Legal Obligations

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

texas construction owners representative cast charactersThe role of an “Owner’s Representative” was not included in our Cast of Characters post. This is because they are not (1) commonly employed on many projects (at least in my experience); or (2) easy to define in a manner that is uniform across the construction industry. And some people just consider them to be lumped in with the “Owner” role anyway.

In actuality, the role of an “Owner’s Representative” is as amorphous as the different titles by which such person may be known. Titles by which such a person may be formally known include the “owners’ agent,” “consultant,” “construction manager,” or others. Regardless, the person’s substantive role is more important than his or her title.

As used here, “Owner’s Representative” means a person not the employee of the Owner of the construction project or affiliated with the General Contractor or Designer in any manner, who has specialized knowledge and/or experience with respect to a particular type of project, who is retained by the Owner, may serve as the Owner’s eyes and ears on the project, and may provide the Owner independent advice during the design and/or build phase of the project.

Despite this attempt at a global definition, the most accurate definition and scope of the role of an “Owner’s Representative” on any particular project is primarily encompassed by the agreement itself between this person and the Owner. So you should learn it!

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.

Risk of Unknown Site Conditions on Construction Projects

Sometimes parties to a construction contract encounter conditions on the site that were unknown at the time they entered into their contract. Who bears the risk and expense of dealing with those conditions?texas construction unknown differing unforeseen site conditions

The general rule in Texas: a contractor who is paid on a lump-sum basis is not entitled to additional payment because differing site conditions are encountered and must be addressed.

Exceptions to the general rule may arise where there was fraud or mutual mistake, or the parties expressly agreed in their contract how to allocate such risk and expense.

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 involved and complex discussions.

Mold Regulations for Texas Properties in Three Sentences

texas mold law regulationsTitle 25, Part 1, Chapter 295, Subchapter J of the Texas Administrative Code sets forth rules for assessing and remedying mold in Texas properties.

This subchapter delineates the qualifications for, and licensure of, mold-related professionals, provides a framework of mold assessment, remediation, and post-remediation standards and protocols, and contains penalties for non-compliance.

The recovery of damages for personal injury caused by mold is not addressed by these regulations, but is addressed by other law.

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.

Overview of Prompt Payment to Contractors on State Governmental Construction Projects

Texas state agencies and political subdivisions (counties, municipalities, public school districts, and special-purpose districts/authorities) must pay general contractors within 30 days of the later of the date the governmental authority receives (a) goods under the construction contract; (b) services under the construction contract; or (c) an invoice for the goods/services.prompt payment contractors texas governmental projects

The general contractors, in turn, must pay their subcontractors within 10 days after the general contractors receive payment.

These time frames do not apply if there is a bona fide dispute about the goods delivered or the service performed that causes the payment to be late.

More details in future posts. For information on prompt payment on private projects, click here.

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.

Prompt Payment to Contractors on Private Projects

Texas law generally requires the owner of a private construction, improvement, or demolition project to promptly pay the contractor for the contractor’s work. Specifically, upon receipt of a written payment request from the contractor for an amount owed under the contract for properly performed work (or suitably stored or specially fabricated materials), the owner must pay the amount to the contractor, less any amount withheld as authorized by statute, not later than the 35th day after the date the owner receives the request.texas prompt payment act

However, an exception to timely and full payment arises when a good faith dispute exists concerning the amount owed for a payment requested, including whether the work was performed in a proper manner. In this situation, the amount that may be withheld from payment is statutorily prescribed and varies based on the type of project at issue.

Disagreements frequently arise as to whether work was properly performed and whether, therefore, a contractor is entitled to prompt payment, in whole or in part.

A contractor may have the right to claim additional interest, suspend work, and bring suit under the Prompt Payment Act to enforce payment.

A party to a lawsuit under the Prompt Payment Act may ask to recover from the opposing party its reasonable, equitable, and just legal fees.

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.

Some Changes to Texas Landlord-Tenant Law

texas senate bill landlord tenant lawEnrolled Senate Bill 1367 brings some changes to Texas landlord-tenant law.

First, it allows a landlord under some situations to attach a notice to vacate to the exterior of the rental premise’s main entry door.

Second, it changes the penalty a tenant may seek from a landlord who willfully violates residential landlord lien law.

Third, it disallows residential landlords and tenants from waiving the tenant’s right to a jury trial.

Finally, it changes and clarifies some aspects of the law related to security deposits.

See the enrolled bill here.

Our Tips & Resources posts are intended to provide general educational information. Like all other material on this blog, it is not a substitute for legal advice.

Governmental Action to Abate Nuisances Part 2: Why?

In a past post we introduced governmental action to abate nuisances. Most cities or counties are endowed with legal power to stop nuisances. The government has to define what constitutes a nuisance subject to this authority before it can fairly enforce rules relating to nuisances.texas nuisance nuisances

Volume 1, Chapter 27 of the Dallas City Code establishes the minimum standards with which residential and non-residential structures within Dallas city limits must comply. Dallas adopted these standards after city council found that:

There exists in the city of Dallas, Texas, structures used for human habitation and nonresidential purposes that are substandard in structure and maintenance. Furthermore, inadequate provision for light and air, insufficient protection against fire, lack of proper heating, insanitary conditions, and overcrowding constitute a menace to the health, safety, morals, welfare, and reasonable comfort of the citizens of the city of Dallas. The existence of such conditions will create slum and blighted areas requiring large scale clearance, if not remedied. Furthermore, in the absence of corrective measures, such areas will experience a deterioration of social values, a curtailment of investment and tax revenue, and an impairment of economic values. The establishment and maintenance of minimum structural and environmental standards are essential to the prevention of blight and decay and the safeguarding of public health, safety, morals, and welfare.

Structures that don’t meet these minimum standards constitute nuisances for purposes of the City’s enforcement power. And we’ll discuss those standards and how the City enforces these rules in future posts.

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.