LOVELAND, CO – The monthly Construction Super Conference (CSC) News Print e-newsletter has been on hiatus, but Emerald Expositions is bringing it back with some new/old blood. With an already excellent team in place for the conference, I’ve been asked to take the reins of News Print, and I do so with a keen eye toward generating interesting content.
As a journalist by trade, I claim no exalted knowledge of construction law. While I’ve read a lot about it in the past few weeks, that’s a drop in the proverbial bucket. It’s my hope that you will take my calls and let me know when a new and interesting topic begs to be covered. I have always been interested in the inherent professional challenges confronted by experts in their field.
Taking a glance at the educational topics offered at CSC, I get a sense of the level of detail that must be mastered by the attorneys in this field. And yet, while so much comes down to accurate analysis of exacting legal language, I suspect that you are equally well tuned to the psychological ups and downs of your clients.
After all, contractors/builders have livelihoods on the line. Reputations are in the balance. They too are dealing with families who are often spending life savings on cherished structures. It all adds up to a lot of emotion.
In my hometown of Loveland, Colorado, my wife and I saved money for a decade to build what we hoped would be the “barn of our dreams.” We found a solid company to provide the materials and hired a highly recommended construction company in the area. What could go wrong?
We staked out the property in Nov 2018, with a promised start of “probably February.” Operating under the assumption that it always takes longer and costs more, we were not surprised when this adage proved true. Finally in May 2019, construction began with drilling for posts. The construction company bypassed the inspection of the 25-foot setback with an “engineer letter” substituting for an actual person laying eyes on the property.
However, three of the four flimsy wooden stakes (prior to installing posts and pouring concrete) had blown down during a wind storm. The new stakes were hastily replaced, but as it turns out, in the wrong place. After two days of construction, my wife went out with a tape measure and said, “Guys, the building is in the wrong place.” Posts were in concrete. Trusses were up. A dozen men had worked for almost two days—and thus the saga began.
After reading the fine print, meeting with county engineers to discuss variances, and meeting with an attorney friend who gave us free advice, we decided to pay half the cost of dismantling and moving the building. So many friends and neighbors howled, “They should pay for the whole cost. It was their fault!” Yes, that’s probably true, perhaps even ethically true, but not legally true. CSC attendees know this all too well, but it was an education for us.
Fortunately, the barn got built and it is lovely. The horses are merrily chomping hay as I write this, and we are a bit wiser. We instinctively thought, “We build a barn once in a lifetime. They do it every day.” They would never make such a large mistake, right? After several decades on the planet, it seems we still did not appreciate Murphy’s Law.
I’m sure that’s an extremely mild story in the pantheon of legal nightmares. Fortunately, nightmares end, and while many people love to bad mouth attorneys, it’s often a good attorney who helps to end the misery and find a resolution.
As for News Print, I hope you let me know what feature articles I should be looking into. We want to balance news about the show with general interest, in addition to anecdotes that can illustrate a principle that hopefully sheds some light. Feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call if you’d like to discuss a potential News Print article. I’m a good listener.
Greg Thompson is the editor of News Print and can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and at (970) 227-1002. Greg is a longtime writer/editor for a variety of fields, including home medical equipment, radiology, and patio/hearth products. He is married with three (somewhat) grown children, three horses, two dogs, and a hard-earned barn that will be even more appreciated during the next Colorado winter.