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Contractor's Plain-English Legal Guide
Book w/ CD-ROM

Contractor's Plain-English Legal Guide


National Construction Law Manual - 4th Edition
National Construction Law Manual

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Contractor's Plain-English Legal Guide

By: Quenda Behler Story 

For today's contractors, legal problems are usually hidden, like snakes in a swamp. This book shows you where to find them before they find you.

Whether you’re an experienced contractor who’s paid too much to too many lawyers, or a newcomer without the experience or financial backing to risk a legal battle, this book will guide you away from danger spots and along a safer path.

You're less likely to need a $200-an-hour guide with a law degree if you follow the simple directions in this easy-to-read guidebook. It gives you directions on the simple tasks you can do yourself without the help of a lawyer, as well as point out to you when you may actually need a "pro" to take your case.

For the price of about 15 minutes in a lawyer’s office you'll have a guide that will make many of those visits unnecessary. You'll find directions for starting a business, what to put in every contract, how to collect what's owed you, what laws affect your jobs, what to do about job injuries, how to file a lien that holds up, how to handle warranties, and where you’re liable for subcontractors.

Contractor's Plain-English Legal Guide includes a FREE CD-ROM with all the legal forms shown and explained in the book, plus extra forms with filled-out copies as examples.


Part One: Startup Legal Problems, 5

1. What Do You Need to Start a Construction Business?, 7
Can You Work Out of Your Home?, 8
What Do You Need from the IRS?, 10
What Do You Need from the State?, 12
What Records Should You Keep - and Why?, 20

2. Sole Proprietor, Partnership or Corporation?, 25
When Does It Make a Difference?, 25
What Is a Sole Proprietorship?, 27
What Is a Partnership?, 30
What Is a Corporation?, 42

Part Two: Construction Contracts, 51

3. What Does Every Contract Have to Have?, 53
The Four Requirements for a Contract, 53
A Contract Starts With an Offer, 55
A Contract Must Benefit Both Parties, 60
An Offer Has to Be Accepted, 62
Consumer Protection Notices, 63
If the Contract Doesn't Have Everything, 64

4. Contract Terms: Filling In the Blanks, 67
Who Are the Parties?, 67
Scope of the Work Clauses, 76
The Payment Amount, 80
The Payment Terms, 82
Work Schedules, 86
Change Orders, 88
Indemnity Clauses, 90
Settling Disputes, 93
Warranty Clauses, 93
Consumer Clauses, 94

Part Three: Legal Guidelines for Running a Business, 97

5. What If You Hire Someone?, 99
Employee or Independent Contractor?, 100
Taxes and Social Security Payments, 101
Unlawful Discrimination in Hiring, 102
Protecting Others from Employee Negligence, 107
Employee Handbooks, 109
Affirmative Action Programs, 112

6. What Do You Have to Do for the IRS?, 113
The Self-Employed and the IRS, 113
Your Employees and the IRS, 121
What If You're Audited?, 122
What If You Haven't Filed Tax Returns?, 123

7. How Do You Collect What's Owed You?, 125
Small Claims Court, 127
What Is a Construction Lien?, 128
Lien Waivers, 138
What Is a Stop Notice?, 142
Payment and Performance Bonds, 143

Part Four: Legal Problems on the Job Site, 145

8. What Laws Affect the Building Site?, 147
Building Codes, 147
The Zoning Laws, 151
The Accessibility Laws, 159
Other Permits You Must Get, 161

9. How Is Safety Regulated on the Job Site?, 163
OSHA Job Site Safety Requirements, 163
Employers' Obligations Under OSHA, 164
Employees' Rights Under OSHA, 167
OSHA Inspections, 170

10. What If Someone Is Injured on the Job Site?, 171
When Your Employee Is Injured, 171
When a Sub or Sub's Employee Is Injured, 174
When an Owner or Visitor Is Injured, 175
If a Trespasser Is Injured, 177
If the Contractor Is Sued for Negligence, 177

11. What If You Use Subcontractors Instead of Employees?, 179
What Is a Subcontract?, 179
Employee or an Independent Contractor?, 181
If an Independent Is Injured on the Job, 183
Trouble Between the General and the Owner, 186

12. What Contract Problems Do Subcontractors Have?,  189
Between the General and the Customer, 190
Between the General and Subs, 193
Solution - The Subcontractor's Addendum, 201

Part Five: Legal Issues in the Construction Industry, 209

13. What Warranties Affect the Construction Industry?, 211
Express Warranties, 212
Implied Warranties, 214
Disclaimer of Warranties, 216

14. What Consumer Protection Laws Affect Your Business?, 221
State Consumer Protection Laws, 221
The Federal Consumer Protection Laws, 228

15. What Legal Protection Is Available for a Company in Financial Trouble?, 235
Protecting Your Personal Assets, 236
When Your Business Is in Trouble, 239
Save Your Business Without Bankruptcy, 240
Bankruptcy the Only Solution, 241

16. What About Retirement, Disability or Death?, 245
Retirement Plans, 245
Health and Disability, 248
Death, 250

17. A Few Last Words About You and Your Lawyer, 253
How to Choose a Lawyer, 253
When to Call a Lawyer, 253
When to Call Another Professional, 254
What to Expect, 257

Glossary, 259

Index, 266

What's on the CD?, 269


Quenda Behler Story is an attorney specializing in construction law. For almost 20 years, she and her husband worked in the construction field. Here she saw first hand, and through painful and expensive experience, the legal pitfalls that lie in wait for every contractor.

Her interest in the legal side of the business led her to make construction law her specialty and make her career helping contractors stay out of trouble. Now, she is a consultant on legal issues that impact builders and subcontractors, and a frequent lecturer on the subject.

Because of her expertise, she was chosen by the Journal of Light Construction to be their legal columnist. Since 1994, she has in her column advised on hundreds of legal problems from contractors nationwide, and has written An Ounce of Prevention, for Home Builder Press.

272 pages
8-1/2 x 11in.


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