By Mark A. Cobb
As an active participant in the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry, I already knew what a terrific experience the Annual Meeting would be; however, this year’s meeting truly exceeded all expectations.
About 300 – 400 construction attorneys from across the country convened at the conference to learn, teach, discuss, network and enjoy themselves. It’s a wonderful opportunity to see colleagues, discuss pending cases, and develop new legal theories. This year was particularly fascinating since I am one of the editors of the forth-coming 50-State Lien Law publication; the Annual Meeting gave the other two-editors and me an opportunity to meet in person, and I was also able to meet many of the contributors face-to-face.
Also, the Annual Meeting provides very timely and informative learning sessions enabling me to earn my full year’s continuing legal education credit! Although I tried to post a little bit on face book, here’s a list of some of the informative legal sessions which I attended:
- The Construction Lawyer’s Role Before and After a Crises Strikes
- When Bad Things Happen to Good People – Defending Design Professionals in Disciplinary Proceedings
- How to Draft Effective Construction Contract Insurance Provisions
- Helping Your Client Set Up a Pre-Bid Risk Assessment System
- Joint Defense & Liquidating Agreements in Construction Litigation
- You Can’t Take my Equipment – Extraordinary Rimes Call for Extraordinary Measures
- Cross-Examination of a Scheduling Expert
- Bytes & Drones – Opportunities and Challenges at the New Frontiers of Construction Law
- E-Discovery and Other Emerging Issues
- Public-Private Partnerships
It may be hard to believe, but at the ABA’s Construction Forum attendees actually want to attend most sessions as the speakers are so engaging and the topics are so educational. It would be difficult to chose the “best” presentation, but I particularly enjoyed The Construction Lawyer’s Role Before and After a Crises. Needless to say, crises can strike at any time without warning, so it can be crucial to be prepared and have a contingency plan. This amazing session included three speakers–one construction lawyer, one prominent journalist, and one airline lawyer. Having the airline attorney’s perspective was amazing since they have to be prepared for a significant crises virtually every day. They train thoroughly for every type of crises including bankruptcy, emergency landings, deaths, and missing planes. Thus, we learned from an industry leader how to better manage crises as well as how the medie can help mitigate some of the damages which might result from a poorly handled crises.
In the session on drafting effective insurance provisions, there was discussion of all types of insurance which our clients may need to consider including common insurance such as Worker’s Compensation, CGL, automobile and Builder’s Risk Insurance as well as atypical insurances such as Professional Liability, Pollution Liability, Subcontractor Default Liability, Directors & Officers Insurance, Workplace Violation Insurance, Kidnapping & Ransom Insurance, etc.
In addition to a great learning experience and a seeing my fellow construction attorneys, it was great to socialize and meet other attorneys from across the country. There was a breakfast speaker who discussed nutrition, a civil-right’s attorney gave a luncheon talk, and there was a fundraiser for a museum.
Every year, I look forward to the annual meeting, and I can’t wait for next years!
Georgia construction attorney, Mark Cobb serves as adjunct faculty at Thomas University. Currently, he is teaching a class on construction law and business, and one of his students, Eric Persson., is today’s guest blogger, and he is solely responsible for its content. Eric is a junior at Thomasville University studying business management. His hometown is Gothenburg, Sweden, and he would like to pursue a career in chocolate production after graduating. In addition to his academic pursuits, Eric is the captain of the TU’s nationally-ranked soccer team.
by Eric Persson
As we all know, people are the fundamental building blocks of any constructions. Without workers a construction project will never see the light. On big projects many parties are involved in the construction, these can include; general contractor, subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, architects etc. In order for the different operations and functions to smoothly work, it is crucial for any party that they have the right staff, at the right time, in the right place.
Staffing is crucial when working with construction. It gives the project manager a better understanding when it comes to scheduling. Scheduling is another part of a construction project that is very important as well. By scheduling the work, owners can get a better understanding in factors like time and cost. In order to better understand how a construction project is carried out, I believe it is necessary to address two main areas. First, I will address the importance of having the right staff in place. Second, I will address the concept of project scheduling.
