2019 Legislative Changes Affecting the Construction Industry
The construction industry in Florida is highly-regulated, partly due to problems experienced in the past. Every legislative session brings further changes, so whenever contemplating entering into a construction contract, retaining the services of an experienced construction law attorney is crucial to ensuring that the contract meets all legal requirements set forth by the legislature, including any ones recently enacted. This past session of the Florida Legislature resulted in a number of changes which affect the construction industry.
House Bill 1247 relates to construction bonds, and specifically the effect of incorrect or incomplete information in a notice of nonpayment for public and private construction contracts. These notices are to be served on a contractor and the surety to preserve rights to make a claim against the contractor’s payment bond. Under the bill, which was just signed by the Governor on June 24, 2019, the negligent inclusion or omission of information in a notice will not prohibit an otherwise valid claim against a payment bond. However, one who serves a notice of nonpayment forfeits rights under the bond, if the notice willfully exaggerates amounts unpaid or includes claims for work not performed or materials not furnished, or if it is prepared with gross negligence. Additionally, the bill grants contractors the benefits of attorney’s fees if they win a claim against a surety who issues a payment or performance bond for a construction project.
In another bill recently approved by the Governor on June 7, 2019, House Bill 127 addresses a problem inherent with dealing with many government agencies – transparency. Specifically, this Bill, if enacted, would require any governmental agency who requires permits to publicly post their permit and inspection fees, preferably on their websites. The bill also requires government agencies to create building permit and inspection utilization reports, and to also post those reports publicly on their websites by specified date. Each utilization report should include the following information:
- The number of building permit applications submitted;
- The number of building permits issued or approved;
- The number of building inspections and reinspections requested;
- The number of building inspections and reinspections conducted;
- The number of building inspections conducted by a private provider; and
- The number of audits conducted by the appropriate government authority of private provider building inspections.
House Bill 447
In yet another bill signed by the Governor on June 7, 2019, House Bill 447 addresses the situation of open or expired permits still tied to a parcel of residential real property when that property changes hands. Specifically, the Bill addresses the expiration of these permits. Local governmental authorities are expected to notify those identified on a building permit that the permit is to expire. On building permits six years old, the local governmental authority is permitted to close the permit, even without a final inspection if it determines that there are no safety hazards. Additionally, the Bill restrict the fees that a governmental entity can charge for searching for building permits, nor may they penalize an otherwise bona fide exchange solely because a previous owner failed to close a building permit. Further, the Bill will eliminate liability for a contractor who takes over from a previous contractor regarding defects performed by that previous contractor.
Seek Legal Advice
If you are a property owner looking to either build or improve upon your property, or if you are a contractor looking to enter into a contract for a construction project, speak to a construction law attorney as soon as possible. The Florida construction contract attorneys at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. have experience in nearly every aspect of construction law and are able to adjust their strategy based on the legislative changes discussed in this post. Contact our office today.