Construction professionals at work

The first debate between 2016 presidential nominees Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump resulted in unprecedented ratings. Whether you support Trump, Clinton, or neither, you can’t argue that the debate drew a lot of eyeballs. In fact, the event proved to be the most-watched debate in American history and spurred millions of tweets. While the trend of TV ratings has steadily increased since 1996, the jump from 67.2M viewers in 2012 to 80M viewers this year was quite substantial. If you missed the debate or would like to relive the experience, here’s a transcript from the New York Times.

With such a large portion of the US population involved in construction some way or another, issues in the construction industry were bound to pop up. This is especially true considering Donald Trump’s background of property development and management and Hilary Clinton’s father working in the industry. Whether directly, indirectly, or tangentially mentioned, here are some of the construction industry issues and topics that came up during the debate.

Construction Topics From the First Presidential Debate

Green Construction

The candidates may not have mentioned it directly, but green construction came up during the debate. Specifically, the candidates talked about combatting climate change, mentioned the utilization of solar panels, and further discussed clean energy. Green construction, or green building, has really taken off over the last decade or so. Whether it be the installation of solar panels, building of energy efficient projects, or the construction of a windfarm, the law can treat green projects differently. As green construction grows more and more popular, issues will continue to arise in this section of the construction industry. Currently, some of the biggest problems with green building is monitoring projects that claim to be energy efficient, properly insuring green projects, and a lack of litigation in the field.

For more on green construction, check out our post titled Where’s the Litigation in Green Construction. Also, is a great source for green building news.


Both candidates talked about creating jobs, though neither discussed the construction industry in detail. Perhaps they should have, considering the construction industry is home to one of the largest workforces in the country. Lately, construction spending has shot up. However, industry growth is seriously limited by the number of workers in the field. While this may seem like “good problems,” this is among the more serious issues in the construction industry. Both candidates should consider options to boost the construction workforce. They should also take a look at the Associated General Contractors’ Workforce Development Plan.

Changing Laws

Though legislation is not a function of the executive branch, changes to current law were regularly discussed throughout the debate. Be it through executive order or new legislation, changing laws are constantly shaping and reshaping the construction industry. One area we hope the laws will change is in construction payment. Under current laws, an environment of covering your own…rear…has become prevalent. At this rate, it appears we won’t reach construction payment utopia anytime soon. Until will do, you can follow along with our New Legislation tag on the blog.


While they may have gotten to the point from very different directions, one thing both candidates could agree on was that investment in infrastructure is important going forward. Apparently, state legislators agree. Lately, several states have passed legislation allowing for their departments of transportation to engage in public private partnership, or P3, projects. P3 projects combine efforts of public agencies with private investors, contractors, and management in order to best capitalize on available resources on construction projects. So long as public agencies are held in check by rigorous procedures and anti-corruption laws, P3 legislation is a great option to construct valuable public projects while also minimizing the cost to taxpayers.

For more on public private partnerships, we cover developments regarding P3 projects regularly on the blog.


During the lead up to this election, Trump’s bankruptcies have become a hot conversation topic. Bankruptcy in the construction industry is also a hot topic. Due to the unique payment system in the construction industry, firms can find themselves in financial turmoil at a moment’s notice. Homeowner and developer bankruptcy are also prevalent, which makes mechanics liens such a valuable tool. Mechanics liens survive bankruptcy and ensure that contractors, subs, and suppliers get paid. The industry also has other tools to combat bankruptcy, such as surety bonds which insure that public projects will be completed and subs will be paid even if the contractor goes bankrupt or otherwise defaults on their obligations.

Bankruptcy is also a regular topic on the blog.

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Mechanics Liens

The number of liens filed on Trump projects has also become a major taking point this election season. Political commentary is not the name of our game here at Levelset, but regardless- the spotlight being placed on construction payment is great news! It is virtually inarguable that the construction payment system needs overhauling, but one thing the law does get right is giving power to the mechanics lien. While mechanics liens may be a last resort, without them, contractors, subs, and suppliers would be without important leverage. By placing a mechanics lien on a home, a lienor gains a secured credit interest on the property. This interest cannot be shaken off through sale or bankruptcy, and the cloud a lien creates on a property title encourages property owners to quickly settle the payment dispute. Should a lienor remain unpaid, they can foreclose the lien and become whole through a share of the proceeds from the sale. In the event the debt is paid, the lien is cancelled and everyone can move on.


As a testament to the construction industry’s importance to the American public, construction topics and issues popped up left and right during last night’s presidential debate. Whether directly mentioned or merely alluded to, the construction industry was one of the more prevalent topics of the debate. Regardless of who winds up in the Oval Office, the next president should keep the construction industry in the forefront of their minds. Whether you’re With Her or aiming to Make America Great Again, building a better future will require plenty of help from the construction industry.

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The Presidential Debate Highlighted Issues in the Construction Industry
Last night's presidential debate was the most watched in television history. Issues in the construction industry were highlighted throughout the debate.
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