One of our primary practice areas is construction litigation. We have an active construction law practice, and our construction attorneys have handled a wide range of range of litigation over construction disputes. We represent large and small contractors, general contractors, subcontractors with a wide range of specialties, property owners, home owners, developers and vendors.
Breach of Construction Contract Litigation
We represent owners and contractors in litigation over the breach of construction contracts. The breaches owners’ claimed by contractors generally involve failing to pay for work performed or contracted for. On the contractors’ side, claimed breaches often include failure to start or complete the work on time, cost overruns, delays and construction defects.
Construction Defect Litigation
Our construction lawyers represent owners, contractors and developers in litigation over claims of construction defects. This litigation can be simple, for example such as when there is a claim that a mason laid down an uneven sidewalks, to extremely complex, when there are latent defects discovered years after construction in complex or multi-unit commercial properties. Our lawyers work tirelessly to obtain the evidence necessary to pursue our clients’ cases, and with engineers and architects to use that evidence to prove that case to the judges and arbitrators who will decide it.
Collecting Unpaid Work
One of the most frustrating events which good contractors and subcontractors face is when they expend the considerable effort and incur the significant cost required to complete a project, and then the owner or general contractor refuses to pay them. Our attorneys make full use of all the tools which New Jersey construction law provides to ensure that contractors get paid for their work.
One of the most effective means of collecting unpaid balances for work performed is filing a construction lien. Construction liens create an “interest” in the property where the work was done, and effectively prevent owners from selling the property or using it as collateral until the debt is paid. Construction liens have tight timelines and complex procedural requirements, however. New Jersey construction law also requires that suit must be filed to enforce the lien within one year. Our attorneys have extensive experience drafting and filing construction liens and filing suit to enforce them. Another remedy to which New Jersey construction law provides to contractors to help them get paid is the Prompt Payment Act. This law requires, as its title says, prompt payment for contractors and subcontractors who meet certain administrative/paperwork prerequisites.
Condominium Association Construction Issues
Condominium associations face unique issues when they transition from control by the developer/sponsor to control by the owners. Generally, the condo association will hire an engineer to inspect the development to determine whether the developer left the owner with construction defects. In many cases, the association and developer reach agreement on how to handle any defects which are discovered. Many times, however, they cannot. When agreement cannot be reached, our construction attorneys represent condo associations, owners, developers and contractors in disputes over claims of construction defects during the transition phase.
Consumer Fraud Violations
The New Jersey Home Improvement Act and regulations implementing that Act have made certain acts and omissions by “home improvement contractors” violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. This is a significant issue for contractors and owners alike. Contractors must be aware that even a good faith omission from their contract or other failure to comply with the regulations’ intricate requirements can cause them not only to lose out on being paid, but also sued for significant damages plus having to pay the homeowners’ legal fees. These violations include a contractor’s failure to register with the Department of Community Affairs as a “home improvement contractor.” The following omissions from a “home improvement contract” are also examples of consumer fraud violations: Failure to include a completion date; failure to include the contractor’s registration number; failure to include registration numbers; failure to provide insurance certificates; and failure to include the right to cancel the contract. The list is long, but any violation can impose triple damages and attorneys fees.
However, this is also a good tool for homeowners who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors. The contractor must take seriously the threat of a consumer fraud lawsuit and possible penalties. This gives it great incentive to compete the job on time, professionally, and for a fair price.
Where We Litigate
We litigate in the State and Federal courts in New Jersey, New York, and throughout the Northeast. Likewise we also handle mediation and arbitration, including construction arbitration before the American Arbitration Association (known as the “AAA”).
Call (973) 890-0004 or e-mail us to set up a consultation with one of our construction attorneys to discuss how we can help you with your construction dispute.