Secret confession time here: I *love* my Law & Order. And while I’ve been known to suffer through SVU or, God forbid, Criminal Intent, it’s the original Law & Order (with uber-cool Detective Lennie Briscoe and the always wild-eyebrow of Jack McCoy) that really makes my day.
Some clients wonder why I like to watch a legal show on television after a day of practicing law. The answer is because the real world of law is nothing like that on shown on TV. Things happen so fast and so amazingly on the show, it is fun way to wind down the day.
On Law & Order, a subpoena is issued for bank documents, and, faster than you can say, “cha-chunk”, the documents are rolling through the office. Court cases are wrapped up in neat tidy 60 minute packages (including time for discovering the real killer). The lawyers get to ask unfair questions—make self-serving testimony and arguments to the jury—and it doesn’t matter, because they are on the side of truth, justice, and the American way. Law & Order is many things, but an accurate representation of a court case, it is not.
What does this have to do with YOUR court case? Everything. Sure, you expect your construction case will be different from a “sexy” homicide case, but are you really prepared for just how different it will be? How long it will take? The delays, stalling, and prevarication the other side will be allowed? Probably not. Until now.
Over the next several weeks, I plan to walk you through a “typical” construction defect lawsuit—from the first initial phone call from the project manager that something might be amiss, to the dreaded yellow paperwork delivered by the Sheriff (if you are really lucky), the famed “courthouse steps” settlement discussions, and even the angst-producing knock on the jury room door announcing a verdict. Stay tuned for Part 1 of the new series: Law & Order: Hard Hat files, starting next Tuesday. [And Dick Wolfe, if you steal my title for your next television series, please give me credit and a cut!]
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The construction industry is undergoing a change–several states are showing positive signs of job growth. A June report released by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) indicates found that 20 states added new construction jobs. The catch, however, is the jobs that are available require highly skilled individuals.
The chart above aggregates survey data of the top five anticipated engineering and skilled labor shortages from 2,223 construction industry professionals. As you can see, engineers of all types are expected to remain in high demand.To find out what’s driving job gains in the industry, I recently caught up with AGC’s Chief Economist, Ken Simonson. In my conversation with Simonson, he highlighted three key drivers to the current trends in construction employment.
- Low vacancy rates are spurring investment in apartment complex construction.
- The acceleration of natural gas extraction is fueling related construction job growth.
- Manufacturing investment is leading to new manufacturing facility construction.
So what kinds of jobs fit well with these market drivers? Below I’ll profile a few relevant professions that are currently in demand.
Apartment Complex Construction
Apartment construction requires nearly every kind of construction trade on the job. However, there are a few particular positions that are particularly high demand.
Architects: Efficiently building an apartment complex starts at the design process. With new apartment construction increasing, architects familiar with designing multi-family residences will be in high demand.
Carpenter: Naturally, carpenters are in high demand as more complexes are built they’re needed for everything from framing to setting crown molding.
Millwork: The millwork trade is in high demand to produce the doors, crown moldings, window casings, etc. needed to finish an apartment.
Electrician: Electricians that are familiar with multi-family electrical wiring are know how to run standard power distribution to lighting and other outlets in apartments.
Natural Gas Extraction
The growth in natural gas extraction from underground shales is also supporting new construction jobs. The majority of these jobs involve heavy construction or civil engineering.
Plumbing Engineering: Natural gas extraction is complex process that involves a lot of fluid dynamics. For this reason, drilling sites typically need a plumbing engineer to help figure out how to manage the hydraulics needed to extract gas from thousands of miles below the Earth’s surface.
Civil Engineering: Of course, effectively planning these roadways requires civil engineers that can effectively plan the infrastructure of these projects.
Construction jobs are also being supported by the uptick in domestic manufacturing, which is prompting manufacturers to build new facilities in the U.S. As a result, there are two main professions that are in high demand.
Structural Engineering: Structural engineers are needed both for apartment construction and for manufacturing facility construction. These engineers need to be able to check facilities to ensure that buildings are up to code, and help amend design plans as construction is underway.
