Virginia Construction Lawyer


Should You Hire Help? Thoughts at ALPS 411

Originally posted 2014-11-25 10:00:28. Wow! I’m privileged to let you know that I am on my 10th post at the great ALPS 411 practice management blog. This time I’m “musing” on the considerations that I go through during just about every week of trial regarding whether to hire staff or not. Here’s a taste: Over the course of the 4 and a half years of my solo practice, I, like many solo practitioners (and other owners of firms I’m sure) have considered the addition of staff to help with some of the administrative, marketing (whether through face to face meetings and conferences or online through blogging and twitter), research and others of the myriad major and minor tasks that must be done to properly represent a client. This of course doesn’t even mention the actual client representation and giving the attention necessary to each client to make them feel as if theirs is your only case. For the full post, check out ALPS 411 for the full post (linked above). As always, I welcome your ..


Where Standing, Mechanic’s Liens, and Bankruptcy Collide

I have spoken often about mechanic’s liens and the implications of such liens as they relate to bankruptcy here at Construction Law Musings. A recent case out of Loudoun County, Virginia added another wrinkle to this discussion, that of standing and what happens on conveyance of the property and what interest in the property is required to allow a party to seek removal of the mechanic’s lien. In Leesburg Bldg. P’rs LLC v. Mike Berger Inc. the Loudoun County Circuit Court faced the following scenario. Leesburg Building Partners developed certain condominiums and hired Lansdowne Construction to perform the work as general contractor and paid Landsdowne in full for the work. Lansdowne hired Mike Berger, Inc. (“MBI”) to perform concrete work for the project. Landsdowne didn’t pay MBI approximately $48,000.00 and subsequently filed for bankruptcy. MBI, seeking to protect it’s interest in the money it was owed, recorded a mechanic’s lien on the property. Leesburg Building Partners filed an ..


Anatomy of a Construction Dispute- An Alternative

Originally posted 2015-02-02 10:16:10. A simple statistical mediation model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Over the past three weeks, I’ve discussed three “stages” of a construction dispute from the claim, to how to increase the pressure for payment, to the litigation. While these three steps are all too often necessary tools in your construction collection arsenal, they are expensive and time consuming. No well run construction business can or should budget for litigation. The better practice would be to engage a construction attorney early in the process and avoid the dispute altogether if possible. Unfortunately, even the best of planning can lead to the need to hire a construction lawyer for the less pleasant task of assisting you in getting paid. This post is about an alternative to the scorched earth of stage 3 of the process that can and should be at least considered either before or after the complaint or demand for arbitration has been filed. I am of course speaking about volunt..


Sometimes Contractors Collect Without a License (Crawford Construction Revisited)

Originally posted 2012-11-26 09:00:56. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Are you all looking for a case where the contractor did just about everything wrong from a documentation and licensing perspective and still got away with it? If so look no farther than Crawford Construction & General Contractors Inc. v. Kemp. This case came up here at Musings once before relating to the contractor’s failure to obtain written change orders from the defendant homeowners. In the prior opinion, the Salem, Virginia Circuit Court allowed a large claim by the contractor, Crawford, to go forward despite the lack of written change orders. After much posturing, the homeowners then filed a motion for partial summary judgment based upon the Virginia Code 54.1-1115 which prohibits unlicensed contractors to enforce a contract. The homeowners argued that they did not owe the builder approximately $385,000.00 for added work and materials added to their home because the Virginia statute voided the contract. The builde..


Green Lighting and Sustainable Construction

Originally posted 2010-09-24 09:00:29. For this week’s Guest Post Friday, Musings is excited to delve into the lighting expertise of a good friend, James Bedell. James is a founding partner of Build2Sustain. You can contact him by e-mail or through his twitter account. First off, I want to thank Chris for the wonderful opportunity to post on his blog. Chris is one my key sources when it comes to sustainability and the ever changing world of “green” here in the US. As my friend Vik Duggal of konstructr has said in the past the attorney will be the super hero of the green movement. Chris Hill is definitely part of my personal super friends league. He asked me to jump in and discuss the concept of green or sustainable lighting design. The topic is massive so I wanted to give you all an overview if where sustainable lighting design is and how the lighting industry is moving to respond tithe challenges of “green” design. I’ve been a professional lighting designer for over 9 years. Worki..


