Articles Posted in REAL ESTATE

As an Atlanta Construction Lawyer, I have worked with clients who have taken their Georgia construction arbitration, litigation, and disputes to the court system for resolution, and others who have gone through the process of arbitration. Many times, a construction contract specifically states that all disputes must be resolved through arbitration, yet unless contractually mandated, arbitration is often overlooked. It is important to note that while both methods have their advantages, arbitration is often the fastest and can be very cost effective.

In Georgia it can take a minimum of a year for a case to go to trial, while the date of the final arbitration hearing can be set much sooner. Disputes are often resolved just a few months after the arbitration process is initiated. The disadvantage to arbitration is that the parties named in the dispute will pay for the time of an arbitrator. Arbitrators belong to arbitration associations that are usually private businesses, and fees for an arbitrator can cost several hundred dollars per hour. The court system, on the other hand, is funded by tax revenue and requires that the parties pay only filing fees.

Besides the timing advantage, another strong point to arbitration is that the parties can choose the arbitrator that will preside over the case. Arbitrators have been trained in specific technical areas of the law and can be picked with this in mind. Judges in court proceedings cannot be picked and, although they have a broad knowledge of the law, the judge assigned to a case may not possess proficiency in the area that the dispute covers. In complex construction disputes, having the option to choose a knowledgeable arbitrator will ensure that all parties are treated fairly under Georgia law.
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As a Atlanta lawyer, I realize the importance of new Atlanta construction arbitration and its binding effect. The legal forum for resolving Georgia new construction disputes is usually binding arbitration and triggered by a clause in the “New Construction Dispute Resolution Section” in the “Home Purchase Agreement”. In most cases, the arbitration ruling is final. This means there is no chance to challenge the arbitration ruling, such as an appeal. In short, new home construction arbitration in Georgia is final. Should you disagree with the arbitrator’s award or judgment in your case, you are stuck with their ruling – and, no legal recourse. In your new home construction arbitration case, I know the importance and necessity of having affordable, zealous, and aggressive legal representation leading the way.

As an Atlanta construction law attorney, I have successfully represented countless clients in Georgia home construction defect arbitration cases. I have also represented countless clients in Georgia home construction defect negotiations. What is more, I have successfully brought contractors, builders, sub-contractors, and architects who are at fault, “to the table”, forced them to take responsibility and for their defective construction or design and pay damages, forced them to correct the defects at no charge to the home buyer, or both. It therefore stands that I know what you must look for in choosing a lawyer to represent you in a Georgia construction dispute. This is especially true if your dispute is to be decided through binding arbitration. Regardless, you must decide when it is the right time to seek the assistance of a Georgia construction attorney.

I would presume you found this article because you believe you have a construction defect in your home or other structure, which was caused by or through the negligence, malfeasance, or fraud of your contractor, builder, sub-Contractor, or architect. You will be glad to know, your search has landed you in the right place. The order of events in discovering and addressing a construction defect in your new home are as follows:

• You have found what you believe to be a construction defect

• You have tried to get the contractor to correct what you believe to be a defect, but you can’t get your contractor to correct the problem, or your problem gets the proverbial “band aid” placed on it

• You realize this is your house, it’s probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, you will call this place home, and your sixth sense tells you this is not a situation to take lightly and you should see a professional, such as a Georgia Construction Defect Law Attorney!

When you have verified that something is wrong with your home, and that the contractor, builder, sub-contractor, architect, etc. are not going to assist you in addressing or correcting the situation, it’s time to move on to more assertive behavior to protect your asset, as follows:

• Notify the contractor that there is a problem and give him one last chance

• Verify through a third party expert that the problem you believe is a home defect is the type of defect the contractor, builder, sub-contractor or architect should be responsible for, and should correct

• Verify through a third party inspector, expert, or other such person privy to the costs of correcting construction defects, and determine that the costs involved in hiring an attorney are justified. Make sure you consider the total affect the defect will have on you such as diminution in value, future sale value, the problem becoming worse over time, etc.

