How to Hire a Lawyer for Your Residential Construction Firm
Does your residential construction firm need a lawyer? The answer is yes.
Whether you think lawyers are a valuable resource or a necessary evil, you should know how to hire one for your residential construction firm. Construction laws and regulations are too often unnecessarily complex, no matter which country you are in. Litigation can happen unexpectedly. You may need to defend against claims or assert your own company’s rights. In situations like these, trying to hire a lawyer by simply picking one at random in the phone book is risky, to say the least.
Residential Construction Complexity
The first thing to understand is why investing in a lawyer specializing in construction is worth the price. A generalist is unlikely to know about the diverse range of contracts and activities that construction professionals deal with on a regular basis. Contractors must work with architects, designers, realtors and property agents, suppliers, lenders, insurers, and government entities, and even more entities in a simple contract process. And of course there is the customer, who is increasingly well-protected by the law when residential home construction and sales are involved. All of these moving parts then multiply the chance of a problem – a legal problem – occurring.
First, Find a Lawyer Specializing in Construction
You can search on the web for construction lawyers, but you’ll need to be pretty savvy with your long-tail search terms. In other words, you will have to combine the relevant term for your country with information about your location.
If your residential construction business is in London, for example, a legal resource in Los Angeles is unlikely to be of much use. You may have better luck asking your local chamber of commerce. Alternatively, friends and acquaintances in the construction business may have construction lawyer contacts you can investigate.
Select the Lawyer that Suits You
Getting leads on lawyers that might provide good specialist construction counsel is only half the battle. You also need to find a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable about working. Much of this is a matter of personality and therefore subjective. Industry colleagues may recommend a lawyer because the ‘chemistry’ worked for them. You will only know if the same thing can happen for you by meeting the lawyer and talking about the work or case to be handled.
Avoid Crunch Situations When Hiring
Choosing a lawyer when the pressure is on can be difficult. If a customer has already taken legal action because of alleged flaws or non-compliance with contractual agreements, you may end up acting in haste and repenting at leisure. Think about hiring the services of a construction lawyer before any crisis situation occurs. That allows you to make a cooler, more level-headed evaluation about the legal professional you choose. Seeking legal advice before signing a contract or submitting a bid is also good insurance against possible project delays and cost overruns that could otherwise wreck your profitability.
Look for Constructive Advice as Well as Damage Control
A good lawyer for your residential construction firm will add value when things are running smoothly too.
He or she will point out potential construction project risk and put a money value on your liability if things were to go wrong. Your specialist lawyer should also be able to help you identify the most advantageous terms for your company in a contract, while warning you off any actions that could be construed as predatory or ‘sharp practice’ in the residential market. By involving your lawyer like this, you also give him or her greater opportunity to get to know your business, and to be even more efficient and effective if conflictual situations arise.