Construction Law Blog

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Householder Exemption Does Not Excuse Subcontractor Performing Unlicensed Electrical Work on a Residential Project Owned by General Contractor

Date: June 24, 2014  /  Author: Paul R. Cressman Jr.  /  Categories: Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Department of Labor & Industries  /  Comments (0)

On April 28, 2014, Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals held that the householder exception of RCW 19.28.261(6) does not permit a subcontractor to perform unlicensed electrical work on a residential project owned by a general contractor.

WSDOT to Exclude Non-Minority Women-Owned Business from DBE Participation Goals

Date: April 29, 2014  /  Author: Ellie Perka  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Contracting, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Rants and Raves, Recent Legislation, Employment, MBE/DBE/WBE  /  Comments (0)

The Washington State Department of Transportation ("WSDOT") is moving forward with its proposal to exclude non-minority women-owned businesses from Washington's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise ("DBE") program goals for federally-funded contracts.  In early March 2014, WSDOT submitted its proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration ("FHWA").  If approved by FHWA, this significant change will go into effect in Washington for the rest of federal fiscal year (FFY) 2014 and remain in place through FFY 2017.  WSDOT's proposal was originally reported on the Ahlers & Cressman blog on January 9, 2014.  Read our original article here.

The Basics of SBA’s Bundling Restrictions

Date: April 24, 2014  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration, Government Contracts  /  Comments (0)

Historically, a major factor preventing small businesses from participating in the government contracts was “bundling.”  Bundling occurs when two or more contract requirements, previously provided or performed under smaller contracts, are consolidated into a solicitation for a single contract that is likely to be unsuitable for award to a small business.  Attempting to increase efficiency and decrease administrative costs, Congress passed the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act in 1994, encouraging the consolidation of certain contracts.  As a result, between 1992 and 2001, 44.5% of all reported prime contract dollars were in bundled contracts.

Government Bid Protests: If You're Early, You're On Time; If You're On Time, You're Late

Date: March 25, 2014  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Construction Bidding, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Memorable Quotes, Rants and Raves  /  Comments (0)

Today, we can almost always communicate immediately in some way, shape, or form because we are always connected with our electronic devices.  We can tweet, text, or email a "running a little late" note at any time and having that ace up our sleeve, with no consequences to using it, has led to more delayed meetings than I care to count.  New York Giants' head coach, Tom Coughlin, is notorious for his insistence that his players show up punctually.  If his players showed up to a meeting "on time," they were actually late.  Coach Coughlin wants his players arriving to the meetings early, prepared, and ready to go at the start of each meeting.  If players failed to adhere to this philosophy, there were consequences.  Government contractors might be wise to adopt Coach Coughlin's "if you're on time, you're late" philosophy when submitting bids and proposals.

Federal Procurement Bidding on "Brand-Name or Equal" Products

Date: March 18, 2014  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Construction Bidding, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes  /  Comments (0)

This post primarily pertains to federal government procurement, however, many of the practice pointers and issues apply to state public works contracts as well.

Two Companies Fined for Failing to Locate and Mark Underground Utilities

Date: February 27, 2014  /  Author: Matt Paxton  /  Categories: Out of the Ordinary, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation, Damages  /  Comments (0)

On January 9, 2014, the Washington Utilities and Transpiration Commission ("UTC") announced that it has fined two utility companies, Pacific Power and Light Co. ("Pacific Power") and Frontier Communications Northwest, Inc. ("Frontier"), under Washington's new Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act (the "Act").  These are the first two penalties issued by the UTC since the Act took effect on January 1, 2013. 

Son's Performance of a Public Contract Bid By and Awarded To Father Found Illegal and Unenforcable

Date: February 25, 2014  /  Author: Paul R. Cressman Jr.  /  Categories: Government Contracts, Contracting, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Department of Labor & Industries, Delay Claims  /  Comments (0)

Recently, Division II of the Washington Court of Appeals held that a Pierce County contract with a son's proprietorship was illegal, void, and unenforceable when the project was competitively bid by the father's proprietorship and awarded to the father by the County.  Bankston v. Pierce County, 174 Wn.App. 932, 301 P.3d 495 (Division II, May 21, 2013).

"Small Business" a Primer

Date: February 13, 2014  /  Author: John P. Ahlers  /  Categories: Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration, Construction Bidding, Government Contracts  /  Comments (0)

Small businesses are the economic engines of job creation and essential to strengthening our national economy. President Obama, Governor Inslee, and a whole gaggle of politicians are committed to helping America's small businesses grow and prosper. The US government has cut taxes for small businesses, and helps them get access to the capital they need to expand and create jobs that the US needs now and for decades to come.

Can a Contractor be Forced to Pay Twice for a Subcontractor's Employee Benefits?

Date: February 4, 2014  /  Author: James R. Lynch  /  Categories: Claims, Liens/Bond Claims, Construction News and Notes, Regulatory Administration  /  Comments (0)

In the first case of its Winter 2014 term, the Washington State Supreme Court is considering whether an employee benefits trust may use the Washington public works bond and retention statutes to pursue claims for unpaid worker benefits against a third party (i.e. one other than the worker's employer).  Read more, here.  Specifically, the court in W.G. Clark Construction Co. v. Carpenters Health & Security Trust of Western Washington, et al. is being asked to decide whether the federal law governing employee benefits, ERISA, preempts the state's bond and retention statutes, RCW 39.08 and 60.28, and therefore prevents a trust from collecting a subcontractor's delinquent employee benefit payments from a general contractor's bond or retention fund.

WSDOT Makes a Drastic Move by Publishing its Intent to Exclude Non-Minority Women-Owned Businesses from DBE Participation Goals for 2014

Date: January 9, 2014  /  Author: Ellie Perka  /  Categories: MBE/DBE/WBE, Government Contracts, Construction Bidding, Regulatory Administration, Construction News and Notes, Recent Legislation  /  Comments (1)

On the eve of the holiday season, the Washington State Department of Transportation (“WSDOT”) published its intent to submit a proposal to the United States Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) with two striking and drastic changes to the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) Program in Washington.  These changes will have a radical effect on non-minority women-owned DBEs. Women-Owned Businesses (“WBEs”) should take swift action to halt WSDOT’s proposed changes, which will have lasting detrimental impacts on small businesses in Washington and the construction industry as a whole.