Now, you have properly identified and noted a construction defect for which the contractor, builder, sub-contractor or architect should be responsible, but will not correct. You have double-checked your findings through a third-party, and you have calculated that the problem is significant monetary issue to seek the assistance of a professional. Now it’s time to seek out your Georgia construction defect attorney to assist you.

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As an Atlanta, Georgia lawyer, I have noticed that failure to disclose defects in Georgia real estate (mainly in residential homes), are on the rise. In fact, some cases of ‘failure to disclose‘ serious defects in real estate rise to the level of real estate fraud in Georgia, and even involve action on the sellers behalf to hide, cover up, and disguise defects so the buyer or inspector will not notice them.

As an Atlanta Property Attorney who advises clients on the purchase and sale of real estate, I make sure and advise the sellers of real estate it is illegal to fail to disclose to potential buyers, major and/or material construction defects, in the ‘home for sale’. While sellers may view these disclosures as a burden, these laws exist to protect sellers and homebuyers.

By being upfront about your home’s defects in Georgia, a home seller can avoid serious lawsuits and legal liabilities in Georgia for failure to disclose defects. Your seller’s disclosure form shows both parties exactly what the defects are, so you can be exempt from future problems.

Before you put your house on the market, consider getting an inspection, so you are aware of any potential problems that need repair. This will allow you to decide if you wish to repair the defect now, or offer a discount to buyers who wish to repair the Georgia construction or home defect themselves. In fact, you may even consider having the house inspected by a high-level inspector such as a person with an engineering degree. This is because not all defects are evident, foreseeable, and/or predictable. Remember, the term “CAVEAT EMPTOR” means buyer beware under Georgia real estate law! This means that there is a high-level of responsibility put of the buyer to inspect the property thoroughly and in a manner such as a reasonably prudent person would do under like circumstances.

What is in a Georgia Real Estate Disclosure Statement?

Your Atlanta real estate agent should be able to give you a standard disclosure form, so you can see what you need to disclose. This Georgia Seller’s Disclosure Statement is treated as part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement and incorporated by reference. So, this “Disclosure Statement” is part of the Georgia Business Contract for the Sale of Georgia Real Estate. Thus, it is wise to disclose any defects that may affect a buyer’s decision to buy your house.

These include:

• Plumbing defects

• Sewage issues

• Water leakage

• Fire damage

• Termites

• Bug infestations

• Roof defects

• A/C or heating system defects

• Drainage problems

• Foundation cracks

• Issues with neighbors

• Lead paint or hazardous materials

• And more

Choosing Not to Disclose

If you are selling your home and do not disclose a known defect, you may face serious legal consequences. Buyers can demand money for repairs and damages due to the defect long after your house is sold. If an agreement is not reached or if someone was injured due to the neglected defect, you may also face a serious lawsuit. This can result in you owing the buyer large sums of money for repairs, legal fees, compensatory damage, exemplary damages, and even punitive damages if it is determined you have committed fraud, and/or more. In addition, you could be forced to take or buy the house back the house under the theory of rescission.

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If you feel you have become the victim of a real estate scam in Georgia by being sold real estate with hidden defects or defects, which were not properly disclosed, or you are being threatened by homebuyers who did not adhere to the Georgia law principle of Caveat Emptor, our Firm can assist you.

The Libby Law Firm Atlanta Real Estate Attorneys have significant experience representing both sellers and purchasers in real estate transactions. It is my strong advice that you find an experienced real estate lawyer to assist you with any Georgia “failure to disclose” issues. This is true whether you are the buyer or the seller.

These cases are also known under Georgia law as “hidden defect” cases and usually arise in the context of the sale of residential real estate. The Libby Law Firm Atlanta property and real estate lawyers represents clients in “failure to disclose” claims and lawsuits throughout the metro Atlanta area and Georgia. Our Firm can protect you from over-zealous home purchasers and keep you from being swindled by tricky sellers. Contact our Main Office by calling our Main Number (404) 467-8611 or through our Buckhead confidential Contact Us Form. Our Main Office is easily found, has safe secure free parking, and Our Firm is conveniently located near the intersection of Piedmont and Peachtree Roads near the Buckhead Triangle.