Staffing Construction Projects:
Having competent and good workers is good for any business. It makes the managers job much easier. Having a worker that is competent, skilled, reliable, self going, humble etc. creates a better work-environment for all people involved. I believe that a good work-environment is crucial in order to perform at the highest level. This can not be achieved if one or more workers are unreliable or unskilled. It will cause the company to some how compensate for the workers that should have complete the function in the first place.
As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to have the right people, at the right place, at the right time in order to effectively complete a project. Staffing includes recruiting, training and maintaining of staff. It is the process of selecting individuals to perform specific functions in the operation. People are a company’s most valuable resource. The workers in a company determines the quality of work that in this sense will determine the reputation of the firm. Having good staff on-board, creates a competitive advantage for the company, in which the quality of work reflects the company itself. A scholar that supports my point is Smriti Chand, who wrote an article entitled, “Staffing: It’s Meaning, Nature and Importance”. In her article she says, “Staffing is the key to the efficient performance of other functions of management. If an organization does not have competent personnel, it can’t perform planning, organization and control functions properly” (Chand). This supports my point, that not many people think of staffing as fundamental factor in a construction project, when in fact it is. It provides a way for managers to be effective and resulting in saving both time and money.
As Chand already mentioned staffing goes hand in hand with planning and scheduling. Planning and scheduling is the heart of a construction project. It determines how successful the project will end up being. Construction managers worldwide have tried to make this operation as effective as possible in order to save money and time. There is no reason why the roof of a house should arrive to the building site when the walls are not even built yet. Timing is a crucial factor when it comes to scheduling. Segmenting a project into smaller projects is vital. By doing so, a project manager can carry out the necessary operations with precision and timing. Today, most project managers use software to schedule their projects. Depending on the complexity of the project, different softwares are use. The most common techniques use in these softwares include Bar Charts, Critical Path Method and Line of Balance.
The Bar Charts is the easiest of the three, due to the simplicity. The adaptation capabilities in this software makes it easy to change operations in the project, making it the most used scheduling technique. There are a lot of things that needs to be considered when planning a project. This could be logistics, requirements, materials, and constraints. For example, where to buy materials from. The location of the store where materials are purchased. How to get the materials from the store to the building site. All these events needs to be well planned and executed in order for the project be completed in time.
It should now be evident that staffing and scheduling are important operations when it comes to understanding the process of construction. Staffing is the process of having the right workers do what they do best, in order to be more efficient, and to save money and time. Staffing a project includes operations like; recruiting, training and maintaining staff within a company. Scheduling is an operation that goes hand in hand with staffing. Scheduling a project means segmenting the project into smaller operations that can be recorded on completion. Both if this operations gives the reader a better insight on how construction as a whole works.
Although its a little lower tech than mentioned in the article, the Cobb Law Group offers free calendaring wheels which can help with projecting project scheduling deadlines, calculating mechanics and materialmen’s lien deadlines, payment bond claim deadlines, etc. If you wish to received a free calendaring wheel, please click on the banner on the right hand side of this page or click here >>
Chand, Smriti , “Staffing: It’s Meaning, Nature and Importance”, Business Management, Retrieved 16 February 2015.
During this special holiday season, the attorneys and staff of the Cobb Law Group would like to take this opportunity to thank our clients, friends, colleagues, and vendors for their support. We truly believe that our clients are among the finest construction professionals in the country, and it’s their hard work and their integrity which we protect.
We represent construction professionals in many different situations, but many of our clients are contractors or material suppliers who have fully performed under some type of contract but another party failed to pay them. Other clients look to us to help them with their contract drafting and negotiation or to resolve disputes. Regardless, it is an honor to be a trusted advisor to these wonderful people.
Whether we represent a large Fortune 500 company or a local, mom-and-pop contractor, we understand that it is about the people–it’s about relationships, it’s about integrity, and it’s about hard work. We are grateful that so many of our clients share the same values as we do. In this day, finding quality construction professionals can be difficult, but we have the honor of working with some of the best!
As we look back every year, it is natural to reflect upon the lessons and changes which have occurred. It is especially appropriate this year as 2014 brought many positive changes to our firm and business. To recap just a few of our highlights from the year:
- Our client base has almost doubled!
