Law 101 Series

Who Owns Construction Design Documents?

architect design plans copyrightFederal copyright law protects architectural work, including architectural plans, drawings, and buildings themselves.

Generally speaking, the architect owns the copyright to the design documents and the building’s distinctive design attributes.

The architect retains these copyrights unless he or she contractually conveys them to the owner or another. Architects often license the use of design documents subject to certain restrictions.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

What are Estoppel Certificates?

texas landlord tenant real estate estoppel certificateAn estoppel certificate is a document containing representations about certain contractual matters, upon which stated matters third parties may place reasonable reliance. This instrument provides the third party increased confidence in the written representations because the person making them is effectively deprived of the ability to dispute those representations later.
Stated differently, “[a]n estoppel certificate is a signed statement by a party, such as a tenant or mortgagee, certifying for another’s benefit that certain facts are correct, [such] as that a lease exists, that there are no defaults, and that rent is paid to a certain date. A party’s delivery of an estoppel certificate estops that person from later claiming a different state of facts.” CJS Estoppel § 16.
Estoppel certificates are often required by third parties who intend to (a) make a loan to a landlord secured by an interest in the leased real estate; or (b) purchase a landlord’s property. In these situations, the landlord and its tenant(s) are required to represent in the certificate several issues related to their leasing relationship with one another.
Estoppel certificates are commonly used in other business transactions, too

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

Builder’s Risk Insurance Basics

Broadly speaking, builder’s risk insurance protects against unplanned risks to work under construction and to certain items on the construction site.

Builder’s risk provides first-party coverage, which means that the insured itself can make a claim directly against the policy.texas construction builders risk insurance

For additional reading, the Houston Chronicle has published an overview of builder’s risk insurance here.

Insurance is a specialized practice area, and the precise language of the insurance policy is very important to understanding rights and responsibilities. For this reason, it’s wise to visit with your insurance agent or attorney about your particular situation.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

What is an Owner’s “Program” on a Construction Project?

A program is part of the communication process between the construction project owner and the company(ies) responsible for evaluating, designing, and building the project.texas construction law owner's program

In its most basic elements, an owner’s program contains the owner’s overall goals and limitations for the project, This may include items such as price/budget constraints, scheduling, space requirements, special equipment, safety issues, and more.

The program often serves as the foundation for further discussion about the feasibility of the project in light of the program’s substance. For example, in those instances in which the owner retains an architect for the project, that architect almost invariably provides feedback on the program as part of the schematic design phase, the first of several phases of the architect’s design process.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

How Long Does Adverse Possession Take in Texas?

Adverse possession always seems to be a popular topic. The idea that you may able to take something that you knowtexas adverse possession real estate isn’t yours and legally make it your own (without compensation) may be enticing. That same idea, however, may be off-putting if it’s your property that is taken by someone else.

How long does adverse possession take? As usual, the answer is not so simple.

The Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code lists several different statutes of limitation for bringing suit to recover real property purported to having been taken — or purporting to be in the process of being taken — by another.

There are three-year, five-year, ten-year, fifteen-year, and twenty-five year statutes of limitations.

Which limitations period applies depends on whether the person claiming to take the property (the “Claimant”) holds it under title or color of title, whether the Claimant pays taxes on the property, whether the Claimant claims the property under a registered and non-forged instrument, how the property is being held, the size of the property at issue, whether the property is enclosed, whether the person whose property is being taken is, has been, or was operating under a legal disability (minor, unsound mind, or in the U.S. armed forces during a time of war), and other circumstances.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

Who Should Get the Initial Permits Required to Start Construction?

The owner of the project — the person desiring the construction — is generally required to obtain the preliminary construction permits necessary to begin the work.

However, the owner may reallocate this responsibility by virtue of her contract with the contractor or her contract with the architect/engineer.

In addition to construction permits, there may be other restrictions, laws, or regulations that influence an owner’s ability to build on any particular site.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.

 

Damaged Fence Liens in Three Sentences

texas damaged fence lien lawA person who owns real estate enclosed by a fence may in some circumstances obtain a judgment for a lien against the motor vehicle of a person who damages the fence with the vehicle.

The purpose of the lien is to help (a) secure the fence repair costs, (b) recapture any animals that escaped as a direct result of the damage to the fence, and (c) have the vehicle towed from the property and stored.

The amount of the lien, the property to which it attaches, and the methods for perfecting and removing the lien are all dictated by statute.

In our Law 101 posts, we define terms, phrases, or concepts with the goal of conveying core information in order to set the stage for more complex discussions.