As a construction lawyer in Atlanta and a homeowner, I am painfully aware that doing any form of modification to your home is not only time consuming but expensive as well. Stress builds up even more when things do not go according to plan, and Atlanta construction disputes brought by Georgia homeowners and Georgia construction contractors can ultimately lead to lawsuits and court time. To control the amount of construction cases going through the Georgia legal system, the Georgia Right to Repair Act became effective in 2004 to facilitate the settlement Georgia construction defect arbitration, disputes, lawsuits, litigation, and other construction issues outside of court. The following steps should be followed prior to filing a Georgia construction defect lawsuit or Georgia construction defect arbitration proceeding against a contractor in the State of Georgia.

Step 1: Homeowners Understanding Of The Georgia Right To Repair Act

Prior to beginning a home improvement project, Atlanta contractors are supposed to alert homeowners to what the Right to Repair Act states and what is required of both parties if the construction does not satisfy both pairings. As an Atlanta homeowner, it is necessary to do your research before you begin any home improvement project, so you are aware of your rights. Not following the Act correctly can result in a loss for you as well.

Step 2: Homeowners Must Notify Contractor Of Any Issues

If you have any concerns about a project that was completed, you must submit a written notice to the Georgia contractor describing in detail the issues you have with the construction. This “notice of claim” should outline all problems including photographs and the nature of the defects. To ensure your problem gets resolved you must address the problem immediately.

Step 3: Contractors Reaction To The Claim

Once a contractor has received the claim notice they have exactly 30 days to respond in a variety of ways.

Option A: Offer a settlement in the form of money, repairs, or both. Some contractors prefer to fix the problem themselves until you are satisfied with the finished product. This allows for positive client relationships and a high reputation in that area for being a reliable company.

Option B: Contractors have the right to get another option and have the home inspected by a third party. This gives an outsiders perspective that does not have a bias toward the project and can offer a true estimate of the problem.

NOTE: If your home is to be inspected you must allow for that within the 30 days

Option C: The contractor decides to do nothing regarding your claim. If the claim is denied then they must also provide a written explanation of why they do not believe their work to be defective. Regardless a contractor must respond to your claim within 30 days otherwise you are free to pursue legal action.

Step 4: Acceptation Or Rejection By Homeowner

Once the contractor has chosen how to respond to your claim, you must then accept or reject their proposal. If you chose to accept their proposal, then both parties will create a settlement for the project to be re-done until deemed accepted. If you decide to reject the offer, then you must again put into writing your reasoning and you can then decide to take the matter to court.

The Georgia Right to Repair Act was put into effect to help Georgia homeowners get their money’s worth when it came to home improvement projects. Knowing your rights and what you are entitled to as the client can prevent any legal fees and additional upsets.


The Libby Law Firm Atlanta construction arbitration lawyers and Atlanta construction litigation attorneys can help Georgia homeowners who are involved in any type of Metro Atlanta, Georgia construction disputes. To learn more about how the Atlanta, Georgia construction disputes and litigation attorneys at The Libby Law Firm can protect and advance the best interests of you and your family, contact our Main Office by calling our Main Number (404) 467-8611 or through our Buckhead confidential Contact Us Form. Our Main Office is conveniently located easily found and provides plenty of free covered secured parking.

Construction defects can be costly to rectify and can negatively affect the value of a home and the ability to resell it (this is often called a diminution in value). Some of the more serious and difficult to fix issues stem from a defective home foundation. A home’s foundation can withstand hundreds of years of use if correctly constructed and usually can outlast the home built on top of it. However, if built poorly, a foundation can be the source of problems that threaten the stability of the home and, ultimately, the homeowner’s investment.

