Construction Law Blog

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Commercial Drone Use – FAA Clarifies Rules

Date: September 21, 2016  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Construction Bidding, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Rants and Raves  /  Keywords: Commercial Drone Use – FAA Clarifies Rules 1  /  Comments (0)

Construction contractors increasingly use drones to monitor and document progress on construction sites.  Drones are becoming more and more common place in construction.  One of our clients, an excavation contractor, uses a drone to fly the project before the bid.  The contractor then uses the data gathered from the drone to create a topographic map, inputs the design elevations and plans in a computer, and calculates the quantities as a check of the owner takeoffs.  This is an inexpensive check on quantities, which provides the contractor with a leg up in the bidding process.

SBA Eases Joint Venture Rules for Disadvantaged Businesses (Small Businesses) on Federal Contracts

Date: August 3, 2016  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Companies that do not themselves qualify for federal preferences as small, disadvantaged businesses can help in joint ventures with other qualified companies and enjoy many of the benefits these programs offer.

Federal agencies annually reserve over $12 billion in federal contracting opportunities for award to “8(a)” companies, which are businesses that have successfully applied for determination of being socially and economically disadvantaged under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Act.  In addition, other categories of disadvantaged, small businesses, such as companies owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, qualify for a growing allotment of set aside contracts and other preferences.

EEOC Implements New Procedures for Discrimination Charges

Date: June 23, 2016  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation, Employment  /  Comments (0)

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.  It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Contractors Should Exercise Reasonable Diligence to Avoid Serious Violation

Date: May 25, 2016  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Department of Labor & Industries  /  Comments (0)

When issuing citations under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act of 1973 (“WISHA”), the Department of Labor and Industries (“L&I”) commonly classifies violations as either “general” or “serious.”  The level of severity has an effect on the civil penalty – for example, the civil penalty of “serious” violation can reach $7,000 per violation – as well as the contractor’s safety record.  Contractors with poor safety records may pay more for insurance and have a more difficult time procuring work.

OSHA’s New Silica Rule Imposes New Regulations on Many Contractors

Date: May 11, 2016  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation, Employment  /  Comments (0)

Mound of SilicaOn March 25, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) published its final rule on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (the “Silica Rule”).  Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other materials.  Silica exposure is classified as a human lung carcinogen and can cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.  Approximately two million construction workers nationwide are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplace as a result of drilling, cutting, crushing, or grinding silica-containing material, such as concrete and stone.

Unreinforced Masonry Buildings – Seattle

Date: May 4, 2016  /  Author: Larry S. Glosser  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Brick Building and WindowsSince 2009, the City of Seattle Department of Constructions & Inspections (formerly part of the Department of Planning (the “Department”) has been considering requiring retrofits for buildings with unreinforced masonry (“URM”) bearing walls.  URM buildings are the brick buildings built without steel reinforcements and ties and connections required by modern building codes.  They were built throughout the city, but many can be seen in neighborhoods such as Pioneer Square, Chinatown/International District, Columbia City, Capitol Hill, and Ballard.  URM buildings are the most likely type to be damaged during earthquakes, and retrofits will make these buildings less vulnerable to damage.

SBA Expands Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program

Date: March 30, 2016  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

More than 100 new industries are now eligible for the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Woman-Owned Small Business (“WOSB”) contract program.  The SBA implemented the WOSB program in order to expand the number of industries where woman-owned small buisnesses could compete.  The program allows set-asides for Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (“EDWOSBs”) in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented and set-asides for WOSBs where they are substantially underrepresented.

Complying With the New TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule

Date: December 2, 2015  /  Author: Lawrence S. Glosser  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (0)

Recently, the largest changes in more than 30 years were made in federal mortgage disclosure requirements.  On August 1, 2015, the forms that have become second nature for generations of loan originators, attorneys, and borrowers—including the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), HUD-1, and Truth-in-Lending—are no longer used for new real estate transactions.  In their place are two completely new forms and a new set of requirements for how and when they are provided to borrowers.

Local Zoning Code Trumps Statutory Scheme for Collective Cannabis Gardens

Date: August 27, 2015  /  Author: Larry Glosser  /  Categories: Rants and Raves, Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration, Government Contracts, Out of the Ordinary  /  Comments (0)

In a recent case, the Washington State Supreme Court examined the question of whether a city or town’s zoning regulations can take precedence over activities that are permitted under state law.  The issue arose from the City of Kent’s efforts to prohibit collective gardens that were authorized by the pre-2015 version of RCW Chapter 69.51A, the Medical Use of Cannabis Act (MUCA).

Full Funding of Change Orders on Federal Contracts - Anti-Deficiency Act

Date: June 18, 2015  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation, Damages, Change Orders  /  Comments (0)

In federal government contracting, as in most public works contracts, contractors are required to comply with Contracting Officers' decisions.  Contract clauses mandate that pending resolution of disputes, the contractor must proceed with the performance of the contract, the dispute notwithstanding.[i]  Thus, even if a contractor suspects that the Contracting Officer directing the extra work does not have appropriate funds to pay for the changed work, the contractor has little choice but to perform the extra work.  This is a trap for unwary contractors that expend their own funds only to find out that there is no appropriation to pay for the extra work.  The Federal Anti-Deficiency Act was passed to prevent this very issue from occurring, but as contractors have learned, this Act has not precluded government employees from directing extra work for which they have no funds.[ii]