Iron work: Iron work professionals are needed to put together the large steel frames that facilities require. Within the iron work profession, welders are among the most in demand professions as certified welders are hard to find given that it can take several years to achieve certification. /
Electrician: Commercial electricians are needed when constructing a new manufacturing facility because of the need to install power and controls to motors and HVAC systems at the facility–in addition to run power distribution directly from the electrical grid.
Thanks, Derek, for your post. Please comment below, or check out Derek’s map of construction employment by state and comment there.
And, be sure to pick up your copy of “7 Critical Mistakes that Engineers & Architects make During Project Negotiation and Execution that Sabotage their Projects & Invite Litigation” by signing up for email updates on blog posts or by sending me an email at mbrumback at rl-law dot com.
Eight is the Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia. It contains many buildings that seems incomplete. Patched by a bunch of metal plates with various patterns, the square is lacking a wholesome building.
Today’s guest post is from Christopher G. Hill, lawyer, Virginia Supreme Court certified General District Court mediator and owner of the Richmond, VA firm, The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC, a LEED AP. Chris authors the Construction Law Musings blog where he discusses legal and policy issues relevant to construction professionals. Additionally, Chris is active in the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and a member of the Board of Governors for the Construction Law and Public Contracts Section of the Virginia State Bar.
First off, thanks to Melissa for this opportunity to post here at Construction Law in North Carolina. Having co-presented with her and discussed construction contracting from all perspectives, I can safely say she’s good at what she does and shares great insight here at her blog.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, I thought I’d share my thoughts as one who represents many subcontractors and general contractors on the topic of good relationships meaning good business. I am always a bit surprised at the failure of either side of the GC/Sub dynamic to act in a businesslike manner.
Remember, the General Contractor and the subs are in the boat together in many ways. They both have a job to do and, ultimately, an owner at the top of the payment food chain that is looking to get a project done on time. Ultimately, they both have an architect/engineer representing the owner that may or may not be up on the job (sorry Melissa) and may not be trained in project management. If the general and its subs aren’t “playing well in the sandbox” together, the relationships up and down the project chain get all out of whack and cause delays in completion and importantly in payment.
Another phenomenon that happens more frequently than I would like is the general contractor “burning” good subcontractors in an area through making payment (particularly final payment) difficult to receive. While this type of activity occurs on what I am sure is the minority of projects (and fully acknowledging that my practice makes me think that Murphy was an optimist) I am always flabbergasted by this sort of treatment given to a subcontractor that should be helping pull the boat.
While it is obvious that subs need to play nice with GC’s because they have the money, it may seem less obvious how the above can hurt a general contractor. The short answer (and don’t worry I won’t be going into the long one) is that burning good subs eventually means that good subs won’t work with you. Subs talk to each other. Your reputation will precede you. Eventually the economy will improve and you won’t be the only game in town. Not to mention that such actions are the stuff of which claims are made.
In short, getting along costs your local construction lawyer money because he or she doesn’t get to go to court for you. It is almost always less expensive to get along, finish the job and work out payment than to get we attorneys involved in the construction claims process.
To make a long story somewhat less long, GC’s work with the subs and subs, play nice with the GC’s. It’s the best way to a lower stress project and a higher monetary payoff.
Thanks, Chris, for your insights from the contractor’s side of things. Even if you did (politely) slam the hard-working design professionals. Reader, now it’s your turn. Share your thoughts, comments, or questions with Chris or me in the comment section, below.
Two upcoming, FREE webinars from ConsensusDocs might be of interest:
Venture to Manage Your Partners Wisely (with the ConsensusDocs 298 Joint Venture Agreement)
September 19th, 2012 at 2:00-3:30pm ET (this Wednesday; i.e., tomorrow!)
– and —
What Lurks Below? Using ConsensusDocs 246 to Get the Answer (discussing the importance of consulting agreements for geotechnical services)
September 26th, 2012 at 2:00-3:30pm ET (next Wednesday)
Registration for both webinars is here.
Do you know of upcoming seminars or other items of interest to Construction Professionals? Drop me a note so I can help spread the word.