Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category

Mediation! New Service Available at Wolfe Law

Seth J. Smiley, partner at Wolfe Law Group, LLC and author of is now a formally trained mediator. New Orleans just hosted the AAAU’s (American Arbitration Association University), Essential Skills for the New Mediator workshop in downtown, hosted by Neil Carmichael.

Why would parties want to mediate a dispute instead of going to court? That answer is easy, yet has many factors. The most important are that mediation is less expensive and much more efficient compared to litigation. But the most important factor is that the parties control their own outcome, rather than a group of strangers (jury).

So if you are in a dispute and are looking for an economical, logical and swift conclusion that is mutually agreeable between you and your adversary, then mediation may be just what you are looking for. Contact the Wolfe Law Group, LLC for more details.

Posted in:     About Our Services, Arbitration & ADR, Business Matters, California, Collections, Construction News, Disputes, Green Building, Insurance, Litigation, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington  /  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   /   1 Comment

Can Construction Estimating Software Help You Win Bids?

Here at, I often get industry experts who would like my readers to hear their opinions or help spread the word on what is going on in the construction industry. Software Adviceis a company who helps those in selected industries choose the best software for the business. Statistics are always a great way to show if what you are doing is correct and who all it is affecting. Below is a write up from Derek Singleton at Software Advice regarding its Construction Estimating survey. The idea of estimating is to win bids at a price that will make money for the construction company. Software Advice surveyed the industry and their findings are indicated below:

Guest Post: Derek Singleton, ERP Analyst, Software Advice

“At Software Advice, we spend a lot of time reviewing construction software of every variety. While we’re well-versed in the promised benefits of various systems, we’re always interested to know whether those benefits are realized by companies. Toward that end, we decided to survey the construction estimating industry to find out whether estimating software actually helps companies win bids.

To get responses, we enlisted the help of everyone from construction bloggers to LinkedIn group admins and construction associations. Ultimately, we came up with a set of benchmark findings that will allow estimators to compare themselves against industry standards.

More than 100 companies responded to the survey and shared their thoughts on how to effectively estimate. The companies that responded to the survey represent a variety of trades and company sizes.

While the types and sizes of construction companies participating in the survey varied, there were a few commonalities between companies and how they estimated their jobs. For instance, while the jury is still out as to whether spreadsheets are a good method of estimating, a majority of companies that use an estimating system found that the software helped them perform better estimates.

Of course, as one participant noted, it’s possible that the people who use estimating software are more meticulous in their data entry by nature. However the strong correlation between estimating software and effectiveness suggests that having an automated system at hand improves your ability to estimate.

There were also some interesting findings about how accurate your estimating data is and the method used. As an example, participants that use an estimating program reported that they underbid projects only 5 percent of the time. Meanwhile, companies that rely on spreadsheets report that they underbid roughly 15 percent of the time.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the results of our survey, please visit our website where we are hosting the results at: 2012 ConstructionEstimatingBenchmarkReport.

It’d be great if you can share your thoughts on whether these findings match your own experience as well. Also, if you have a tip to offer others in the industry, please share that as well.”

Posted in:     Bidding, California, Construction Contracts, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington  /  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   /   2 Comments

Around The Web: Housing Bubble On The Rise Again?

Back in 2008, along with major sections of the U.S. economy, the U.S. housing market tanked. This was a terrible time for home builders and most contractors in the industry. There was a ripple effect that was felt industry wide. Signs of the the rebound have been few and far between. We are now one quarter deep into 2012 and there are a few positive signs that the end of the drought may be near.

Just last week CNN reported very good numbers for building permits nation wide. According to the article, new home building permits are up from month to month and a large amount from this time last year. There is also an increase in the number of new apartment / condo permits that are being requested nationwide. The article stated that major contractors and home suppliers are seeing increases in stock value and revenue stream.  Some sites like published a Reuters article stating that there is a “housing comeback.”

A wide range of cities nation wide are reporting similar findings, such as Portland, Oregon and Dayton, Ohio. If this trend keeps up there is a good chance that the housing market will rebound and home sales will start to improve.

