on our way to work, or taking kids to school, and somewhere on the side of the road there are several construction workers. They’re wearing hard hats and reflective vests; but considering that between 2003 and 2010, 962 workers were killed on roadside accidents, protective gear is obviously not enough.

With all the crazy people who text and drive or speed like they’re racing on The Fast and the Furious, what can be done to keep everyone safe?

It starts with the construction equipment:

While there are some accidents caused by negligent speed demons, most of the injuries and fatalities on roadside construction are caused by construction equipment. And the main reason for construction vehicles running over workers is a lack of adequate visibility. So yes, reflective vests definitely help, but you need to do more. Implement policies that require additional safety items, such as warning lights and audible warning devices. Make sure their reflective gear is labeled “ANSI” (for American National Standard of High Visibility), for Class, 1, 2, or 3 risk exposures.

Once you have the equipment…

Properly brief your workers:

The best equipment in the world is not going to help much if your staff doesn’t know you have it on site, or how to best utilize it. Meet with the entire team before starting on the project, and go over safety essentials. Also remind them to never reverse a vehicle if they have an obstructed rear view. And even if they roll their eyes at you, have regular meetings to remind them of your safety policies and procedures.

Keep weather in mind:

If it’s foggy, commuters may not see your workers. It’s better to push back the schedule for a day than to have to tell family members that one of their loved ones got injured or killed on site. Also, this is Florida. It gets obnoxiously hot during summer. Prioritize having water and salt tablets available. Heat stress is very real, and increases the chances of work related accidents.

Place traffic barriers and speed limit signage:

            At the end of the day, if a drunk person or any other sort of reckless driver wants to face criminal charges later on, that’s on them. But do your part by placing traffic barriers and reduced speed signs around your workers. Make it obvious for oncoming traffic that there’s work going on.

Always prioritize workers’ safety. After all, not only are they someone’s loved ones, but without them, we wouldn’t even have the cities or homes we live in. Construction workers make things happen. Keep ‘em safe.


New Construction Projects in Theme Parks


Living in close proximity to Central Florida, we’re no strangers to theme parks. Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Dinosaur World, and Busch Gardens have put much of our state on tourists’ maps.

And while they are fun to visit and some even have an almost cult-ish following, it’s also interesting to see how these places came to exist in the first place. Yes, they require massive amounts of imagination and creativity. They also require experts in construction to make them a reality. And what are some of these new construction projects? Well, we’re glad you asked!

  1. 1. Star Wars: We’re starting with the best one, because leaving the best for last is nonsense. Since 1977, Star Wars has been the epicenter of everything that is cool. From geeks to the cool kids, this film series is common ground. Yoda even provides a source of inspiration for the spirituality minded. And thanks to Disney World, you can be a part of the resistance.
  2. Toy Story: Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios both have themed rides based on Buzz Lightyear, but starting in the summer of 2018, park guests will be able to fully immerse themselves in the Toy Story experience at Andy’s backyard in Hollywood Studios. You’ve got a friend in me; you’ve got a friend in me. Is the song stuck in your head yet? You’re welcome.
  3. Pandora: The Land of Pandora recently opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and you don’t even have to be a fan of the film to appreciate how cool the place is. From sky-high waterfalls to rock formations and a green landscape so extraordinary, you will feel like you have entered an alternate universe, and that at any given moment, you’ll see a banshee flying overhead.
  1. Super Nintendo: People who grew up in the 80s and 90s, it’s time to rejoice! Everyone’s favorite video game will now have its own theme park home at Universal Studios! The land will be interactive, showcasing once again how construction has evolved, prioritizing guests’ experience over practicality.

Don’t give us that excuse that theme parks are for children. You know you are looking forward to going and reliving your own childhood. Whether with kids or without them, these theme park worlds will be certain to provide us with a lot of fun times. And you can thank construction workers for that.