Taking a proactive approach to building project disputes

Given the towering skylines of many East Coast cities, it’s not surprising that lawmakers have passed laws governing how such structures are constructed.

Yet even on the smallest scale, there are many issues that can surface after an individual or company has obtained the funds to embark on a construction project. A project doesn’t have to be as big as a skyscraper to encounter issues with zoning approvals, project site inspections, or regulations governing independent contractors.

Unfortunately, the laws governing construction, remodeling and/or rehabilitation projects can be complex and extensive, and vary by state. Differences in state law can cause confusion for companies with operations in multiple states. For example, New York has a unique law intended to provide legal options to construction workers who suffer scaffolding-related injuries. The provision, called Local Law 240 and often referred to as the Scaffold Law, permits injured construction workers to bring a liability suit against the company that hired them.

Massachusetts doesn’t have an equivalent to New York’s Scaffold Law, but that doesn’t mean that a developer or property owner shouldn’t consult with a real estate attorney before beginning a construction project. Many disputes — injury, financial or other types — can arise in the context of a construction project.

For example, in the event of an injury on a scaffold, a Massachusetts worker may attempt to bring claims against other parties, such as the site’s general contractor, subcontractors, vendors and even manufacturers. In the event of delay, a party may seek to bring a breach of contract claim. A consultation with an attorney may allow an owner to take a proactive approach to such potential issues.

Source: New York Daily News, “When lawsuits protect hardhats,” Errol Louis, April 17, 2014