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Navigating Construction Law in Prince William County

Navigating the complexities of construction law in Prince William County can be daunting. Our award-winning construction lawyers have consistently provided top results in the most complex construction cases, including new home construction contracts, apartments and condominiums, multifamily homes, residential construction disputes, mechanics liens, contractor (Classes A, B and C) liability, failure to pay, and delays.

Services We Offer.

Fox & Moghul has consistently been recognized as a top-tier firm in Prince William County and beyond for construction disputes. Whether you’re a prime contractor, general contractor, subcontractor, homeowner, or business owner facing a construction dispute, you can rely on us as your trusted legal advisors. We offer guidance through all phases of the construction life cycle, such as AIA contract negotiations, change orders, differing site conditions, project scheduling, contract terminations, and dispute resolution.

Common Construction Disputes

Delayed Performance.

Typically, both parties to a construction contract are required to perform in a timely manner. Property owners are typically required to timely obtain permits, provide the workspace, select materials, respond to questions about the design, approve or reject additional work requests, and review and pay payment applications.

On the other hand, contractors and subcontractors are typically required to timely submit a project schedule, pre-order materials, retain subcontractors and material suppliers, provide lien waivers and releases, and deliver the work within the agreed time.
If either party does not perform timely, then the issue becomes what the contract language states, and which party was justified in suspending performance per the contract.

Defective Work.

Contractors are expected to perform their work in a workmanlike manner and in accordance with the plans and specifications for the project. When a contractor’s work is defective, the property owner may:

  • Demand that the defective work be corrected;
  • Terminate the contract and retain a replacement contractor to correct the work;
  • Seek money damages for the cost to correct the work and for other consequential damages like delays, lost rents, damage to other property.

A contractor’s commercial general liability policy will typically cover consequential damage caused by the defective work, e.g., damage to other work, but will not cover the cost to replace the actual defective work.

Failure to Pay and Right to Withhold Payment.

Property owners and contractors have an obligation to timely pay their contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers. Under certain circumstances, the contractor may have been deemed to have abandon the project by either leaving the project site or by failing to employ a sufficient quality and quantity of workmen. Bd. of Supervisors v. Ecology One, Inc., 219 Va. 29, 245 S.E.2d 425 (1978).

Change Orders and Extra Work.

So many disputes arise over change orders, or the lack thereof. Most contracts contain a provision on how the parties are to handle changed or additional work; however, they are rarely followed by either party. A well drafted provision will require the parties to execute a change order that describes the change, the increase or decrease to the contract price, and whether the contractor will receive additional time.

Virginia Code 54.1-1115 and Unlicensed Contracting Work.

It is important to recognize that Virginia criminalizes unlicensed contracting work as a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code 54.1-1115. Virginia Code § 54.1-1115 (Prohibited acts), subsection (A)(1) of which states in relevant part:

  1. The following acts are prohibited and shall constitute the commission of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  2. Contracting for, or bidding upon the construction, removal, repair or improvements to or upon real property owned, controlled or leased by another person without a license or certificate, or without the proper class of license as defined in § 54.1-1100 for the value of work to be performed.

“The statute is designed to protect the public from inexperienced, unscrupulous, irresponsible, or incompetent contractors and to effectuate this purpose it requires a demonstration of ability, character, and financial responsibility as well as a good record of past performance.” See F. S. Bowen Elec. Co. v. Foley, 194 Va. 92, 96, 72 S.E.2d 388, 391 (1952).

What Kind Of Damage Can I Recover?

Generally, the measure of damages for breach of a builder contract is cost of repair. Delay damages may also be recoverable depending on the nature of the contract, and whether it has a liquidated damages provision. Some of the actual damages that may be recoverable due to a delay include:

  • Higher costs of materials or equipment necessitated by the breach;
  • Additional fees and costs paid to construction engineers, architects etc;
  • Costs of extended construction financing due to the breach – that is, loan interest payments;
  • Lost profits;
  • Loss related to any warranty coverage.

Mechanics Liens: Protecting Your Interests

A mechanics lien is a legal claim against a property that has been improved or repaired. This claim ensures that contractors and subcontractors receive payment for their work. In Northern Virginia, the process for filing a mechanics lien is stringent, and any missteps can result in the forfeiture of your rights.
Mechanic’s liens are indispensable tools in construction law. They serve as a safety net for contractors and subcontractors, ensuring that they are compensated for their labor and materials. Mechanics liens also provide leverage in negotiations and can expedite payment processes.

How Fox & Moghul Can Assist You

When it comes to construction law and mechanics liens in Prince William County, Fox & Moghul is your go-to legal partner. Our expertise ensures that your interests are protected and that you navigate the complexities of construction law with ease. We can guide you through the complexities of this process.

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