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Los Angeles California Construction Law Blog

Battle continues between city, developer over Bel-Air mansion

A mansion in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles continues to be the subject of both criminal and civil legal action as the city and neighbors spar with the developer.

The developer, a prominent LA resident, began building the 30,000-square-foot residence more than five years ago. Since then, the city has made demands that he tear down parts of the still-unfinished property, contending it violates some city codes and isn't safe.

Construction defects lead to code violations

If you are looking to purchase a home here in Los Angeles, it is vital that you choose a property that is in compliance with all local, state and federal building codes. Any violations of the codes should be apparent during the pre-purchase inspection by an independent party whom you hire.

But, unfortunately, inspectors are fallible humans capable of missing dangerous lapses. Some might even be on the take and be susceptible to bribes or kickbacks from shady developers who encourage them to look the other way if they encounter violations of the safety codes.

Understanding COBRA coverage

For most in Los Angeles, access to health insurance comes through their an association with a private company (either through direct employment or being the covered beneficiary of an employee). Indeed, according to information shared bythe U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2018 nearly 68 percent of Americans were covered by a private health insurance plan. What happens, then, when such an association ends? Do an employee (as well as their beneficiaries) immediately cease to be eligible for coverage under the group health plan that the company sponsors? 

Not according to the provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This is federal legislation that allows people to retain insurance coverage through a company that they no longer have any ties to for a specified period of time. This law was specifically meant to ensure that those who ceased to be eligible for insurance through an employer remained covered until they were able to enroll in a new plan. 

Assessing the risks and disadvantages of construction disputes

There are always those mysterious construction projects in California that appear to be moving along consistently and then one day it seems as though all progress has been stopped. Overtime materials sit untouched and the environment begins to wreak its havoc on the partially-completed project turning into an eyesore. Often, these types of failed projects happen because of ineffective planning, inadequate financing or poor implementation of critical contractual agreements. 

According to Linkedin, there are a few reasons why project delays or abandonment may happen. These include the following reasons: 

  • Partway through a project's completion, the scope of the project is altered so significantly that there are inadequate finances, resources or even interest from investors to continue its completion. 
  • There were critical errors made in the design process that were not discovered until construction was underway. Removal or modification of the errors can set a project back significantly or even derail it for good. 
  • Inadequate time was taken in analyzing a project's complexity and preparing to have the appropriate commitment of time, manpower and financial support.

Having evidence can help you in a construction dispute

Working with fellow construction professionals in California can be exciting and present unique opportunities to collaborate on projects that will bring all participants success. To guarantee that your experiences working with other professionals are both beneficial and effective, a contract is critical to have. At Castro & Associates, we value the chance to help professionals like you to protect their most important assets. 

While having a contract is important, it can do little good if it is missing crucial clauses or if it is enforced improperly. A poorly written contract can negatively impact your project and leave participants feeling confused and frustrated. Fortunately, you can implement preventative measures to keep discord from happening in the relationships you are working to create with other construction professionals. 

Taking action after a bad flooring installation by subcontractors

As a developer, residential construction company or architect, you have a reputation that brings clients to you and helps you build your career. Unfortunately, the subcontractors and suppliers you work with can have a direct, negative impact on customer satisfaction and your overall business reputation.

Construction defects, particularly in areas that are perceived as high-value and high-cost, such as flooring, could lead to a loss of business or serious damage to your credibility and reputation as a professional.

What is the cause of disputes in the construction industry?

The construction industry in California is an integral part of the economy and incorporates the involvement of several entities that work together to complete complex projects and buildings. Without contracts in place to fortify agreements and clarify details of your involvement with other construction professionals, you are at a much higher risk of experiencing debilitating disagreements. 

In your efforts to strengthen your contracts and create customized agreements that adhere to the unique risks of the projects you are involved in; you can reduce the chances that a dispute will prevent you from achieving a successful output. According to Construction Executive, some of the most common reasons why you may experience a dispute include when there are untimely delays with no real reason for their occurrence. Another reason is if the other party is claiming you have failed to uphold an agreement, but they do not have sufficient evidence to support their claim.  If no one is actively enforcing the contract or if you or the other party are misinterpreting the meaning of specific clauses, both of those factors could set the foundation for a dispute later on. 

Construction company sues schools district over unpaid work

There are many complexities that can go into managing a large construction project in Los Angeles, yet most might assume that the payment of the parties involved would not be one of them. Indeed, such a process might seem fairly simple: a contractor completes the work it has promised to do as per the terms of the agreement, and the beneficiary of the work pays for them. Yet in many cases, matters may not be that simple. One side of a contract may feel that it is justified in withholding payment, while the other might argue that it has strictly adhered to its terms of the arrangement. 

A recent lawsuit in South Carolina sees one side voicing the latter, while the other has remained silent on the matter. A Georgia-based construction company claims that it has completed the work that it was contracted to due for a local school district in building a new performing arts school, yet says it is still owed close to $6 million by the district. In its lawsuit, the company claims that the district asked that the terms of their contract be modified multiple times, and that it was uncooperative during the entire process, causing the project to suffer delays. Still, the company claims to have completed the work according to the district's specifications. Yet when the district brought in an outside firm to manage the project, the construction company's representatives claim they stopped receiving payments

What to know about a builder warranty

If you are buying a new home in California, there is a good chance it is under builder warranty. While this may sound great, it is important to understand the limitations of this type of warranty, such as what it covers and the length of the warranty. 

According to Realtor.com, a builder warranty is different from a home warranty. The home buyer is the one who purchases a home warranty, and it covers not only new homes but also older ones. This is the type of warranty that covers household systems and appliances, while a builder warranty covers the workmanship and materials of the home. A warranty will vary from one builder to another, but common coverages include:

  • Foundation, floors, siding and roofing
  • HVAC, plumbing, electrical and septic systems
  • Insulation
  • Windows, doors and glass
  • Landscaping
  • Carpentry 

Make sure your contractor is bonded, licensed and insured

Construction issues in California are common, and to prevent disruptions or financial loss, it is important that construction companies and contractors have the proper protections against liability. When a company says it is bonded, licensed and insured, this shows they have gone through the regulatory hoops. This also makes them more credible, especially for larger projects. 

According to The Chron, there are numerous licenses a contractor or construction company must have in order to run a business. There are professional licenses that the state approves based on certain requirements and qualifications, and there are trade licenses that contractors must have to perform certain jobs. There may also be specific licensing requirements by the city or work zones. Someone hiring for a project can look up these license numbers to find out the history of performance.

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