Establishing a solid construction building agreement is extremely critical to the success of the project. You need to make sure your needs and priorities are completely documented and not open to interpretation. This makes obtaining a strong legal advocate throughout the construction process a very high priority. The lawyer chosen should have specific knowledge pertaining to the type of project planned: commercial or residential and experience in the state where the building is to be constructed. In addition, your lawyer’s reputation is critical in order to bring credibility and strength in the negotiation of your contract. The law firm and appointed attorney should be under contract prior to choosing a Builder, thus the lawyer should be able to assist in guiding you to a Contractor that is easy to work with, experienced and reputable. The lawyer should make sure there are no outstanding legal claims against the Builder or sub-contractors.
In addition, you should work with your attorney to define payment terms that align with the completed phases and budget. This should include which forms and documentation will be submitted when payment is requested. A hold-back provision, retainage, should be established as part of the contract not to be paid until the work is completed to your satisfaction. Establish penalties if the project is not completed by a mutually agreed upon date however, there should be a clause that allows the Contractor to adjust the finish date in the case of change orders and weather related delays.
Throughout the building process your architect will be your advocate when dealing with the builder on construction issues however, protecting your financial and legal rights are best done by attorneys who understand the building process. It is your job to understand the role of the lawyer throughout the entire construction process