It is sad to know, that whether I am working in Sandy Springs as a “Sandy Springs Construction Home Defect Attorney,” the Buckhead Area as a “Buckhead Construction Home Defect Attorney,” in Fulton County as an Atlanta Construction Home Defect Attorney, in Gwinnett County as a Duluth or Lawrenceville Construction Home Defect Attorney, in Forsyth County as a Cumming Construction Home Defect Attorney, in Cobb County as an Acworth, Kennesaw or Marietta Construction Home Defect Attorney, and/or last but not least, in DeKalb County as a Decatur Construction Home Defect Attorney, the critical foundation problems I see in my Atlanta-Based Home Construction Defect Law Practice all stem from common defective construction that could have been prevented had the builder, contractor, or sub-contractor taken care in the construction of the home, and in particular, the foundation.

Unfortunately, these issues may not become known until several years after the building is complete. The result can be a nightmare scenario that leaves the homeowner unsure of what recourse is available under Georgia law. In many cases, by the time the defect is noticed, the builder or contractor responsible for the poor work usually denies that the foundation defects are their responsibility. For this reason, we also may engage various insurance companies to seek a remedy and relief for the homeowner in addition to pursuing the builder and contractor.

The foundation is especially critical because not only does it support the house, it also provides a moisture barrier that keeps the home dry and mold free. A solid foundation also insulates the home from cold and protects the home from damage caused by the ground shifting. Poured concrete reinforced by steel is thought by some experts to be a stronger material for foundations than concrete block or stone, and foundations can be built below ground on footings to provide a basement, or built as a slab. Regardless of the materials used to build the foundation, or its type of construction, all foundation types can fail for a variety of common reasons.

Improper initial site evaluation by the builder is one common cause of foundation issues. The first thing a builder must do when planning new construction is to evaluate the property’s soil type, water table, and grade. This will allow the builder to determine where to place the home on the property and what materials to use. Once that decision has been made, the soil preparation, process of laying the concrete and backfill used around the foundation all will affect the integrity of the foundation.

The foundation must be poured over solid ground that is prepared correctly, and compacted, so it does not settle and cause the foundation to crack. Properly leveling and packing crushed stone before pouring a slab, for example, will help prevent the slab from cracking. If the property contains any landfill material that may decompose over time, the soil must be reengineered to withstand the force of the foundation and the building. Additionally, concrete should be poured in one day to avoid creating a “cold joint” between fresh and semi-cured or cured concrete. This condition usually results in a cracked foundation that will leak. Concrete must also be allowed to cure slowly. Only by curing slowly will the concrete reach a strength that will support the weight of the house (around 3,000 pounds per square inch). Finally, the material used to backfill around the foundation will affect the longevity of the structure. Soils with a high clay or organic content absorb and hold water and can cause cracks in the foundation during freeze/thaw cycles when used as backfill.
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As an Atlanta, Georgia construction lawyer I stay very busy when I am preparing for a Georgia construction arbitration proceeding/hearing. Sometimes I have little contact with the outside world news. However, some matters do keep my attention in this upcoming election, such as healthcare reform, the estate tax debate, the “Buffet Rule”, and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan — ending a long war. These changes are taking place on a national level and to some extent, a local level. It is my opinion that if the Republicans control Congress after the 2012 elections and President Obama is not re-elected, then much of President Obama’s attempted changes will be put to rest. Thus, it is understandable we are living in uncertain times wherein we do not know what or will not change. What will not change is Georgia construction law and the need to proactively protect your property/real estate interests from unscrupulous Georgia builders, contractors, and sub-contractors. Georgia construction defects will continue at a high rate as Georgia builders, Georgia general contractors, Georgia sub-contractors, and other Georgia building professionals try to cut corners to make ends meet and extend their profits. This is being done at the expense and hardship of Georgia homebuyers and new home purchasers.

