This article was written by Mike Gray Esq. Partner
This is the calm before the storm. It is very likely that contractors will face any number of issues on their projects in the wake of Covid-19. It is now more important than ever for you to get out in front of issues. Do not wait for a shutdown, delay claim, or termination. So, what to do:
- Communicate – early and often. As soon as you see something going south on your project such as late/non-payment, delays, supply chain issues, and/or critical path interruption – communicate in writing:
- With the owner (or GC if you’re a subcontractor). This means being extra vigilant about monies owed and any project delays including the causes, and a plan of action. Utilize your contract in doing so. Most contracts will have provisions that may provide relief under certain conditions. Focus especially on delay and force majeure provisions.
- With your suppliers. Get to the bottom of what is causing delays in materials, and get timing commitments in writing. Then communicate the timing with the owner or GC and copy your supplier on the email.
- Photo-Document – “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Take detailed photos of your work daily. This may turn out to be critical if a project gets delayed or shut-down. You need a photo-documented record of the progress of your work, where/when your work stopped and why. Often times, disputes and litigation ensue well after a project is complete or shut-down. Without contemporaneous photo-documentation it could get very murky as to who did what and when. Memories fade and construction disputes are all too often reduced to a “he said, she said.”
- Daily Reports – in addition to photo-documentation, you should have written dailies documenting all that is going on with your project, and any issues impacting the progress of the work. Be specific, detailed and provide copies of the reports to the owner (and GC if you’re a sub).
- Frequent meetings – have regularly scheduled meetings or Zoom conferences with the owner, GC and subcontractors to discuss the overall project, scheduling, progress, and any issues that might have arisen. At the close of these meetings, you should all be on the same page, especially when it comes to a plan of action to deal with delays, scheduling, critical path disruption, and any other issues that are rearing their ugly head. Make sure to document all that is discussed in these meetings. It can be in the form of meeting minutes or even a simple email.