A Helpful Guide for Homeowners, Contractors, and Commercial Business Owners
Whenever we hear the terms Usury and Racketeering, we think of two things, organized crime, and the RICO Act. But did you know that these two terms are very common within the New York Construction industry? Whether you are a homeowner, a contractor or a commercial business owner, usury and racketeering come in many different shapes and sizes. What are the types of Construction Usury, and how can we protect ourselves?
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This is a general information article and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers are encouraged to seek counsel from a construction lawyer for advice on a particular circumstance.
When homeowners are ready to get the ball rolling with their new construction project, excitement and happy emotions usually take over when signing the construction agreement. With that said, however, there is an important relationship from start through final completion with your contractor, and significant issues could develop. When advising in breach of contract and contract termination cases, there are five examples all homeowners should look out for before pulling the trigger, that may justify your agreements termination. Continue reading “5 Reasons that may Justify the Termination of your Construction Agreement”
We have all heard the expression, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” But, how do we really know when we are being fooled? Though Construction Fraud was not listed in Investopedia’s Most Common Types of Consumer Fraud article, Construction Fraud is more common than you would think. Normally, when one thinks about the term “fraud”, you think of your credit card being compromised, but did you ever think of Construction Fraud, and ways you can prevent it?
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What does Long Island construction law say about terminating construction agreements? Despite the increasingly common use of arbitration in construction agreements, the New York Supreme Court has clarified that owners cannot terminate their construction agreement and fail to follow requirements for termination without repercussions. A recent pre-arbitration victory by John Caravella, Esq. confirms that the court unwilling to waive terms contained for termination and remedial efforts post termination to cure will not suffice to transform a wrongful termination into a termination for cause.
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What do you need a building permit for? This is one of the most common questions regarding construction. Building permits are both important and necessary and the failure to obtain one can cause major obstacles down the road. Building permits are needed whenever a homeowner is altering or expanding their current home, installing a swimming pool, deck, shed or more. Building permits are more important than you think, and here’s why!
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Everybody loves an exciting renovation project. Whether it’s finishing floors, replacing drywall, or even as simple as painting the walls. When it comes to such projects, there will be debris left behind. Construction waste is any “trash” on a job site from leftover materials. Some of these materials could contain harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, asbestos and even live wires and sharp, dangerous objects. Discarding and eliminating leftover construction waste properly is extremely important for your safety, and even the surrounding environment. Construction waste comes in many different forms. The most common forms are listed below.
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Often times in discussions with contractors, I hear many of the same types of issues repeat themselves, and from the perspective of counsel, quite preventable. While not every potential problem on a project can be determined upfront, keeping the following 5 tips for contractors in mind might be helpful in preventing problems, improving business practices, and effectively managing risks.
- Be proactive throughout the project. You know that your work is good, and you expect your project owner to be pleased, but some owners may be difficult or unreasonable to please. Sometimes complaints as to work in the trailing end of a project can also be made as a pretext to avoid making full payment. For that reason, don’t wait for problems to arise. You should document the quality, completeness, and progression of your work as you are working on the project. I have seen projects where contractors were no longer allowed access to the project, and obtaining access to document completeness of work can be difficult once a problem arises.
At a minimum, you should be photographing conditions of all areas of the site within the scope of your work to show (1) existing conditions at the time you begin work, (2) inspection phases, (3) substantial completion, and (4) final completion.
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Despite much construction litigation, New York courts who govern Long Island construction law are agreed that an unlicensed home improvement contractor cannot recover against consumers. That has not, however, stopped unlicensed contractors from arguing exceptions to that rule. A recent court victory by John Caravella, Esq. confirms that courts remain unwilling to accept excuses from unlicensed contractors.
In Orefice v. Guma Development, homeowners sued an unlicensed contractor for defective construction. Notably, the local municipal code requires that any person doing business as a contractor be licensed by the municipality. A corporation does not require its own license if a licensed contractor is employed by the firm as a supervisor.
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Much construction litigation arises from disputes over Scaffold Law liability. Simply, the Scaffold Law makes certain contractors and project owners liable for injuries to workers on construction sites. The Scaffold Law has been criticized for the burdens it imposes on contractors and owners and for allowing workers to collect even if they have ignored safety rules.
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