On some projects, conflicts arise between an owner and its various design professionals, including its architect. Should an owner opt to terminate its architect, the parties' rights will be dictated by their agreement. Therefore, an owner should be mindful of the following when negotiating such an agreement.
Posted by: Aliza Ganz
The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) has recently lifted the prior mandatory obligation of property owners who have been charged with an ECB Notice of Violation (a violation notifying the recipient that its property does not comply with a provision of the NYC Building Code and/or NYC Zoning Resolution) having to appear before the Environmental Control Board (ECB) to get the violation dismissed or lifted. The DOB now offers property owners a new option to ECB violation recipients.
The City of New York has recently enacted legislation allowing Owner-Developers of stalled construction sites to quickly restart construction by voluntarily participating in a new site safety program in exchange for the right to renew building permits for up to four years. The details of the Local Law 70 of 2009 can be found here.
In the usual case, problems that arise during construction are not the subject of dispute resolution until a project is substantially completed. Owners may then find that negotiated construction contract provisions with regard to required written notice of claims, contemporaneous back-up documentation, and the process for extra work and delay claims have not been followed. An owner subsequently has to deal with construction contractors' claims of waiver of contract provisions, constructive notice of the claims, and "he said/she said" arguments in resolving disputes. In addition, the claimant contractors are on the job daily, can testify on "personal knowledge", have contemporaneous documentation, and are usually "litigation savvy".
As a response to the rapidly rising costs of construction and its impact on the New York City building industry, the Building Trades Employers' Association ("BTEA"), which represents 28 contractor groups and more than 1,700 union firms, and the Building and Construction Trade Council of Greater New York ("BCTC"), which represents approximately 100,000 union workers, have come to terms on a Project Labor Agreement ("PLA"), its intent being to stimulate construction at new or previously stalled sites.