Fortunately, under Georgia Construction Law, there are options to hold your Georgia builders, general contractors, and sub-contractors liable for their negligence, shoddy construction, construction defects, and more. Please read on and into my article discussing some of the issues a homeowner, buyer, or purchaser of a new home should be aware of to protect their home investment interests. I offer you the following:

In my Atlanta, Georgia construction law firm, all of the Atlanta, Georgia construction lawyers are sure that current Georgia construction law and Georgia construction defect problems (especially in big metro areas like Atlanta) are here to stay. Every building over time will see the results of wear and tear, but knowing whether the problem is an easy fix or a major reconstruction project needs to be determined before you buy. After all, construction defects can reduce the value of your property significantly. These defects can range from design issues to faulty systems to failure to meet Georgia industry building standards. Remember – not all construction defects are created equal. What may look like a simply crack in the ceiling could actually turn out to be a major architectural default or foundational defect.

As an Atlanta, Georgia construction defect attorney, I want to note what constitutes a Georgia construction defect is based upon a variety factors. Our Atlanta, Georgia construction defect lawyers always engage a professional such as a Georgia structural engineer, Georgia construction expert, or other Georgia construction professional with the qualifications under Georgia law and the knowledge under Georgia construction law, to evaluate the work of Georgia builders, general contractors, and sub-contractors. Moreover, we have an expert behind each and every Georgia construction defect claim we bring on behalf of clients (there are a few exceptions to this internal Firm policy).

1) The potential buyer’s reasonable expectations. Most consumers do not have a realistic expectation of what is to be expected and thus may over analyze issues that are in actuality an easy fix.

2) The builders understanding of building codes and their willingness to comply with those regulations.

3) Whether the construction of the building was completed in the appropriate manner by individuals who possess the required workman behavior.

4) Whether the materials used to construct the structure were used for their intended purpose and were suited for the project at hand.

5) If the intended plans of the architect and/or engineer were used to the correct extent and followed according to their drafts.


Asphalt or Concrete – Not taking the time to properly install asphalt or concrete can result is cracking or other series problems.

Electrical – Faulty wiring is a common defect that can result in hazardous fires and electrical voltages.

Plumbing and Drainage – Plumbing defects can range anywhere from improper installation of water heaters to leaky pipes. These deficiencies can cause ceiling cracks and water damage to your venue.

Heating and Cooling Systems – Improper installation of these systems can lead to extreme harm. If air ducts are blocked gas buildup can occur leading to carbon dioxide poising.

Floors and Ceiling – Improper design can result in floors and/or ceilings collapsing, because they are not able to sustain the weight put upon them.

Roofs – Many issues can occur with roofing from shingle misplacement to the underlay. The most common damage caused is water intrusion into your building resulting in dangerous molds.

Windows and Doors- Not having these features installed property can result in mold and rot, because the moisture is able to seep in. Toxic mold can lead to major health complications and illness.

Structural – On of the most serve types of defects starts at the ground level. Not having the base of your building strong enough to withstand a variety of weather can have a devastating outcome.

Mold and Wood Rot – These problems occur when buildings are exposed to moisture for long periods of time weakening your building structure.

Before you plan to purchase a new property seek professional advice from someone familiar in the construction field to ensure you are getting a great property for a great price. In addition, it is important to speak with an Atlanta, Georgia construction arbitration attorney if you believe you may have a construction defect issue.

The Libby Law Firm Atlanta, Georgia construction arbitration, dispute, and litigation attorneys have momentous experience representing Georgia homeowners, home purchasers, Georgia contractors, sub-contractors, builders, landlords and more. The Georgia construction defect lawyers are skilled, knowledgeable, practiced and experienced in all aspects of Georgia construction law, and the Georgia dispute proceedings associated with them, such as binding Georgia construction arbitration. We are also well-known for our ability to build a case from the right to repair letter, to the defects, to the dispute proceedings. If you believe you have construction defect issues, “Contact Us” to discuss a strategy that protects your property interests.

To learn more about how the Atlanta, Georgia construction dispute attorneys at The Libby Law Firm can protect and advance the best interests of you and your family, contact our Atlanta office to schedule a consultation. Contact our Main Office by calling our Main Number (404) 467-8611 or through our confidential “Contact Us Form” located on our websites and blogs.

The Libby Law Firm Main Office is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta and easily found. There is plenty of secure free parking and our offices have street level access.

