Best Practices Construction Law

Best Practices Construction Law

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Matt has written articles and given presentations on all aspects of construction law. Find a resource here.

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Best Practices top posts include claims preparation, contract drafting, and litigation pitfalls. You don’t want to miss these ones.

Matthew DeVries

Matt is a construction & litigation attorney at Burr & Forman LLP and father of seven young kids.

Category Archives: Federal Construction

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Did the FAR Lose Its Mojo in the Government Contracts World? Depends.

Posted in Case Law, Claims, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
It’s not everyday that you read about one of your longtime heroes, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (“FAR”), losing some of its mojo.  The Nash & Cibinic Report read as follows: “The FAR: Does It Have Contractual Force and Effect?” According to the article, there remains some confusion about the application of the FAR based upon the recent… Continue Reading

How Construction May Be Affected by President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration

Posted in Federal Construction, Legal Trends, Legislation
With all the talk about billions of dollars of investment in infrastructure and sweeping reversal of prior executive orders affecting construction labor and federal contracts, it should come as no surprise that President Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration may have an affect on the construction industry. What Happened?  Beginning on January 25, 2017, the… Continue Reading

Texas Court Gobble-Gobbles New Federal Overtime Rules

Posted in Best Practices, Federal Construction, Legislation
On this Thanksgiving Eve, contractors and other employers can take a breathe and gobble down some extra turkey and pumpkin pie without worrying about the new increases in overtime rules. On Tuesday, November 22, 2016, a Texas federal court entered a nationwide injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) new federal overtime rules from… Continue Reading

What A Trump Card Means In The Game of Construction and Development

Posted in Development, Federal Construction, Leadership, Transportation
Like many of you, I stayed up late on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning to watch the 2016 election returns.  I dragged myself into the office after only a few hours of sleep and my phone was immediately ringing. Some clients. Some association contacts. Some reporters.  They all wanted to talk about the same thing:… Continue Reading

What I Learned from My Kids About Delay Claims

Posted in Claims
This past week, I came home to a complete mess in our backyard—it was littered with debris, trash, plates and utensils, and overturn patio furniture.  My instruction to the kids yesterday morning was stern: “Clean up this mess by the time I get home…or else!” One kid fixed the furniture in 15 minutes. One kid… Continue Reading

How To Track Increased Construction Costs For Proving Claims

Posted in Best Practices, Claims, Claims and Disputes
I previously blogged about the importance of using daily reports to prove construction claims. In addition to daily reports, the following records should be prepared and maintained in the normal course of business to help prove claims and effectively manage the project: Correspondence file containing all correspondence relating to a specific claim, including letters and/or… Continue Reading

Between A Rock and A Hard Place: How the Severin Doctrine May Relate to Your Statute of Limitations Period

Posted in Bid Protest, Case Law, Claims, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
I previously blogged about the rules relating to pass-through claims, where a prime contractor’s recovery from an owner for damages suffered by its subcontractor is limited in certain circumstances.  In the post, I talked about a “past-through-plus” claim based upon the Severin doctrine, which provides a prime contractor cannot sue an owner on behalf of one… Continue Reading

Who Assumes the Risk of Material Cost Increases? As Always, It Depends!

Posted in Best Practices, Claims, Federal Construction
When a client asks me about a particular contract provision and why it is “unfair” or “uneven”, we began a discussion about risk allocation. You see, the contract is used to shift the various risks on the project to the party most appropriate to handle it.  In other words, you are negotiating about who takes… Continue Reading

Proceed Wisely, Ninja Contractor, Because Suing Your DOT May Have Limitations

Posted in Case Law, Claims, Claims and Disputes, Federal Construction, Legal Trends, Transportation
No self-respecting Ninja goes into battle without a plan, right? You need to know your environment, your opponent and the rules of the battle.  For you Ninja contractors, it’s a good thing to fully understand your potential recovery before you spend countless months and thousands of dollars pursuing a claim against your state DOT for… Continue Reading

Opening Up the Doors (Roads) for Design-Build Contracts on Highway Projects

Posted in Best Practices, Contract Docs, Federal Construction, Transportation
The Department of Transportation in my home state of New Mexico is the latest to allow the design-build delivery method for highway projects. Although design-build had been approved in New Mexico on limited public projects, road and highway construction had been previously excluded.  That changed on March 9, 2016, when Governor Susana Martinez signed into… Continue Reading

Do Your Employees and Construction Laborers Belong to You? Depends.

