Florida Construction Industry Law Blog



Florida Statute Chapter 558: Changes Are Brewing

By: James O. Birr, III

Florida Statute Chapter 558 was adopted to serve as an alternative method to resolve construction and design disputes in order to reduce the need for litigation, while protecting the rights of property owners. While the nuances of Florida Statute Chapter 558 are outside the focus of this post, there are some proposed changes making their way through the Florida legislature. See House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 418. These changes include specific information to be included in the notice of claim, frivolous claims, sanctions, and the exchange of documents. Read Full Post

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General Contractors May Seek Treble Damages Against Unlicensed Subcontractors Pursuant to Section 768.0425, Florida Statutes

In Florida, unlicensed contracting is a crime. Florida Statutes provide special civil remedies for those harmed by unlicensed contracting. For instance, Section 768.0425 provides that a consumer harmed by an unlicensed contractor is entitled to treble damages and attorney’s fees. These are extreme remedies intended to punish unlicensed contractors. We typically think of a homeowner as the “consumer” in this context. However, a general contractor is likewise entitled to the civil remedies of §768.0425 if the contractor is harmed by its unlicensed subcontractor. Home Construction Management, LLC v. Comet, Inc., 125 So.3d 221 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013). Read Full Post

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Contingent Payment Provisions in Florida Construction Contracts

By: James O. Birr, III

One of the most important provisions in any construction contract, or any contract for that matter, is the payment provision. Before signing the contract, parties must understand how and when they get paid and, in turn, when they are required to make payment. One way parties, particularly contractors, attempt to handle payment uncertainties is to include contingent payment provisions or time of payment provisions in their construction contracts. These provisions are commonly referred to as pay-if-paid and pay-when-paid provisions and are enforceable in Florida. While these provisions sound the same, they operate very differently and, as such, may have unintended consequences for the parties. Read Full Post

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Fixing or Addressing Mistakes in Public Construction Contract Bids

By: Charles B. Jimerson, Esq.

What happens if you make a mistake in your bid response and need to correct it? This is a common circumstance in practice because the timing of solicitations and responses creates a pressure packed situation. Often subcontractor pricing is received and updated until the very last moments before a response is due. This often causes mistakes, both in the form and in the substance of bids submitted. It is not unusual for contractors to make mistakes in their bids, some resulting from mathematical errors, some from typographical miscues, while still others may be based upon errors in judgment or the failure to conduct a proper site investigation prior to bidding. Mistakes happen quite regularly and reasons for mistakes are abundant. If you realize that you have made a mistake in your bid or proposal prior to the bid opening date and time, you should immediately contact the agency to see if you may withdraw your bid, correct it and resubmit prior to the bid opening date and time, or in the alternative whether you may submit a sealed statement clarifying the error before the bid opening date and time. This blog post deals with what happens in Florida when you aren’t able to correct your mistake in public construction contract bidding. Read Full Post

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The Bidding Process for Public Construction Contracts In Florida

By: Charles B. Jimerson, Esq. & Kellie Elliott

For many small and mid-size contractors, the award of a single public contract can make or break their business. Because of this, it is important for a contractor to know and understand the requirements and processes involved when bidding on a public construction contract. A contractor must first make sure the contract is worth the time and money spent in preforming the contract. Knowing whether you, as a contractor, can perform the contract and provide all requested information is vital in determining whether you should bid on a specified contract. In addition, meeting specified deadlines is extremely important for the response to be accepted. In order for a contractor to navigate this bidding process, knowledge of the process is elemental. Read Full Post

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Owner’s Partial Use of the Property Does Not Preclude Loss of Use Damages in Construction Defects Cases

Owner’s Partial Use of the Property Does Not Preclude Loss of Use Damages in Construction Defects Cases

By Austin B. Calhoun, Esq.

Under Florida law, a property owner may be entitled to “loss of use” damages if construction delay or defects deprive the owner of use of the property. Loss of use damages are measured by the reasonable rental value of the property. These rules raise some questions. For instance, can an owner claim “loss of use” for the period that owner refuses to inhabit the property while construction defects are being repaired? What if owner partially uses the property during such time? These questions were addressed in a recent Florida Third District Court of Appeals case: Gonzalez v. Barrenechea, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 647 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 21, 2015). This blog examines the Gonzalez case and the answers provided therein. Read Full Post

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Construction Industry Licensing Board Part III – Declaratory Statements

By Christopher M. Cobb, Esquire

Many Florida contractors and license holders have a general understanding of the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (“CILB”), but like many quasi-judicial bodies, it can remain a mystery to those who practice and appear in front of the CILB. This post will cover some specific information regarding petitions for declaratory statements that license holders and his/her attorney should know before they appear in front of the CILB. Read Full Post

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Open and Obvious Defense In Construction Projects: It’s Not Just for Contractors

By: James O. Birr, III, Esq.

Contractors, architects, engineers, and other design professionals must be aware of the “open and obvious” defense applicable to their work in connection with construction projects. This defense is sometimes referred to as the Slavin doctrine. The Slavin doctrine was created to limit a contractor’s liability to third persons. However, Florida courts also apply this defense to design professionals. Transportation Engineering, Inc. v. Cruz; see also Jesse McIntosh v. Progressive Design and Engineering, Inc., et al. (professional not liable for accident because defect was patent and owner accepted design). Read Full Post

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Accountability for Building Code Violations in Florida

By Christopher M. Cobb

Section 553.781, Florida Statutes, provides a measure to require the design professionals and contractors to comply with the Building Code. The Legislature found that accountability for work performed by design professionals and contractors is the key to strong and consistent compliance with the Florida Building Code and, therefore, protection of the public health, safety, and welfare was required. The legislature enacted 553.781 to provide such accountability. Read Full Post

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Acceleration of Debt in Mortgage Foreclosures: Beware of the Statute of Limitations

By: James O. Birr, III

Mortgage foreclosures in Florida took an interesting twist in December 2014, due to the recent decision in Deutsche Bank Trust Company, et al. v. Beauvais, et al. This decision effects the time period for bringing foreclosure claims in the event of acceleration and a prior dismissal of a foreclosure lawsuit. Read Full Post

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