According to a recent ConstructionDive.com article, construction job openings soared in January 2024 marking over a 40% increase from the same period in 2023. Essentially there were approximately 120,000 more construction job openings at the end of January 2024 than 2023. Quit rates have lowered but apparently layoffs have increased. Essentially, jobs are open

Drain pipe with frozen stream of water near brick wall of a cottage outdoors in winter

Co-author: Trevor Lawhorn

As evidenced by the unprecedented arctic weather last week and the resulting fallout, emergency construction services are essential. Freezing temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters lead to a high demand for remediation and reconstruction services. Contractors are often best positioned to provide the necessary emergency construction services to rebuild businesses, residences

Originally published in Build Houston magazine. 

Co-author: Catherine Chlebowski

The business of construction is a day to day adventure fraught with peril and liabilities dangerous enough to put many construction firms out of business. Given that reality, it is imperative that contractors properly structure the legal entities that provide the fortresses to protect their assets.

Co-author: Michael Kelsheimer
Published in TEXO InFocus Magazine

Since at least 2008, Flood, Fire, Famine and Pestilence have ravaged the construction workforce across America. In the downturn, many workers left the industry never to return. Others left the U.S. and have not returned.  Couple that with construction growth, a resistance to training workers who may leave for another dollar an hour, and seeming lack of interest in construction jobs by the current generation now entering the workforce, and you’ve got the makings of a big challenge.

Protect yourself on the contracting side before heading into the storm . . .

Co-author: Michael Kelsheimer
Published on ForConstructionPros.com

Understand and navigate the government’s amplified focus on undocumented workers to protect your business from escalating fines, jail time, delay damages and back-charges

Whatever your political views, undocumented workers and the businesses that knowingly or unknowingly employ them have been under the microscope since President Trump took office in January 2017.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), between Oct. 1, 2017, and May 4, 2018, there were:

  • 2,282 employer audits opened, nearly a 60% jump from the 1,360 audits opened between October 2016 and September 2017,
  • 594 employers arrested on criminal immigration charges, up from 139 during the previous fiscal year, and
  • 610 civil immigration charges, compared to 172 in the preceding 12 months

Co-authors: Russell Jumper and Tim Fandrey
Published in Cleaning & Restoration Magazine

Just as the Texas coast assessed the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey’s damage, Hurricane Irma was taking shape in the Atlantic. Fewer than two weeks later, Irma would crash into the Florida Keys. Estimates put Harvey and Irma’s combined impact in excess of $275 billion. No small part of that amount will be required for cleaning and restoration services. Before Irma made landfall, even as Harvey hovered over the Houston area, restoration professionals from around the country arrived along the Texas coast to kick-start Texas’ recovery. For the people who lost their homes, possessions, and even family or friends, the focus turned to recovery. For some of the restoration professionals who helped, and continue to help, a second storm is forming: owner and insurer payment disputes. Like boarding up windows and setting out sandbags, there are some steps cleaning and restoration professionals can take in an effort to minimize the damage from the approaching payment dispute storm.

Co-authors: Russell Jumper and Tim Fandrey

Hurricane Harvey caused severe destruction in Texas with its significant winds and historic rainfall. But Harvey may also prove to be a costly lesson for many project owners and contractors. As Texas begins to focus on recovery in the coming weeks, Harvey will further serve as a reminder to all construction industry stakeholders that hurricanes, and other “acts of God”, are risks that must be effectively managed during the pre-construction and construction phases of every project. While it is difficult to effectively avoid the risks attendant to a highly-destructive, low probability event that occurs on short notice, owners and contractors have two primary tools at their disposal to mitigate the effects of such an event: (i) contractual force majeure provisions; and (ii) builder’s risk insurance.

Co-authors: Jeff Leach, Tim Fandrey.
Published in Pipeline Magazine and Build Houston Magazine.

As a result of newly enacted Texas Senate Bill 1289, buying American iron and steel is now a requirement on certain public infrastructure projects in Texas. Promoted by President Trump, passed by the Texas Legislature in May and signed in to law this summer by Governor Greg Abbott, the new law, effective Sept. 1, 2017, requires that iron and steel be purchased from an American supplier unless the American supplier price is more than 20 percent higher than the price of the cheaper foreign importer. Foreign iron and steel may also be used if American suppliers are not prepared to supply a project, or if there is a compelling state interest that warrants the use of a foreign manufacturer’s steel.

Co-author: Michael Kelsheimer

Whatever your political views, undocumented workers and the businesses that knowingly or unknowingly employ them are coming under the microscope.

If you compile recent headlines, you’ll know the President has implemented two immigration bans, is challenging so-called “Sanctuary Cities” that do not help Federal immigration enforcement, has instructed government agencies to become more aggressive in enforcement of immigration laws, and is already reviewing proposals to strengthen the border wall.  On top of this, the E-Verify program for verifying worker status is likely to become mandatory.

Further, employers who try to do it right by using the H-2B program have been dealt a stiff blow.  The Returning Worker Program, which dramatically extended the stingy 66,000 nationwide cap on H-2B non-immigrant workers, has not been renewed.  The H-2B cap has already been reached for 2017, so the hope for help there is gone.

Most commercial construction contracts contain a “No Damage For Delay” Clause and most contractors mistakenly believe they are Kings X for any potential claims related to delay caused by an owner or original contractor. While nearly every commercial construction contract contains the same or similar provisions, it is important to keep in mind they all have different authors, which means typically no two clauses are ever drafted the same.

This is particularly important when it comes to “No Damage For Delay” Clauses as the actual breadth of the language and scope will set the tone for their enforcement or circumvention. There are several common law exceptions to “No Damage for Delay” clauses recognized in Texas, which may be neutralized or ignored by the particular language of a “No Damage for Delay” Clause.