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. Continue Reading Softening a Hurricane’s Blow: Force Majeure and Builder’s Risk

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. Continue Reading “Buy American” Law Changes How Texans Buy Iron and 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. Continue Reading ICE is coming for Undocumented Workers – How to Prevent Corporate Frostbite

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. Continue Reading How to Circumvent “No Damages for Delay” Clauses

Commercial landlords often allow commercial tenants to construct a buildout tailored to their business (e.g., retail stores, restaurants, redesigning office space, etc.)  Such tenants hire general contractors who in turn hire subcontractors and suppliers.  What lien rights do such subcontractors and suppliers have? Continue Reading Filing a Lien When the Work is Done for a Tenant Rather Than an Owner

Get the project information up front

You should ask your customer for the owner’s name and address, the location of the project, a copy of the payment bond (if any), and the general contractor’s name and address (if you are a second tier subcontractor or supplier).  Having this information at the outset will help you quickly send out bond and lien notices if the new customer falls behind on making payments. Continue Reading 7 Ways to Manage the Credit Risk of a New Customer

Federally owned construction projects are covered by a Miller Act Payment Bond for the benefit of the subcontractors and suppliers thereof.  If you make a claim for payment under the Miller Act, you may, under certain circumstances, also have a claim for attorney fees and interest.  The text of the Miller Act is silent with respect to attorney fees and pre-judgment interest.  However, federal common law allows the recovery of both under certain circumstances. Continue Reading Increasing Your Recovery Under a Federal Payment Bond Claim