Construction professionals at work

Being from Louisiana, I brace for June 1st every year: the start of hurricane season. It’s always a wise idea to prepare for another busy season along the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Seaboard. Preparing for hurricanes involves a lot of physical preparation, such as boarding up windows, stocking up on canned food (I prefer Chef Boyardee), and loading up on drinking water.

But there’s a mental aspect of it, too. Mentally preparing for a potential disaster can be just as important as gathering supplies. Part of that preparation should be understanding potential pitfalls if rebuilding becomes necessary.

And this preparation is also important for the hardworking people that work in the construction business, some of whom may be called upon to take part in the rebuilding process. Contractors, subs, suppliers, equipment renters, and others need to determine if their businesses are ready to take on the extra work that may come from a significant rebuilding effort, either in their home state or a neighboring state.

Hurricane season: Are you prepared if disaster strikes?

Property owners

Complete any repairs you’ve been putting off. The wind and water hurricanes bring will only exacerbate any issues you may have. Plus, after disaster strikes, finding good contractors and subs will become infinitely more challenging. And if a storm doesn’t hit, you finally took care of that work you’ve been meaning to do.

Make sure you’re covered by insurance. There’s nothing worse than finding out you’re underinsured only after you need the insurance. Misunderstanding insurance limits can also lead to payment disputes with your contractor.

Do your research on local contractors, subs, and suppliers. If their services become necessary, you’ll be a step ahead by knowing which businesses perform good work in your area. Plus, if you reach out and establish that relationship, you may be able to move toward the front of the line if repairs become necessary.

Understand the importance of lien waivers. Lien waivers aren’t just for big jobs — they’re for little ones, too. Property owners should understand the importance of these documents before a construction job is even necessary.

Construction companies

Make sure your licensing is up to date. What’s more, if you’re considering storm chasing, it’s important to remember that licensing varies state by state. Work that may not require licensure in your state might need a license in another. Plus, your license might not be valid once you cross state borders. Of course, in times of need, licensing requirements are often relaxed.

Just like licensing, lien laws and construction payment document regulations can vary greatly from state to state. Understanding the payment laws of the state where the recovery work will be performed is crucial. We’re talking about sending the right notices, understanding the applicable deadlines, and knowing you’re payment rights. Further, whether collecting or submitting lien waivers, it’s always important to know the lien waiver rules of the location where work was performed.

Research is crucial for subs, suppliers, and laborers, too. In the aftermath of a storm, construction labor and materials will be in hot demand. By researching and vetting local contractors and subs beforehand, those at the bottom of the project payment chain can prepare themselves for success. Once it’s time to rebuild, they can hit the ground running.

Research might be even more important for general contractors, though. After a disaster, contractors get spread thin and find themselves working on as many jobs as they can handle (and sometimes more). This means that a contractor might not be able to limit their subs, suppliers, and laborers to their usual crew. Doing extra research can help contractors identify who they will and won’t want to work with. Waiting until the rebuilding frenzy could result in rushed decision-making and poor hires.

In the wake of a big storm, insurance might be the single most important consideration for the entire payment chain. Contractors pray that insurance payments are released on time so disputes can be avoided. Parties down the chain count on both the insurance companies timely releasing payments and their clients and other parties up the chain parties making fair, timely payments. While it can be tough to predict for how insurance companies will act, understanding the potential pitfalls before work begins can only help.

Further Reading:

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Hurricane Season is Approaching -- Is Your Construction Business Ready?
Recovering from a natural disaster such as a hurricane brings many challenges both for the affected property owners and the construction businesses that perform the disaster recovery work. Preparation is key for both groups -- read this post to help get prepared for the upcoming hurricane season.
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