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The Deadline for Filing a Texas Mechanic’s Lien

Contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers in the Lone Star State have their work cut out for them when it comes to filing a mechanic’s lien. This is due, in part, to the state’s complex rules regarding the deadline for filing a lien, which varies depending on which of the above three roles you fall into. In this brief article, a Houston construction lien attorney at Cotney Law will be discussing the various deadlines for filing a mechanic’s lien in Texas and how they apply to you.

General Contractors

If you contract directly with the owner or their agent, you are known as the general contractor. For general contractors, the deadline is triggered with the filing of a lien affidavit, which must be sent by the 15th day of the fourth month after the lien trigger, which is the last day of the last month that the project was completed, finally settled, terminated, or abandoned. The lien must be filed by the end of this four-month period.

Subcontractors and Suppliers

The deadlines laid out above also apply to subcontractors and suppliers, with a few caveats. General contractors only have one notice to send, the lien affidavit. Subcontractors have to send out a notice to the owner and general contractor every month that they don’t receive payment. Suppliers will need to send a Specially Manufactured Materials Notice by the 15th day of the second month from the date that the materials were supplied.

Residential Properties

The deadlines described above apply to liens filed against commercial projects. While all of the steps are the same, the deadline is a bit different to file a lien on a residential property. Mainly, the lien affidavit must be sent by the 15th day of the third month, which shaves a full month off the time you have to file a mechanic’s lien.

When you account for the additional notices, statements, and affidavits that may also need to be submitted, it’s clear that it’s not feasible to file a mechanic’s lien in the State of Texas without the aid of an attorney. Navigate the veritable maze that is filing a mechanic’s lien with the help of a Houston construction lien attorney at Cotney Law.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction lien attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

A little foresight in the construction industry can go a long way towards avoiding disputes and maintaining owner-contractor relationships. While you can’t see the future, you can take steps to secure a project’s success by planning for potential conflicts in the contract drafting phase. Construction allowances are one of these potential sources of conflict.

Throughout this series, we’ve covered what allowances are and the considerations that must be taken to ensure that they are properly defined in a contract. The Houston contractor attorneys at Cotney Law will conclude this series by discussing why construction allowances should be altogether avoided and what to do when they can’t be.

Allowances Should Be Avoided

As a rule, contractors should avoid any project unknowns. While allowances may not seem inherently bad, they have the potential to cause a legal dispute. For this reason, allowances should be avoided when possible and kept at a minimum when unavoidable. Material and labor costs should be decided and agreed upon by owners and contractors prior to signing a contract.

When Allowances Can’t Be Avoided  

When you absolutely must include allowances in your contracts, be sure that they are within reason. If you expect project costs to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, you wouldn’t want an allowance that’s a small fraction of that. Don’t set yourself up for failure. A poorly estimated allowance may result in a contractor paying out of pocket for additional costs.

When material and labor costs do change, as is common, have a Houston contractor attorney draft a change order immediately. Simply discussing changes with a seemingly easygoing owner will not suffice. Conflict is sure to surface when changes pile up and you have no way to prove the source of rising costs. As always, we recommend improved document control, not just to eliminate confusion, but to also protect yourself in the event that you are faced with explaining your actions in a court of law.

Partner with an Attorney

Allowances are only one of the countless and ever-changing variables that can lead to conflict on a construction project. When the scope of work is altered and contract limits are tested, contractors are often burdened with defending their interests both on and off the project site. Keeping a lawyer on retainer is the only sure way to protect yourself in an industry beset by rising material costs and litigious owners. To ensure that your rights are vigorously defended from year to year, partner with our team of Houston contractor attorneys at Cotney Law.

To catch up on this series, read parts one and two.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Construction allowances are intended to allow a project to commence without being bogged down by the minutiae of pricing. But the smallest costs can often lead to the largest disputes. Contractors need to be especially careful when drafting contracts with allowances. In part one of this three-part series, a Houston construction lawyer outlined what allowances are. Now, we will discuss the care that must be taken with the inclusion of allowances in your project contracts.

For a contract to be effective, it must take into account the concerns of all involved parties while still prioritizing the overall success of the project. No easy feat. It takes an expert to ensure that contracts are the final word on mitigating and deciding conflicts. For the final word on contract drafting and reviewing, consult the expert Houston construction lawyers at Cotney Law.

Contract Language

Due to the potentially vague nature of allowances, the contract language that applies to them must be as specific as possible. This can be accomplished by including instructions on how rising and lowering material costs should be handled. For example, if costs exceed expectations, the contract should state if they will be added to the next payment or the final payment. If costs are lower, the contract should state how and if they will be deducted from the final amount.

Contractors cover the many costs they incur on a project with a markup to the final billing amount. This markup should be clearly defined in the contract for the owner. When the final amount reflects the rising costs of materials, you must be able to show an owner how you arrived at that amount. Like a grade school math problem, be sure to show your work. An owner may believe that they are being swindled when, in reality, they are being charged fairly for materials and labor.

