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Affordable Housing development

What is a construction lawyer and why hire one?

Posted on February 09, 2018, by Jo Cook

Are you about to start a build project such as an extension or new build, or refurbishment of an existing premises? Jo Cook, construction lawyer at Coodes Solicitors, outlines what a construction lawyer does and the benefit of hiring one.

 What is a construction lawyer?

A construction lawyer is a specialist contract lawyer who advises on all construction related contracts such as:

  • The contract between the contractor and the client. This can be an industry standard contract such as JCT (Joint Contract Tribunal contracts) or a bespoke contract
  • The appointment of professionals such as architects, engineers, project managers and QS. Again this can be an industry standard document such as RIBA or bespoke
  • Contracts between the main contractor and the subcontractors
  • All other construction documents such as collateral warranties, guarantees, letters of intent and bonds

Why have I never heard of a construction lawyer?

Construction lawyers are a rare breed in Cornwall. In fact, I am the only one permanently based here.  I trained and practiced in London for over ten years before relocating to Cornwall.

Why hire a construction lawyer?

Everyone is optimistic at the start of a build project and positive that nothing will go wrong.  Unfortunately that is not always the case. Projects tend to overrun and/or end up costing more than you think. This can apply even if you have what you thought was a fixed price build contract.  I can advise you on:

  • The contents of your contracts to avoid any nasty shocks
  • The need to have written contracts with all those you engage on a build project
  • The terms of those appointments and contracts to ensure you are protected against unnecessary risks, delays and spiralling costs.

What should go into your construction contract?

Having a robust contract in place will give you protection and let you know where you stand on matters such as:

  • How often you have to make a payment
  • Who is signing off each stage of the works and how much the contractor should be paid at each stage
  • Is there a retention? This means money being withheld from the contractor until the project has been completed and all snagging carried out
  • What limits are on the contractor and/or professionals’ liability
  • What insurances you would expect the contractor and professionals to maintain
  • How much the project will cost and how changes will be priced
  • When the project is due to be completed

Whatever the nature of your build, a construction lawyer is a necessity, not a luxury, and should save you stress, money and a great deal of time.

For more information or advice contact Jo Cook, construction lawyer in the Corporate and Commercial team at Coodes Solicitors on 0800 3283282 or jo.cook@coodes.co.uk