Posted in:     Around The Web, California, Construction News, Federal, Law Changes & Updates, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington  /  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,   /   Leave a comment

Oregon Supreme Court Affirms Abraham And Dances With Economic Loss Rule

Over the past six months, we’ve posted about an Oregon case making its way up the court’s tiers: Abraham v. T. Henry Construction, Inc.

The case is important because it carved an exception to the economic loss rule, which typically prohibits a tort claim between contracting parties when the claims arises out of a failure to perform contractual obligations. In Abraham, a plaintiff in a construction defect case was allowed to sue its builder for negligence for failing to comply with the building codes. This despite the builder’s contractual obligation to comply with the building codes.

The Oregon Supreme Court accepted review at the Abraham decision at the dawn of this year, and just last week issued an opinion affirming it. An interesting quote explains the court’s conclusion:

[W]e agree with plaintiffs that…earlier cases support the conclusion that common law negligence principles apply — notwithstanding a contractual relationship — as long as the property damage for which the plaintiff seeks recovery was a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct. Thus, a negligence claim for personal injury or property damage that would exist in the absence of a contract will continue to exist unless the parties define their respective obligations and remedies in the contract to limit or foreclose such a claim. Parties may limit tort remedies by defining their obligations in such a way that the common-law standard of care has been supplanted…or, in some circumstances, by contractually limiting or specifying available remedies

Does this undermine the distinction between contract and tort and permit every breach of contract to be brought as a tort claim?  Or in other words, completely undermine the economic loss rule?  The Oregon Supreme Court digresses here with an example of why it’s decision is limited and does not undermine the ELR:

An example will help demonstrate the difference between actions taken in the performance of a contract that can be the basis for a contract claim only, and those that may also provide a basis for a tort claim. If an individual and a contractor enter into a contract to build a house, which provides that the contractor will install only copper pipe, but the contractor installs PVC pipe instead (assuming both kinds of pipe comply with the building code and the use of either would be consistent with the standard of care expected of contractors), that failure would be a breach of contract only. That is so because the contract defined the contractor’s obligation to use a particular material (and no other), which the contractor then failed to do…If the failure to install the copper pipe caused a reduction in the value of the house, the plaintiff would be able to recover that amount in an action for breach of contract. That would be a claim that, as this court stated in Georgetown, “is based solely on a breach of a provision in the contract[.]”

On the other hand, if the contractor installed the PVC pipe in a defective manner and those pipes therefore leaked, causing property damage to the house, the homeowner would have claims in both contract and tort. The homeowner could recover in contract both for the failure to install copper pipe and for the failure to perform the contract in a reasonably skillful manner.  The homeowner also would have a tort claim for property damage to the house caused by the leaking pipes if the homeowner could prove that the contractor’s failure to meet the standard of care caused the property damage. In those circumstances, the obligation to install copper instead of PVC pipe is purely contractual; the manner of installing the pipe, however, implicates both contract and tort because of the foreseeable risk of property damage that can result from improperly installed pipes.

Read the Oregon Supreme Court’s full opinion online by clicking here.

Posted in:     Oregon  /  Tags: , , ,   /   1 Comment

Oregon Case Allowing Building Code Negligence Claim Under Review

A few months ago, we wrote about an appeals decision in Oregon that carved an exception to the economic loss rule in a construction defect case, allowing a plaintiff to sue for negligence when a builder doesn’t comply with building codes.

That opinion - Abraham v. T. Henry Construction, Inc., 230 Or.App. 564 (2009) – has been sent to the Oregon Supreme Court for review, and oral arguments were heard last month. You can read the Oregon Supreme Court’s media release here. The media release does a great job of outlining the issues at stake in the case.

The two issues of particular interest to the state’s application of the economic loss rule are identified in the media release as so:

  1. If a property owner alleges that his or her contractor violated the “building code,” whether the property owner has a negligence claim when the contract between the parties expressly required the contractor to follow all building codes.
  2. Whether the Oregon Residential Building Code sets forth a standard of care independent from the contract between a property owner and a contractor or subcontractor, and thus permits imposition of negligence liability, when the parties’ contract expressly requires compliance with all building codes.

Stay tuned at the Construction Law Monitor, as we’ll monitor the outcome of this case.

Posted in:     Building Codes, Oregon  /  Tags: , , ,   /   1 Comment