- We filed scores of Georgia materialmen’s liens and payment bond claims
- We were featured speakers at the AGC Georgia’s First Construction Forum and Marketplace
- Mark was a co-author of the book Construction Subcontracting, A Comprehensive Legal and Practical Guide which was published this past spring by the Forum on the Construction Industry a part of the American Bar Association
- We’ve hired a new construction and environmental lawyer (who will be joining us in January 2015)
- We published the 28-page booklet entitled Georgia Material Supplier Collection Handbook
- We presented “Construction Contracts 101″ for a continuing education seminar for architects and engineers
- We were asked to speak at a roundtable sponsored by the Construction Suppliers’ Association
- We moderated a telephone conference for a nationwide construction lawyer’s group on emerging trends in construction payment issues
- Christopher was nominated for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year
- Mark was Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Vashti Center (2d year)
- Mark was approved to teach an undergraduate class on Construction Law for spring 2015 at Thomas University
- Mark was asked to lead a Webinar on construction contract basics for the Cabinet Makers’ Association
- The Cobb Law Group continues to be a leader in Georgia’s Subcontractor Law
2014 was a great year, but our expectations for 2015 are even higher! Thanks to a tremendous and loyal client base, great lawyers and staff who are active in their communities, and several surprises in the pipeline, we are confident that the coming year will be even better!
Construction projects are all about deadlines–30 days, 60 days, 90 days…..You’re always calculating when you will start or complete your work during a project.
And, have you ever finished a project and when payment is slow, you want to know the deadline before your ability to file a payment bond or materialmen’s lien expires? Affidavits of Nonpayment, for example, must be filed within 60 days from the date of your Georgia lien waiver, but your construction lien must be filed within 90 days of the last day you were on the job.
Well, there’s no need to keep counting out on your fingers or searching for the calendar you keep misplacing–Cobb Law Group has created a calendar wheel for this very thing, and as a small thank you, we will drop one in the mail to you for FREE!! It’s so easy, just
1. “Like” Cobb Law Group on Facebook;
2. Leave a comment on the blog with a topic you would like for us to write about in a future blog article or tell us how you found us; and
3. E-mail us your mailing address firstname.lastname@example.org
No more scrambling around or being lazy about those deadlines–we use ours all the time!
Giveaway ends when supplies run-out!
The Construction Suppliers Association (CSA) is a trade association working for–and advocating on behalf of–independent material suppliers throughout Georgia and Alabama. According to its website, “The association serves as the voice of its members to state and federal government. CSA also provides a wide range of educational and cost-saving programs to businesses in the building materials industry.”
“Since the majority of our clients are construction suppliers, we thought that participating in a group such as the CSA would be a natural fit,” says Cobb Law Group’s founder Mark Cobb. “Almost daily, we prepare and file liens and payment bond claims throughout the state of Georgia; in addition we offer a full-range of legal services to our subcontractor and supplier clients including business law, contract review, construction collections, and construction litigation. We are hopeful that we will continue to build our practice and improve our skills by becoming a part of this great trade association.”
Since 1936, the Construction Suppliers Association has worked tirelessly to educate suppliers, to work for sound industry legislation and to improve the building supply economy. The construction lawyers at the Cobb Law Group look forward to working with the Association in each of these areas. According to Cobb, education is a great benefit to every material supplier. “For example,” he offers, “Georgia materialmen have advantageous lien rights in Georgia, but they must understand the complexities and be diligent in preserving and enforcing their rights.”
In fact, as readers of our blog already know, Mark Cobb is a contributor (the only Georgia construction lawyer!) to a new book to be published by the American Bar Association on Subcontractor Law. It will be the first book to be printed which focuses exclusively on this unique area of law. As one of the few subcontractor law and material supplier law attorneys in Georgia, Cobb understands the needs of the industry, and he welcomes opportunities such as those offered by the CSA to meet other industry professionals.
To learn more about the Construction Suppliers Association and its membership opportunities, please click here – – >
by Mark Cobb
We are excited to report that earlier this week, Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 434 into law thereby amending our state’s lien statute to allow lien claimants to include the amount due and owing the lien claimant under the terms of an express or implied contract, subcontract, or purchase order as well as interest on the past due balance. We’ve written more extensively about the 2013 amendment to Georgia’s lien laws, but we wanted to follow-up with our readers and let you know that the bill is now law. Thank you Gov. Deal.
