Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

Mediation! New Service Available at Wolfe Law

Seth J. Smiley, partner at Wolfe Law Group, LLC and author of ConstructionLawMonitor.com 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 ConstructionLawMonitor.com, 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 yahoo.com 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

Washington Law Protects Contractors from Dangers of Frivolous Lien Statute

A quick word from the construction law case files:

The Court of Appeals, Division 1, out in Washington state, has refused to deem a construction lien as frivolous based upon the complexity of the construction contract at dispute. The court in SD Deacon Corp. of Washington v. Gaston Bros. Excavating, Inc., decided back in May of 2009, that the state’s “frivolous lien” statute, coded under RCW 60.04.081, requires a more in-depth analysis of factual circumstances surrounding the substance of the contract and the lien.

The court in SD Deacon further reasoned that a court can only evaluate in a frivolous lien proceeding are, by way of example, whether the lien was properly filed, signed by the proper party, properly served, and meets the statutory form requirements. Issues of substance of the lien (i.e. the contract amount, amount due or change orders) are issues which require more substantive proceedings to analyze factual circumstances.

Because the frivolous lien procedure codified in RCW 60.04.081 does not provide for such proceedings, a party seeking to extinguish a lien filing will be unsuccessful in attempting to show to the court that the lien was frivolous.

Essentially, the court’s rule is that the “lien must be so devoid of merit that the claim has no possibility of succeeding” and that “there must be findings supporting the conclusion that the lien is invalid beyond legitimate dispute.”

The Court’s ruling provides some hope for “fringe” contractors who’s claims hold some element of uncertainty, but who desperately need the security provided by a lien in order to collect payment from an uphill contractor or owner.

The frivolous lien statute was enacted to prevent fraudulent claims against contractors, by awarding successful parties attorneys fees. The ruling in the case shows that the award of fees will not be granted unless your lien fails to meet statutory form requirements.

Posted in:     Filing Requirements, Mechanics Lien, Washington  /  Tags: ,   /   Leave a comment

Bizarre Lien Foreclosure Case May Have Far-Reaching Effects in Washington

A bizarre case from the Washington Division I Court of Appeals in Diversified Wood Recycling, Inc. v. Harold Johnson, et al. may have far-reaching consequences for claimants, property owners and construction attorneys foreclosing mechanic liens.

Until the opinion was published last week, Washington lien law seemed pretty clear on two points:

  1. When you file a lien, you can name the owner or reputed owner; but when you foreclose the lien, the foreclosure must be against the actual owner; and
  2. The owner must be named a party in the foreclosure action.

Division I in Diversified Recycling finds to the contrary on both points, creating a previously non-existing tension between §60.04.141 and §60.04.171.

The decision is discussed in substantial detail on my other blog that focuses on mechanic lien laws, the Lien & Credit Journal (published by zlien).  Read the post here:  Foreclosing A Mechanic’s Lien in Washington Just Got More Confusing.

A lot of the Diversified Case has very limited applicability, as it arises out of a bizarre fact pattern. The trial judge even commented on how the situation would create a “hard to believe” bar exam question.  And because of the unique facts, it feels the trial and appeal court went out of their way to serve the ends of justice rather than allow injustice based on technicalities.

However, it will be very interesting to see what happens with this decision, and whether its appealed to the Washington Supreme Court. While Division I does not comment in their opinion about the liberal construction it affords the lien statutes, they certainly construed §60.04.141 and §60.04.171 liberally, in line with the approach in N. Coast Elect. Co. v. Ariz. Elec. Serv. (Wash. Division I. 8/23/2010) where they stated:

In the lien context…there is a strong statutory directive that “[the lien statutes]…be liberally construed to provide security for all parties intended to be protected by their provisions.” RCW 60.04.900….See, e.g. Northlake Concrete Prods., Inc. v. Wylie, 34 Wn.App. 810, 818, 663 P.2d 1380 (1983) (explaining the Legislature’s intent that “the lien laws shall be liberally construed with the view to effecting their object” meant that “when it has been determined that persons come within the operation of the act it will be liberally applied to them.”

As any student of Washington construction law (and construction lien law) knows, there is a lien law battle being waged in the Washington Supreme Court over whether strict or liberal construction of these statutes should prevail in the controversial Williams v. Athletics’s Field matter.

I’m sure there is more to come on all of this soon.

Posted in:     Mechanics Lien, Washington  /  Tags: , , , , , ,   /   Leave a comment