SOUTH DAKOTA SUPREME COURT UPDATE: Bad Faith, Bad Facts, or Bad Arguments?

Sometimes lawyers and contractors can be tempted to complain that an engineer, judge, or arbitrator just didn’t “get it.” If that is the problem, maybe we should ask, why not? A contractor’s case gets buried. The South Dakota Supreme Court recently tossed out a lawsuit against an engineer brought by a contractor who was seeking […]

Minnesota: Mechanic’s Liens in the Gopher State

We’ve all heard the old adage: Plan your work and work your plan. When it comes to securing payment for construction work using mechanic’s liens, this definitely holds true. In response to enthusiastic feedback about our recent lien article, we are expanding on the topic to highlight state-specific requirements. The first of Welle Law’s four practice […]

Price Escalation Clauses

Turn the tables on tariffs and other market disruptions The recent announcement of aluminum and steel tariffs is the latest wild card in the high-stakes game of pricing construction work. Over the last decade, we have experienced significant spikes in costs of diesel, asphalt, cement, gypsum, lumber, PVC, and steel. Shifting international demand, production anomalies, […]

What is Your Lien Strategy?

You’re about to start work for a privately-owned project. You have negotiated the best possible contract terms, studied the plans, and are ready to send your best people to the job. All that remains is to perform quality work and submit the necessary paperwork, right? Only if you have a plan in place to protect […]

Hidden Duty, Real Responsibilities: Good Faith and Fair Dealing

As written, most construction contracts leave lots of space for interpretation. These ambiguous or gray areas are often what lead to contract disputes. Parties involved in the design, bid, and build process may naturally assume the most favorable version of terms, and it can be tempting to take advantage of the contract’s lack of clarity. […]

Does Your Scope of Work Mean What You Think It Means?

Does your scope of work mean what you think it means? The Iowa Court of Appeals tells one prime contractor NO. It’s not inconceivable that two parties with different incentives may disagree about the meaning of contract language. In subcontracts, scope of work language provides a ripe source of disputes, especially if this important language […]

North Dakota Joins Iowa and Minnesota in Limiting “No Damage for Delay”

After being awarded a contract to remove silt and debris from an empty lakebed, the contractor was ready to begin work, and was understandably surprised to find the lake filled with water. To make matters worse, the owner ordered the project to start anyway, and then refused to pay any of the extra costs. Despite […]

Keeping Your Head Out of the Sand: The Duty to Inquire

As spring makes way for summer, companies can shift focus from potential projects to a more manageable number of awarded projects. Although estimators have already analyzed countless details, the bidding process also encompasses lost projects and requires judgment calls under short deadlines. When your team revisits the details of each awarded project, they should ask […]

Pay-if-Paid Contracts: All Work and No Pay?

One of the most significant financial risks faced by contractors is that of the “project banker.” Almost all contractors are expected to finance construction by supplying labor, equipment, and materials to a project before being paid. When this happens, there is always a risk that the owner might not pay in full, on time, or […]

How would you pack for a three-year vacation?

Under a new Minnesota law, contractors with even a single violation of wage, labor, or contracting laws can be banned from performing public contracts for three years, and can even lose existing contracts. Ben Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What if there is no cure? In this […]