If you have any questions regarding the changes to our state’s lien laws or if you have any other questions regarding construction liens, payment bonds, Miller Act claims or construction contracting in Georgia, please contact the lawyers at the Cobb Law Group by email or call us at (866) 960-9539 today!
(UPDATED MAY 9, 2013) GOVERNOR SIGNED HB 434 INTO LAW; click here for more information!
(UPDATED APRIL 10, 2013) TO SEE THE LATEST INFORMATION ON THE PENDING CHANGES TO GEORGIA’S LIEN LAWS, PLEASE SEE OUR FOLLOW-UP BLOG ENTRY BY CLICKING HERE.
As the current session of the Georgia legislature winds down, we want to send our kudos to Rep. Tom Weldon, Wendell Willard and Mike Jacobs for supporting HB 434 which attempts to amend Georgia’s Mechanic’s and Materialmen’s Lien Law. The proposed amendment will allow Georgia’s contractors, specialty subcontractors and material suppliers to specifically include pre-judgment interest, General Condition Costs and other sums due under their contract as lienable items. This proposed bill is in direct response to a recent court decision which negatively impacted construction professionals by excluding General Condition Costs as a lienable item in Georgia.
Specifically, HB 434 amends O.C.G.A. Section 44-14-361 to include the following specially crafted language for new subsection (c):
(c) Each special lien specified in subsection (a) of this Code section shall include:
(1) The amount due and owing the lien claimant under the terms of its contract, subcontract, or purchase order; or
(2) In the absence of a contract, subcontract, or purchase order, the unpaid value of the labor, materials, and services provided by the lien claimant for the improvement of the real estate. Such lien shall include interest on the principal amount due in accordance with applicable law.
To see a copy of HB 343, click here. Currently, the bill is with the Senate Judiciary Committee. We will keep you informed as this issue progresses.
by Mark A. Cobb
Our construction law colleagues at Kaplin Stewart maintain a very good Pennsylvania construction law blog, and a recent posting by them gives a very important warning to architects, engineers and builders who consider cutting corners to save money. Apparently, an owner/designer of luxury house in Hollywood Hills, California has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after his house caught fire resulting in the death of a firefighter. The builder’s negligent construction technique has been alleged as the proximate cause of the fireman’s tragic death.
The home’s owner, who was also the designer and general contractor, was building the California house in order to shoot the television show “Germany’s Next Top Model”. During the building process, however, he apparently (i) lied about his intentions to install fireplaces in his new home and, subsequently, (ii) used fireplaces designed exclusively for exterior use for his interior. The misappropriated fireplaces, consequently, caused the fire, and, tragically, a fireman was killed trying to put out the inferno.
Los Angeles County prosecutors allege that “grossly negligent construction” led to the fire and the firefighter’s death. Thus, they decided to prosecute the builder/owner.
The warnings conjured by these events are obvious, but they bear repeating.
First, defective construction can harm and even kill innocent people. In this case, a brave firefighter’s life was lost unnecessarily, and this loss, no doubt, impacts the firefighter’s family and friends tremendously. There are too many similar scenarios where defective building techniques have lead to collapses, cave-ins, fires, floods, and other calamities.
Second, efforts to cut-corners and save money at the beginning of a project frequently result in significant damages down the road. In this case, the property has been destroyed, the shooting location of the tv series has been changed, and, the owner/builder faces serious criminal charges and the incumbent attorneys fees surrounding his defense. In addition, the owner may face civil damages in the event that the fireman’s family pursues their own claim against him.
Third, products have individual and specific uses. Do not misuse your construction materials. Do not skimp on quality or quantity if you want to have a building with integrity.
Fourth, do not lie or mislead building inspectors. Although many people quickly tire of government involvement and fees, the inspector’s job is ultimately to ensure safety and quality. This is particularly important in historic states like Georgia. We have many historic houses from the antebellum and Victorian eras, and, thankfully, there are many Georgia communities where these architectural treasures are cherished and restored. There are times, however, when an inspector’s goal and a preservationist’s goal differ, and an inspector might be shown an allegedly completed project which, subsequently, gets changed after the inspector’s departure. Be careful! And, know that you might be liable for these subsequent alterations.
