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What is Construction Law?

Construction law involves any legal issue related to the construction of a building or other structure. Legal issues related to construction activities can arise under federal, state, or local laws. Federal statutes, such as workplace safety regulations and employment laws, can impose requirements on worksites and hiring practices. States may impose additional regulations on top of federal ones, which can range from safety and employment to environmental rules. City and county ordinances may impose additional restrictions on zoning and construction noise.

With all of the levels of government playing a role in construction regulation, legal issues can arise in a number of ways. Common construction-related legal disputes include workplace injuries and accidents, construction defects, contract issues, and problems with obtaining the proper planning or building permits.

Construction Law Terms to Know

  • Defect – A flaw in a construction plan or building that creates an unreasonable risk of harm in its normal use.
  • Mechanic's Lien – A charge or encumbrance placed on a building or a building site by a construction company to assure payment for its labor, services, or materials.
  • Contractor – One that contracts to erect or repair buildings; usually requires a license from the state or local government.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – A federal agency that governs workplace safety and health precautions.
  • American Institute of Architects – A trade organization that publishes more than 100 forms and contracts that have become the industry standard for construction contracts.

For more legal definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring a Construction Lawyer

Financial issues are some of the most common types of legal issues that can come up during a construction project. Some construction projects go over budget due to unanticipated labor or increased materials costs. Alternatively, some customers refuse to pay construction companies for a finished product that does not meet their expectations.

When these legal issues arise, construction companies and contractors have a variety of legal options, ranging from suing for breach of contract to placing a lien on the finished work. Many contractors seek legal help immediately upon notice of a possible financial dispute in order to protect all of their legal rights.

Government contracts play a large role in construction law. When bidding on a government construction project, contractors must pay close attention to the specifications of the job to ensure that they will be able to comply with any additional requirements. Because the law related to government contracts is constantly changing, many contractors bidding on government work may need legal counsel sooner than they might otherwise expect.

If you are facing a construction law issue, contact a construction lawyer immediately to protect your legal rights and explore your legal options.

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