Construction Law FAQs

Construction Law: Most Commonly Asked Questions

What is a building code?

Building codes are strict construction policies that govern how building sites are built and maintained. Building codes help keep construction workers accountable and ensure that buildings are safe and reliable.

What permits do I need to get?

You will need a construction permit if you plan to remodel, add to or alter any building. The type of permit that you will need varies and is contingent upon the type of structure that you intend to build, the building codes for your area, the scope of the construction and rules of the area that you live in. For more information on what you may need to begin your construction project, you should contact an experienced construction law attorney.

Do I have to use a licensed contractor on my construction project?

Yes. It is best to have a licensed contractor on your construction project.

What is a mechanic’s lien?

A mechanic’s lien is a security interest that can be placed against a piece of property by the supplier or laborer. In construction law, it is used to protect the investments made into the property. If something does not go as planned, a mechanic’s lien allows people to receive compensation.

Can my contractor bill me for more than his estimate?

Your contractor is expected to provide you with more than an estimate. He should provide you with a quote, which is an exact amount that should be placed in writing. If the contractor is skilled in the construction field, it should not be a problem for him/her to provide you with a legitimate quote. If your contractor fails to adhere to the demands of the contract, or if he charges you more than the quote that you were initially given, you should contact an experienced construction law attorney.

Is an oral contract legally valid?

In the state of Florida, both oral and written contracts are considered valid and enforceable. However, oral contracts may be more likely to cause confusion and result in contract disputes. Further, it  can be extremely difficult to rely on an oral contract in a court of law. Thus, it is best to obtain a written contract, with specific and detailed outlines of the terms and conditions of the construction project.

What is the difference between a building inspection and a home inspection?

A building inspection investigates an area to ensure that the state and quality of the building aligns with the area’s building codes. Meanwhile, a home inspection is used to provide a resident with a professional opinion of the conditions of the home.

What does the builder’s warranty really cover?

While it may vary and fluctuate depending on the years of protection, a builder’s warranty may cover any of the following:

  • Labor
  • Supplies and materials
  • Mechanical defects
  • Structural defects

What is a construction defect?

A construction defect is an error and/or deficiency in the building structure. It can often be the result of professional negligence and/or failure to adhere to a given contract and basic construction regulations. It is best to contact an experienced construction defect attorney for guidance.

How do I prove that a defect exists?

It is best to hire an expert in the construction field to thoroughly inspect the premises and notate if there are any defects on the property. An expert can provide reasoning and explanation of why a defect is a defect, as well as the harm that can be posed to presiding and visiting residents on the property. Then, you should contact a construction law attorney.

What should I do if the developer has agreed to make the necessary repairs?

You should consider hiring an expert to confirm the defects and an attorney to ensure that the defects are properly identified and prepared.

Where do I get the money to pay for a lawsuit?

Many properties have homeowner associations, which may be willing to support your lawsuit. Otherwise, you may wish to borrow loans from lenders or hire a contingency lawyer.

How do I recover if the builder / developer is out of business, cannot be located or is bankrupt?

Albeit not impossible, funds may be significantly delayed if a builder/developer is out of business, cannot be located or is bankrupt. You should speak to a construction attorney to explore your available options.

Will the homeowners or homeowner association’s insurance company cover damages caused by construction defects?

They most likely will not, but it may not depend on the circumstances.

Am I required to make repairs while the lawsuit is pending? Can I recover those costs in the lawsuit?

Yes to both questions. You must do whatever you can to prevent the property from experiencing further damage. These costs can be reimbursed to you in the lawsuit.

Can I sell or refinance my home during the litigation?

Yes. You should contact an experienced real estate broker and lawyer for assistance.

What Florida statutes generally cover Florida construction lien law and how are they construed?

Florida construction lien law can be found in FL Statute 713.001-713.37. These statutes outline the type of liens that are available, authorization of people handling liens, and how to use construction liens correctly.

What is a construction lien?

A construction lien is used to protect suppliers and/or laborers of a construction project by ensuring that they are paid for their services. By placing a lien against a site or piece of property, professionals can be confident that their investments will be profited. The lien informs people that money is owed to the creditor.

What is lienable?

Lienable means that a site or property requires payment. It is essentially a term used to explain that debt is owed on a piece of property.

What property can be liened?

Liens can be assigned to real estate, business property and personal property, as long as there are multiple experts working on a project that expect to receive pay for their services.

What are the critical pre-lien notices required under Florida Construction Lien Law?

The Notice of Commencement and the Notice to Owner/Contractor.

What are the basics and functionality of the Notice of Commencement?

The Notice of Commencement is extremely important. From the date that it is filed, it determines the lien that will be attached to the property. This public notice outlines the details and description of the property and the project; a legal account of the property; and the names and contact information of all of the parties involved in the construction project.

What should I do if I am a lienor and have received a Notice of Termination?

If you are a lienor and money is owed to you, it is crucial that you record your claim of lien as soon as possible after receiving a Notice of Termination. This ensures that you receive funds for your services and investment.

How are liens waived, released and satisfied?

In construction law, a waived lien implies the release of a future right. A released lien implies the release of an accrued right. A satisfied lien implies the release of a recorded asserted claim. Florida construction law requires that parties choose their lien, as opposed to being forced to give up crucial rights. You should contact an experienced construction law attorney for assistance with these types of liens.

What is a Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit?

A Contractor’s Final Payment Affidavit is a legal document that is used to obtain the final payment from an owner. It notes the work that is completed and the amount of money that is owed. It requires signatures and is legally binding.

How are unlicensed contractors treated under Florida Lien law? What disciplinary actions and criminal penalties can be imposed for abuse of Florida’s Construction lien laws?

Unlicensed contractors are not legally permitted to lien property. Therefore, there is a major likelihood that they may not receive payments for their services because their lien will be considered invalid and void.

Willful and intentional abuse of Florida’s Construction lien laws may constitute a charge with a felony of the first, second or third degree.

What is a fraudulent lien and what are the penalties for filing one?

Any lien, or claim against a property, that is willfully and intentionally fabricated, exaggerated, falsified or misrepresented constitutes fraud. This is considered a felony of the third degree and may result in serious jail time and fines.

What is a homeowners association?

When you purchase a piece of personal property, you are required to join a homeowners association. These corporations require monthly and yearly fees to maintain the area.

Who can be held liable for construction accident injuries?

Anyone involved in a construction project can be held liable for professional negligence and held accountable for construction accident injuries. These may include construction site owners, subcontractors, designers, architects, engineers, manufacturers, laborers and suppliers.