Posted in Best Practices, Federal Construction, Legislation
When walking through the mall or the grocery store with my children, I inevitably get asked, “Are they all yours?”  Depending on my mood, I may or may not claim them all.  As a general contractor, you will want to know the law on whether laborers hired through a staffing company will be considered “yours”… Continue Reading

No Lump on the Head for One Contractor’s Failure to Follow Public Bid Instructions

Posted in Best Practices, Bid Protest, Federal Construction
In our house of chaos, rules are especially important.  And when you don’t follow the rules—like no jumping on the furniture—you could end up with a lump on your head.  Just ask Jackson. In the world of government contracts, you know that rules, instructions, and directions should be followed precisely.  In the case of Silver… Continue Reading

Top 10 Compliance Laws for Federal Highway Contractors

Posted in Best Practices, Federal Construction
Following up on my post about the Yates Memo, I started to think more about the areas of compliance that federal highway contractors must face.  Contractors certify many things and interact with a wide variety of governmental agencies. Similar to what occurred after the bid-rigging scandals, governmental scrutiny has increased because of a loss of… Continue Reading

What Federal Contractors Should Know About the “Yates Memo”

Posted in Best Practices, Federal Construction
On September 9, 2015, United States Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates issued a memorandum directing increased focus on individual culpability in matters of corporate wrongdoing. In addition to fines and sanctions against the corporation, the memo highlights six policy directives targeting individuals involved in corporate wrongdoing. If you are a federal contractor, watch out! According… Continue Reading

New Executive Order Requires Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

Posted in Best Practices, Federal Construction
I have seven kids.  I fully understand the importance of “leave” from work when another kid comes along (…how did that happen?…) or when a close family member is sick.  But right now, they are all happy. Signed by President Barack Obama on September 7, 2015, Executive Order No. 13706 will require federal contractors and… Continue Reading

ATTN: Federal Contractors, Beware of Harassment and Discrimination on Construction Sites

Posted in Best Practices, Federal Construction
“Did you hear the one about . . . ?”  Of course you have.  We have all heard the racial and discriminatory jokes at the work place.  If you are a federal contractor, you should be aware of Executive Order 11246. In separate investigations, a staffing agency and a construction company were recently charged with… Continue Reading

“New” Means “New” When the Construction Contract Says “New”

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
There’s “new.” And there’s “new to you.” And there’s “refurbished new.” And there’s “open box special new.” And there’s “floor display model new.”  But when it comes to contract specifications requiring “new” equipment, one court looked to a dictionary to define it as “never used before” and “free of significant damage.” In a recent case,… Continue Reading

Government Contractors: Threatening to File a Claim is Not the Same as Filing a Claim

Posted in Case Law, Claims and Disputes, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
Words matter. Grammar matters. Even punctuation matters: Let’s eat, Grandma! Let’s eat Grandma! For one government contractor, its claim was recently rejected by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals because the Board found that the Contractor did not properly state its claim.  In Construction Group LLC v. Dept. of Homeland Security, 15-1 BCA para. 35900… Continue Reading

Brrrrrr, It’s Cold! How to Best Prepare a Delay Claim for Unusually Severe Weather

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Claims and Disputes, Federal Construction, Transportation
In anticipation of what could be an influx of wintry weather, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has made arrangements to ensure the state’s roadways stay clear. According to the Johnson City Press, TDOT has distributed more than 200,000 tons of salt and 2 million gallons of brine to stations in each of the state’s 95… Continue Reading

Are Construction Dispute Claims by the State Ever Time Barred? Depends.

Posted in Case Law, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
I have written before about statutes of limitation and statutes of repose relating to construction disputes. I recently learned that these principles may not apply to a public owner’s claims against design professionals and contractors. Statutes of limitation/repose?  In its simplest terms, a statute of limitation is a time limit for bringing a lawsuit (i.e.,… Continue Reading

Bargaining Room v. False Claims: 5 Tips for Negotiation of Construction Claims

Posted in Best Practices, Claims and Disputes, Federal Construction
Earlier this week, a settlement was reached in dispute where the contractor and designer were alleged to have filed false claims with the U.S. Government on two road projects in South Carolina.  The issue raises an important question: What should a contractor do during negotiations to allow for some “bargaining room” so as to avoid… Continue Reading

Differing Site Conditions and Why You Should Read Pages 17-20 of the Metcalf Decision

Posted in Best Practices, Case Law, Federal Construction, Legal Trends
It’s Friday morning and there are probably better things you would like to do with your remaining day than read a 22-page government contracts decision. But if you have ever experienced a differing site condition on your project, then here is why you should read pages 17-20 of the recent decision in Metcalf Construction Company… Continue Reading