Working Together

Contractors and owners must work together to arrive at an allowance amount. Owners must be clear on the quality and amount of the product they want. And it’s up to the contractor to employ the above language and communicate the costs of acquiring and installing products. Only then can an allowance be useful to both parties. However, as we’ll see in the finale of this series, it may be best to avoid allowances altogether.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Contractors know that they need to control as many variables as possible if they want to see their projects through from conception to completion. In this three-part series, a Houston construction attorney at Cotney Law will be discussing a potential unknown that can lead to a costly dispute: contract allowances. So often a dispute arises because expectations aren’t properly defined in the contract. To ensure that your contracts are clear and well-defined, have them reviewed by an experienced attorney at our Houston law office.

What Is an Allowance?

An allowance is an estimate of how much a material or task will cost on a construction project. Allowances are used because it is often impossible to discern the exact price of every item that could possibly be needed on a construction project. Even the most well thought out of estimates can be a shot in the dark once work commences. You can already see where the problem lies. When actual project costs exceed or fall below expectations, contractors are left having to explain the cause.

What Types of Allowances Are There?

There are two types of allowances, an installed allowance and a material allowance, and they both come with a potential for conflict. An installed allowance covers the costs of both labor and materials, while a material allowance only covers the cost of materials. For example, a material allowance is the amount of money to supply a wood door, while an installed allowance is the amount of money to acquire and install the door.

How to Mitigate Conflict

It’s imperative that the details of an allowance are understood by all parties before a contract is signed. Owners that agree to one of the above allowances must understand that the final cost of the materials and labor may not match the initial estimate. This is a likely possibility considering that recent tariffs have increased imported material costs. As we’ll see in part two, particular care must be taken when stipulating what happens when material costs rise. Our Houston construction attorneys specialize in construction law and are proficient in contract drafting and reviewing. To ensure that your contracts account for fluctuating material costs, partner with our team of attorneys at Cotney Law.

To learn more about contract allowances, read parts two and three.

If you would like to speak with one of our Houston construction attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

An employee manual should be an invaluable guide for your employees to turn to when they have questions or concerns about certain elements of their employment. But putting together a comprehensive employee manual can be difficult considering that it must meld the needs of your company with state and federal laws. In this brief article, a Houston contractor attorney at Cotney Law will be sharing a few tips on how to put together an employee manual. To ensure that every aspect of your business is lawful, consult with one of our experienced Houston contractor attorneys.  

1. Include What You Need

Not only should your employee manual include the laws that must be adhered to on a jobsite, but it should also account for any and all issues that may occur. This will afford you the greatest protection in the event of an injury or legal dispute. Included in your employee manual should be a drug policy, cell phone policy, and information clarifying worker classification, travel time, and overtime. Worker misclassification can potentially lead to a costly Department of Labor (DOL) hearing. If you can think of additional scenarios that could emerge and require direction, you should include them in your employee manual.

2. Prioritize Ease of Access  

It doesn’t matter how comprehensive your employee manual is if no one reads it. For this reason, your employee manual should be as intelligible as possible. In addition to the rules that employees must follow, employee manuals should include walkthroughs of specific scenarios that your workers may encounter on the jobsite. For example, your employee manual should include clear steps to follow in the event that someone is injured on the jobsite. Be sure to set aside time for your employees to read the manual and come to you with any questions.

3. Hire a Professional

You should absolutely hire an experienced attorney to aid you in putting together your manual. The state and federal laws that you and your workers must adhere to are complex and constantly in flux. You don’t want to face a costly court case or DOL hearing because of an overlooked provision in the employee manual. Partner with the Houston contractor attorneys at Cotney Law and ensure that your employee manual covers everything that you need to run your company efficiently without the looming threat of legal action.

If you would like to speak with a Houston contractor attorney, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

An employee manual can simultaneously save a company money and protect it from potentially crippling lawsuits. In this brief article, a Houston construction lawyer with Cotney Law will be discussing why your construction company needs a comprehensive employee manual. If you would like an attorney to review your employee manual to ensure that it is up-to-date on all state and federal laws, please consult one of our Houston construction lawyers.

Your Shield Against Lawsuits

A comprehensive employee handbook can protect you against erroneous workers’ compensation claims. Depending on the state, injuries that result from horseplay, drugs and alcohol, crime, and altercations among employees may not be covered by workers’ compensation insurance if the employee manual specifically warns against such behavior. If an injured employee attempts to bypass workers’ compensation and sue you directly, an employee manual will go a long way in proving that you did not approve of the employee’s behavior.

A Plan to Fight Addiction

In addition to protecting you against workers’ compensation claims, a thorough drug policy in your employee manual will ensure that employees are aware of the repercussions of drug use on the jobsite. It will also inform employees of any resources in the company or community that can help them with addiction. As we’ve covered previously, drug use is rampant in construction due to the dangers and pressures of the industry. It’s important that you have a plan in place for when a problem arises.