Another Great Year of Solo Practice

My how another year (and summer) has flown by. I looked up and it was August 2nd and a month past the 8th anniversary date of the opening of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill. It hardly seems like 8 years have gone by except when I reflect on how things have changed in that time. When I announced the opening of my solo construction practice on July 1, 2010, my children were in elementary and middle school. Now I have two college students, one at Appalachian State University (with a budding photography talent that has provided some photos for this blog (including that on this post)) and the other at West Virginia University, and a high school sophomore. In just the past year I have rotated off of the Board of Governors of the VSB Construction Law and Public Contracts and began a tenure on the Section Council Virginia Bar Association Construction and Public Contracts Law section. I was named to both the Virginia Business Magazine Legal Elite in Construction Law and to Virginia Super..


A Stitch in Time Works in Construction Too!

Originally posted 2011-01-10 17:19:59. As I was reading the great guest post from Nick Pacella last week, the post got me thinking. While Nick’s post focuses on the limiting of architectural services during the course of a project and the possible liabilities created by such limitations, the same sort of analysis applies with attorneys as well. Let me explain. While an experienced construction attorney may not draw the plans and specs for the project like an architect does or physically construct the building; a construction attorney should be a key component of a contractor or subcontractor’s construction team. For the same reason that good plans and a great physical foundation for a building can lead to a great result, a good solid contract and a fair negotiation resulting in firm and well outlined expectations and duties for the parties will lead to a more trouble free construction process. With such a contract, the parties know what they should be doing and the consequences of fa..


iPhone 5 and iOS 6- Open for Business

Originally posted 2012-09-21 08:00:00. iPhone 5 on the left, iPhone 4S in the right For this week’s Guest Post Friday at Musings, we welcome back Martha Sperry for another great tech related guest post. Martha (@advocatesstudio on Twitter) is an attorney with extensive experience in the insurance industry. Martha also maintains a research and writing practice, AdvantageAdvocates with emphasis on research and written product for professionals and web consulting. Her blog on law, research, writing and technology Advocate’s Studio. Martha also has let Musings invade the Studio today, so please check it out! So great to be back at Construction Law Musings with another techie post for my good friend Chris Hill and his awesome readers. He stopped by my blog, Advocate’s Studio, to drop his wisdom today so please visit and check out his great post. We periodically like to storm each other’s blogs and surprise the readers, and Friday seemed as good a day as any to shake things up. I didn’t h..


Recent Construction Law Opinion Roundup

Originally posted 2014-01-20 09:00:06. The Virginia welcome sign at the Virginia welcome center on I-95. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Well, now that my suggestion of a new year’s resolution and quick review of a recent (and funny) book are done, we’re back to the more mundane, yet no less relevant, discussion of recent construction opinions here in Virginia. In the last quarter of 2013, the Virginia Circuit Courts in Norfolk and Richmond came out with opinions of interest to construction contractors and subcontractors. In Specialty Products Inc. v. Demolition Services Inc. the Norfolk, VA Circuit Court considered a three part claim filed in Norfolk by Specialty Products. The complaint consisted of 3 counts: 1. Breach of Contract, 2. Unjust Enrichment, and, interestingly 3. Fraud. These claims were all based upon a representation during the bid phase of the project by the defendant, DSI, that only a thin layer of epoxy existed for Specialty Products to remove from a floor at Camp Peary,..


Use Your Instincts when Negotiating a Construction Contract

I have often discussed the more “mechanical” aspects of contract negotiation and drafting here at Construction Law Musings. However, there is another, less objective (possibly) and more “feel” oriented aspect to construction contracting that can have as big an impact on your construction project. What am I talking about? Your instinct as a construction professional when looking the other party in the eye and getting a feel for the company or individual with whom you are contracting. Why is this so important? Firstly, and this is a truism, no matter how well drafted your construction contract is (and it should be well drafted and reviewed by an experienced construction attorney), if the other party wishes to “play games” and not honor the terms of that contract, you could still very well end up in litigation with the attendant frustration and expense. Having a great looking, well thought out and at least reasonably “fair” construction contract may make the litigation process somewhat l..



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