As a residential and commercial construction arbitration lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I can assure you that most persons entering into a Georgia construction contract do not think of worst case scenarios should any parties to the contract fail to perform their obligations according to Georgia construction contract law and construction industry standards.

• What is Georgia Construction arbitration; Is it binding? How does it work?

• What will happens if a contracting party fails to pay?

• What happens if the purchaser of contractor or builder services cannot be satisfied no matter what is done?

• What will happen if the contractor or builder neglects his duties?

• What do I do if I receive a Georgia “Right to Repair Act” Letter?

• Do I need to, and should I, send a Georgia “Right to Repair Act” Letter?

• What will happen if residential or commercial construction does not meet or exceed industry standards?

The questions and scenarios surrounding Georgia construction claims are endless as are the actual real life occurrences, which I witness happening day in and day out. To survive in the construction business world, it is best to be prepared for all possibilities. The best way to do this is to have a contract in place which fairly, resourcefully, and adequately covers almost any issues which might arise in any Georgia construction claim scenario.

For years, Georgia construction litigation was considered the more costly, more time consuming manner of dealing with disputes, and so many contracts included arbitration clauses instead. Georgia construction arbitration has many varied forms and phases, which are its counterparts to Georgia litigation. It is usually up to the parties to an arbitration, with the assistance of the arbitrator or arbitration panel, to make the decisions about pre-arbitration matters which are somewhat customized to the construction case. The most important and controversial aspect to Georgia construction arbitration clauses are that they are binding decisions and cannot be appealed to any court absent extraordinary circumstances. Even then, they are rarely overturned by a court of competent jurisdiction, but merely modified. One might say the good news in all of this is that Georgia construction arbitration can be a relatively fast and inexpensive forum for resolving Georgia construction disputes.

However, others counter this argument stating that the cost of arbitration has skyrocketed while the time it takes for a case to make its way through Georgia state courts has diminished significantly.

Two California Supreme Court cases held that the courts cannot overturn a binding arbitration award even if the arbitrator fails to follow California substantive law. As a result, it becomes literally impossible to have an erroneous decision reviewed by the courts. While this is a California case, State Supreme Court holdings often have a strong influence on the courts in other states.

Needless to say, if you enter into a Georgia Contract with arbitration, you should consult a Georgia contract lawyer with expertise in arbitration and alternative dispute resolution. This is especially true if the contract you are entering is a Georgia construction contract for new home construction, a renovation contract, or contract for any similar building, structure creation, or like-kind services.

Formerly a typical arbitration clause in a construction contract might read as follows:

All claims or disputes between the contractor and the Owner arising out of or relating to the Contract Documents, or the breach thereof, shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the Construction Industry Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association currently in effect unless the parties mutually agree otherwise. The award rendered by the arbitrator or arbitrators shall be final, and judgment may be entered upon it in accordance with applicable law in any court having jurisdiction thereof.

– American Institute of Architects specifications (formA201) –

Due to the current trends in Georgia construction law and the arbitration process itself, as an Atlanta, Georgia construction lawyer with The Libby Law Firm, I would suggest incorporating certain additional considerations into arbitration clauses when used to give the parties to an arbitration greater control. For example,

Arbitration forum. The standard dispute resolution forum in the construction industry is the American Arbitration Association (AAA). However, recently, a number of other dispute resolution service providers (e.g. Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service “JAMS”) have developed and many attorneys now prefer them over the AAA. The choice of an arbitration forum should be reviewed in context of the cost, arbitration panel members, and forum arbitration rules. Particular attention should be paid to the forum’s arbitration rules since they are incorporated into the arbitration clause. Though, the arbitration clause may include provisions that delete all or portions of the forum’s rules.

Discovery. Most arbitration clauses limit the scope of pre-arbitration discovery. A well-drafted arbitration clause will restrict or expand discovery to correlate to the dollar value of the dispute.