Being Aware in the Digital Age

Just about every construction worker has access to a smartphone that can upload an image to the internet in the blink of an eye. This image could be of confidential information or an employee working without the proper safety equipment. A smartphone can also be the cause of distraction and even danger to your workers and heavy machine operators. For these reasons, you must have an employee manual that outlines when and where a smartphone can be used.

Travel Time and Wages

One of the most beneficial reasons for having a comprehensive employee manual is that it precisely outlines a worker’s pay, the work they are to be paid for, and what kind of worker they are classified as. An employee manual that specifically defines stipulations regarding wages and travel time will prevent disputes before they can begin. This is imperative considering that the Department of Labor (DOL) has been coming down on worker misclassification and forcing companies to pay unpaid wages.

An employee manual can help solve and prevent virtually any problem so long as you plan for it in advance. Don’t wait for an impending DOL hearing to flip through your employee manual. If you need help reviewing and improving your employee manual, consult with one of the Houston construction lawyers at Cotney Law.

If you would like to speak with a Houston construction lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

When working on a construction project, you must always perform your due diligence and make certain that every specialized task you perform is to the best of your ability.  The same can be said for the process of agreeing to a construction contract with an owner. At Cotney Law, a knowledgeable attorney can assist you with drafting and reviewing all off your contracts.

In this two-part article, we are discussing why your contracts need to be reviewed by a legal professional. In the first part, we provided you with several common excuses contractors make for not hiring an attorney for contract review. In this part, we will explain a few of the benefits.

Remember, never enter a project without an ironclad contract in place. Contracts give you a legal recourse during a dispute. For example, in order to file a construction lien in Texas, the contractor is required to have direct contractual privity with the owner. If you are interested in filing a lien, consult a Houston construction lien attorney.

Everything in Construction is Always Changing

The motivation to hire a contractor is to build, improve, or remodel a structure. A contractor’s work over the course of a project isn’t the only thing that can change. Successful construction firms can also dramatically change their operations with time. What was once small subcontracting work can become multimillion dollar general contractor work and so on and so forth. With these changes to your business and scope of work, contracts with other entities need to also change, as do the rules and restrictions of taking on these projects. A construction attorney has the knowledge and experience to align these changes with the provisions in your contract.

Mitigate Liability

When you sign a contract as a subcontractor, can you confidently say that you know who bears the legal responsibility for delays and other common construction disputes? Even if you are not actually at fault, the conditions of the contract may result in you being legally responsible. Although your next contract may not expose you to risk, it never hurts to have a construction lawyer review the document to make certain that you’re not vulnerable. When an experienced attorney reviews your contract, they can help you decide how much risk you are willing to assume. This can also help prevent future litigation. However, if litigation does arise, a well written contract can be one of your most effective weapons in court.

If you would like to speak with our Houston construction lien attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Although construction firms have a never ending list of tasks to accomplish, one they should never overlook is their construction contract. A construction contract can be the deciding factor in how things unfold on a project. Whether you’re a general contractor putting pen to paper with an owner or a subcontractor agreeing to work under a contractor, this agreement is crucial. Some contracts are extremely fair and others can be absolutely brutal to one party. However, once you agree to sign a contract, there may be nothing you can do. Before you sign an unfair contract, consult a Houston construction attorney.

Common Reasons Why Lawyers Aren’t Hired for Contract Review

In this two-part article, the Houston construction attorneys at Cotney Law will discuss many of the reasons why a construction attorney should review all of a construction firm’s contracts. Before we delve into the benefits of working with an attorney for contract review, lets first review many misconceptions that contractors have in regard to having an attorney for contract review including:

  • No Value: They don’t see the value a legal professional brings to a contract review, so the contractor doesn’t want to compensate a lawyer for a service they don’t feel they need. Of course, after a lengthy legal dispute stemming from a contract, construction professionals realize they should have hired an attorney in the first place.  
  • Save Money: Many contractors are trying to save expenses wherever they can. This includes using boilerplate contracts or having no contract. The irony is that if they had hired an attorney to review their contract, they would actually be saving money in the long run.
  • Simplicity: Lawyers involved on projects are often perceived as complicating things. Some contractors prefer to keep things simple, but there is a reason why a lawyer is digging deeper into the language in the contract: to protect their client.
  • Efficient: Many contractors want to speed up the process of signing contracts, so they can rollout projects more quickly. Just like completing work on a project, if you rush through the process of drafting and agreeing to a contract, you’re more prone to make significant mistakes.
  • Good Relationship: Many contractors fear that presenting their subcontractor with a contract indicates a lack of trust. Although it’s logical to prefer handshakes to ruffling feathers, a contract is a mechanism that can actually ensure that both parties are properly sharing their responsibilities and potential liability when executed properly.

For more information on why you should have an attorney review your construction contracts, please read part two.

If you would like to speak with our Houston construction attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.