When a natural disaster is on the horizon, there are a million things to worry about. Obviously, safety is number one. But it’s also worth keeping an eye forward. After major storms like Hurricane Florence, there will likely be lots of property damage and lots of construction work. The rush to repair homes and businesses can be a chaotic time for property owners, but it’s a chaotic time for construction businesses, too.
With that in mind, we’ve noticed that the same issues tend to pop up after disasters like Hurricane Florence. That’s why we thought it’d be a good idea to create one resource applicable to every state. Enter: The Playbook for Disaster Recovery.
While the Playbook can help, there are differences state-by-state. Here are some Carolina-specific issues to keep in mind as Hurricane Florence bears down.
Click Here To Download the 2-page Disaster Recovery Cheat Sheet
Recovering From Hurricane Florence: Specifics for the Carolinas
It’s common for contractors and subs to cross state lines after a storm. It’s a win-win! For one, there are countless families and businesses who need help getting back on their feet, and repairing the homes and buildings that house them is high-priority. On the other side of the coin, it’s easy to find good work for construction businesses. However, it’s important to keep some things in mind when helping rebuild after a storm. Let’s look at some factors construction businesses should take into account prior to Hurricane Florence recovery work.
Only perform work that you’re licensed to do! It sounds simple, but when you’re crossing state lines, it’s easy to miss.
Often, licensure requirements will be loosened (and sometimes scrapped altogether) in the wake of a disaster. But until that’s officially announced by a governing body, play it safe! Performing unlicensed work (where a license is required) could lead to serious legal consequences. Plus, it can be a lot harder for unlicensed contractors to recover payment for their work.
South Carolina Notice of Commencement
In South Carolina, a Notice of Commencement isn’t a required document – it’s up to the discretion of the GC. Still, filing a South Carolina Notice of Commencement can be beneficial to the owner, the contractor, and everyone else along the payment chain. Filing a Notice of Commencement can limit lien exposure, increase project visibility, and provide down-the-chain contractors and subs with important information.
If you’d like to learn more about the Notice of Commencement document in South Carolina, this article takes a deeper dive: South Carolina’s Notice of Commencement is a Little Bit Odd.
Notice Requirements For North and South Carolina
Nobody ever wants to file a lien. And this is doubly true in the wake of a natural disaster. Still, getting paid the money you’ve earned is important, and in order to do that, you have to abide by notice requirements. Sending notices improves visibility and communication, which helps to avoid payment disputes in the first place. Plus, if the project does go sideways, at least contractors who send notice will be able to leverage their right to lien.
In North Carolina, if a lien agent is present, a Notice to Lien Agent must be sent within 15 days from the first furnishing of labor or materials to the project. Further, prime contractors can protect their interests by filing a Notice of Contract. If utilized, a Notice of Contract must be filed by the GC within 30 days after the building permit is issued for the project.
Is notice required? It depends. As mentioned above, a Notice of Commencement may be filed by a GC. But sub-subcontractors and suppliers have a mandatory notice requirement – a Notice of Furnishing. There isn’t a strict timeframe for sending this notice, but the earlier the better. Unless a Notice of Furnishing has been provided, the total amount of any mechanics liens filed by a sub-sub or supplier can’t exceed the amount owed from the contractor to the sub.
We’ve got great breakdowns of these requirements on the here: North Carolina Preliminary Notice: Everything You Need to Know and South Carolina Mechanics Lien & Notice FAQs.
Dealing With Insurance
If you’re worried about dealing with insurance, we don’t blame you. In times of recovery, it will be very important to anticipate potential problems when dealing with insurance. There’s too much ground to cover for this post, but in The Payment Perils of Property Restoration Companies, we take a look at a number of potential issues, such as: timing the claims process, potential for misallocated funds, change orders, and a shortage of funds.
Finally, remember that promises to pay don’t mean much for your lien deadlines, and insurance check delays can affect your payment rights.
Special Resource for Roofers
After a storm, roofers are a hot commodity. Mechanic lien rules that apply to other contractors and subs will also apply to roofers – but there are some unique considerations. That’s why we put this resource together: How Roofers Can Make Sure They Get Paid on Their Jobs.
Remember though – liens should really be a last resort. Proactively establishing communication on the job will often stop disputes before they start.
Wrapping It Up
Natural disasters can bring out the best in people – communities stand together, helping one another until life resembles normalcy. Construction plays a huge part in that. While you may be eager to help in the recovery, it’s important to get your ducks in a row, too. If other storms provide any precedent for the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, contractors and subs should know they need to play by the rules. Otherwise, issues and disputes can distract from the recovery effort.