Standard for Court Review of the Award. An arbitration clause can be drafted to require the arbitrators’ decision to comply with the substantive law. If the arbitrator violates such a provision, the parties to the arbitration may seek to overturn the award since the arbitrator exceeded the authority granted under the arbitration contract clause. To ensure that a court has enough information to properly review the arbitrators’ award the arbitration clause should also require the arbitrators to render a well- reasoned opinion. The opinion should include a statement of the factual determination made by the arbitrators and the conclusions of law rendered by the arbitrator. Finally, if you want the decision to be reviewed by the courts for compliance with substantive law, a provision should be included in the clause that clearly states that desire.

The best method for ensuring that a Georgia construction dispute is correctly and fairly resolved is through situation-specific clauses in properly-drafted construction contracts. The arbitration clause is one of many clauses included in a typical construction contract, and each clause can be affected greatly by recent changes in the law. It is thus wise for any construction contract to be drafted or at least reviewed by counsel before signing.

The Libby Law Firm Georgia construction lawyers can negotiate, review, and draft your construction contract in light of all of the most recent changes in accordance to Georgia construction law and arbitration proceedings, which is most favorable to you. If you are considering entering into a construction contract or amending a previous contract in light of recent changes in the law, contact our Atlanta construction contract law firm and come in for a consultation. Seeking the assistance of a seasoned Atlanta, Georgia construction contract and arbitration lawyer adept is the least you can do to protect yourself from worst case scenarios.

As a well-known Georgia construction arbitration lawyer with a perfect Avvo rating of 10, I am here to tell you that if anything can go wrong in a construction contract or in construction, it will. The very nature, imperfection, and importance construction combined with the building a home or commercial structure readily lends itself to disputes and conflict. This is likely true because for many, a home is the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life. In addition, construction is not what it seems to be on paper. It is, by its nature, imperfect and the result and methods of construction are readily subjective.

In short, protect yourself because this construction is “big deal” to parties to the contract and maintains a high rate of conflict.

If you have legal dispute or binding arbitration with a contractor, builder, sub-contractor or architect whose work does not meet or exceed Georgia industry standards, you should contact The Libby Law Firm without delay.
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In my practice as an Atlanta, Georgia lien attorney, I can assure you Georgia liens are an important tool that builders, subcontractors and suppliers use when a property owner is delinquent on payment for a construction project. As a Atlanta, Georgia Construction lien attorney, I have seen changes in recent years to Georgia lien laws that have had a dramatic impact on the outcome of payment disputes on construction projects. The changes include important benefits for all concerned.

Changes to the law include how a lien is filed, removal of a lien and enforcement of a lien. One important modification is that in Georgia, only a licensed Georgia attorney may file a lien. Some of the changes to the law are so subtle, that only lawyers specializing in Georgia construction law may be able to properly file a lien. As a result, property owners, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers should always seek the qualified counsel of a Georgia construction attorney to handle lien issues.

Benefits of the changes in the lien law include the following. Property owners can contest a lien by sending the contractor a “Notice of Contest.” After receiving the notice, if the contractor wants to proceed, then the contactor must file a lawsuit within 60 days. Failure to file within 60 days invalidates the lien. Another benefit to the property owner is that an expiration date now is required on the lien. The modified law states that contractors will receive a copy of a filed lien when a “Notice of Commencement” is issued and subcontractors and suppliers will be notified when the property owner has bonded out a lien.
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As a Construction Lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I have noticed the poor economic climate is forcing more and more people to take desperate measures. As an Atlanta, Marietta, Buckhead and Sandy Springs Commercial Litigation Lawyer, I have seen an increase in claims by construction professionals against homebuyers who are backing out of real estate construction deals. In many of these cases, the homebuyers are looking for ways to blame construction professions for poor quality and workmanship so that they can walk away from the contract and not pay at all, or pay a lower price for work already done.

