Why do we need construction laws?
Construction laws have developed out of the necessity to resolve construction disputes. In turn, construction disputes are driven by numerous factors such as unforeseen site conditions, noncompliance with contractual notice requirements, withheld payments, backcharges, undocumented change orders, errors in bidding, and poor project scheduling. Nobody likes to part with their money. Construction usually involves more than pocket change. The checkwriter therefore sometimes seeks more than their money's worth, more than the contractor expected or agreed to deliver, or more than the checkwriter is entitled to receive. Plus, checkwriters sometimes run out of money before the contractor gets paid in full.
Where do construction laws come from?
Washington's construction laws have developed through the years as a result of the Legislature's enactment of statutes affecting the formation of business, bonding, registration, recording of labor and materialmen's liens, industrial safety, workmen's compensation, insurance, warranties, formation and enforcement of contracts, and the resolution of construction disputes by trial or arbitration. In addition to statutes enacted by the Legislature, public agencies (state, county and municipal agencies) such as the Department of Licensing, adopt their own rules and also decide individual cases. These actions add to the body of construction law, including zoning and land use regulation. Additionally, Washington courts have helped form our current construction laws by developing rules based on case-by-case analyses and decisions from the Washington Courts of Appeals and the Washington Supreme Court. Collectively, these are the sources of construction law in Washington State.
How do we access construction laws?
All these laws are readily available online. However, it would take a century of 24/7 speed reading to review all of these laws. So, there are national computer based legal research services available to assist lawyers to directly access the complete body of law in the entire United States. These research services are expensive, but all lawyers subscribe to them out of necessity. These services, such as Westlaw and Lexis Nexis, have their own research techniques so that subscribers can efficiently hone in on what laws are applicable to whatever particular situation the lawyer is addressing.
How do lawyers learn about construction laws?
All lawyers are required by the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) to annually earn 15.0 credits of Continuing Legal Education (CLE). This usually equates to a lawyer attending 3-4 seminars each year. There are many seminars offered through WSBA and private seminar service providers which address recent developments and issues relating to construction law. The lawyers in our office both teach and attend these seminars throughout the year.
How do builders and other construction professionals learn about construction law?
The lawyers in our office also teach seminars for the Department of Labor and Industries and construction trade associations in Washington State such at the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), Associated General Contractors (AGC), and American Institute of Architects (AIA). Persons attending those seminars can receive their needed accreditation, clock hours, or industry certifications. Linville Law Firm, PLLC is also a member of these trade associations. We attend meetings, serve on committees, do our share of our work and yes, do a lot of socializing, play in the golf tournaments, flip hot dogs and hamburgers at the summer picnics, and have a good time. We work hard, but we have a good time along the way. You might not initially think so, but playing 18-holes in a foursome that includes a subcontractor, a project superintendant, and a media consultant can sometimes do more for a lawyer's business perspective than reading through a case review. Plus, it's a lot more fun.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ's).
This may not have answered all of your questions about construction law. We anticipated that. So, we have prepared an additional Legal FAQ's webpage which addresses the most frequently asked questions with regard to construction law.