Please, build safely and responsibly.
We are pleased to let our readers know that The Thomasville Townie named our Georgia Construction, Lien & Bond Law blog as one of its favorite local blogs. Thanks Townie!
For those of you who don’t know, The Thomasville Townie is our community’s patron saint of all things good about Thomasville, Georgia. The Townie keeps the pulse of our historic town, keeping all of the citizenry informed of upcoming events, local economic development, historical and cultural information as well as throwing out braining-storming ideas that hope to enrich all of our lives. We are very fortunate to have The Townie as a voice in our community!
The Townie maintains a runners pace with a website and non-stop facebook posts about all the exciting activities in our slice of Georgia. Recently, The Townie expanded its electronic reach to include a print newspaper published every Friday; this great new publication is distributed free to readers at some of our area’s best retail and restaurant locations (make sure you pick up your copies). In addition to articles, events and advertising, there are usually proverbs about wisdom and life, fun facts, and local glamour.
Imagine our delight and surprise when reading the current edition last Friday evening when we saw a highlighted box listing “Local Bloggers We Love”; among the 6 terrific blogs listed was our blog–how wonderful! It’s particularly nice because the other blogs, as you can imagine are wonderful, lush blogs about local culture and fun stuff about Thomasville–admittedly, our blog is dryer and not as universally applicable as the other blogs. Regardless, it’s an honor to be included in such an august list.
We’ll try our best to continue to bring our readers everything pertinent about construction law, materialmen’s liens and payment bonds in Georgia! In addition, we highly recommend the other blogs on the list, and we invite you to check them out for yourselves:
by Mark A. Cobb
In two previous blog installments (click here for Part I, click here for Part II, click here for Part IV, click here for Park V on remedies and defaults) we began a discussion on key issues in joint venture agreements. Although, our comments are not limited to construction contracting in Georgia, our construction attorneys are experienced in drafting and negotiating joint venue contracts and, now, we continue our series with a discussion on key issues related to the internal management of a joint venture.
There are, frequently, three components to the internal management of a joint venture:
1. the Executive Committee;
2. the Joint Venture Management Team; and/or
3. the Project Manager.
JV Executive Committee: Every joint venture agreement needs an Executive Committee which has the final word on management issues; typically, the Executive Committee is comprised of a set number of representatives appointed by each party to the joint venture agreement.
JV Executive Committee Voting: Although it may not always be possible, the goal of the Executive Committee should be to make all decisions unanimous. In the absence of unanimity, committee votes are usually weighted by the percentage interest of each participant. Thus, if there are two joint venturers each with a fifty percent interest in the joint venture, you need to make certain that a mechanism is built into your document to prevent deadlocks on issues. Many JV agreements wisely set forth a list of certain actions which require unanimous consent of the committee members.
Executive Committee Duties: Although their duties vary on each specific project, one essential aspect of the Executive Committee is the overseeing of the distribution of profits (or other assets upon termination); although the Executive Committee members are not typically involved in the day-to-day running of the venue, the must stay up-to-date on the project and its progress.
Joint Venture Management Team: The management team consists of specific individuals from each of the venture participants, and they are closer to the trenches than the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee has oversight of the management team, but the management team has direct charge and supervision of the performance (and the completion) of the project! They should periodically provide the Executive Committee with financial reporting and cost accounting and pertinent tax matters.
Project Manager: The project manager is usually identified in the joint venture agreement, but he or she is always subject to replacement by the Executive Committee; similarly, the project manager is usually an individual, but there are companies which specialize in project management, and they may be hired for this position. Needless to say, the Project Manager has the most hands-on duties as it related to the construction performance and issues; thus, his duties are frequently detailed in the joint venture agreement and may include the following:
- responsibility for carrying out the work
- budget preparation
- contact with the project owner; and
- some overlap with the management team duties.
Georgia contractors regularly utilize the benefits of joint ventures to meet the demands of specific projects; prior to entering into a joint venture, however, it is vital to consult an experience Georgia construction contracts attorney. If you have any questions about your next joint venture agreement, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Also, please leave us a comment about management issues you have encountered in your joint ventures with others!