The following is a list of items that you may have received or experienced that should be considered a possible indication that the homebuyer is considering backing out of the construction contract:

• documents on behalf of the homeowner from a Georgia lawyer regarding pricing or quality of the work performed

• a Notice of Claim regarding your contractual obligations

• a written offer of settlement from the client that changes the terms of the original contract

• a proposal to inspect the building site

• an offer to settle a claim without an inspection

• a request to have a third party, for example a contractor or friend, work on or oversee the project

• continuous complaints about the quality of work

• failure to pay in a timely manner, for any reason

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As an Atlanta property lawyer that regularly handles proceedings dealing with Georgia business, real estate, construction, property, and contract matters, it is imperative that I know when a Georgia contract must be in writing to be legally enforceable. Being an attorney who does not cut corners and can be stubborn about achieving perfection, my quick answer is that every contract must be in writing. However, this is not true. Many contracts are not in writing. This is especially true for Georgia contract disputes and litigation, which in one way or another; end up on my desk to correct. In short, failure to memorialize your contractual agreement causes a plethora of problems, so please put everything in writing.

This is even true if you write your contractual agreement on a napkin from the restaurant, while having lunch with the contracting parties, with the waiter’s pen. The written contract should be a detailed written agreement that is signed, witnessed, and understood by all parties of the contract. Do not sign a contract you do not understand. This is because your signature on a contract affirms that you read, understood the contract fully, and agreed to it. The contract must contain and cover all material terms of the subject matter contract.

Now, the truth be known, the above-referenced scenario, while not a bad idea, is really me making a vain attempt to prevent future problems that could arise stem from uncertainties that often arise from oral contracts, and which are oftentimes prevented by written contract – even if it is on a restaurant napkin. Now it is time for the truth. I must admit I am purposefully wrong to prove a point. Georgia law holds that only certain Georgia contracts must be in writing. I still want to get one last word in that a contract on a restaurant napkin is abundantly better than an oral agreement.

In my Atlanta based property and Georgia real estate transaction and property dispute and litigation law firm, I know that contracts must legally only be in writing when they are subject to the Statute of Frauds. O.C.G.A. § 13-5-31 states that the following contracts do not have to be in writing to be legally enforceable. In short, they are not subject to the Statute of Frauds, which requires them to be in writing.

Conversely, it follows that contracts must be in writing when they are subject to the Statute of Frauds. In my Atlanta property dispute and litigation law firm, I know the exceptions to the Statute of Frauds. To be clear, contracts that must be in writing must meet the requirement that they be in writing because the Statute of Frauds dictates so.

Under O.C.G.A. § 13-5-31, the following types of cases are do not have to be in writing and thus one could say, they are not subject to the Statute of Frauds to be enforceable.

They are as follows:

• There has been performance concerning the contract terms by a party to the contract, and another party to the contract has accepted this performance. This indicates there is a contract, thus Georgia law states there is.

• Where there has been such part performance of the contract as would render it a fraud of the party refusing to comply if the court did not compel a performance.

• The contract has been fully performed. Since the contract has begun and finished, there is no reason to back up in time and require this contractual agreement be in writing.

As such, any oral contract is valid and legal enforceable so long as it complies with one of the above exceptions to the Statute of Frauds.

The binding authority that set forth and solidified the Statute of Frauds can be found in the case of Atlantis Realty Co., Inc. v. Morris, 142 Ga. App. 470, 236 S.E.2d 163, (Ga. Ct. App. 1977).

The lesson of this Blog Article? While it is possibly not evident, is that parties should always take the time to make a contract. Even more so, that certain contracts need not be in writing to be legally enforceable. However, if you are party to a contract, please take the time to put it in writing. If you feel a contract is pending, please take the necessary steps to have this contract put in writing. Truth be known, putting the contract in writing is only half the battle. If you are engaging in business with another party, please retain an experienced Atlanta, Georgia contract attorney to draft your contracts and make them binding on all parties. Additionally, by having your attorney draft the contracts, you can make sure your best interest are protected and promoted. I stated earlier that much litigation is generated from disputes over oral contracts. Well, there is a whole other sector that deals with Georgia contract disputes over poorly, ambiguously, or improperly drafted Georgia contracts. While a contract is just an agreement, in this business environment, a “handshake will not do anymore.” It is sad, but true.

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