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Drone in Construction Site

Drone Technology in the Construction Industry

Drone technology has revolutionized the construction process, effectively cutting costs, risks, and labor. Drones offer distinctive advantages in the monitoring of a project and minimizing safety issues that arise in a complex construction project. Drone photographs and videos are valuable tools to map out the topography of large tracts of land, locate machinery on-site during a project, provide visibility reports for clients, and prevent workers from navigating hazardous conditions. They offer valuable information for a pre-construction site review or gathering data from a construction project that is in progress. They are useful for viewing pipelines, bridges, and inspecting damages of high-rise buildings without putting employees at risk of hazardous conditions, especially for force majeure events. Commercial drones utilize cameras, global positioning systems, and thermal infrared sensors to capture essential data for a site.

Risks Associated with Drone usage at Construction Sites.

   Beyond the apparent benefits of drone usage, construction professionals must understand the legalities and potential risks. Drones are considered unmanned aircraft systems. In 2016, the Federal Aviation Association introduced comprehensive regulations to monitor the usage of commercial drones. The Federal Aviation Association can impose penalties of up to eleven thousand dollars for each violation of their rules. These regulations, along with state laws and local ordinances that regulate drone usage, are ever-evolving. Construction professionals must stay current with these regulations and remain in compliance, or they may face legal consequences.

Some of the regulations for drone usage are:

  • A person that pilots a drone must have a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate through the Federal Aviation Association, which requires the pilot to pass a test on aeronautical knowledge.
  • Flight altitude cannot exceed 400 feet, and drone speed must not be over 100 mph.
  • Drones are prohibited from flying directly over people and are permitted to operate during the day or twilight hours with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
  • The drone pilot must maintain a visual line of sight with the drone and not operate from a moving vehicle.
  • Drone operators must yield to aircraft. 
  •      They must avoid restricted airspace unless they have applied and received a waiver.
  • A drone’s weight must be less than 55 pounds and be registered with the Federal Aviation Association.

Protection from Liability

   Drone technology is a trend that will continue to grow in the construction industry. As of March 2020, the Federal Aviation Association listed over 443,000 drones for commercial use. Many legal issues encompass commercial drone usage, and a construction professional must have risk management measures in place. It is essential to implement policies and procedures to ensure a safe operation for pre-flight and in-flight performance, and have guidelines for accident reporting and other legal issues.

   There is a potential for drone accidents to cause serious injuries. Cybersecurity and privacy is an issue with the taking of photographs and videos without authorized consent. Written permission should be obtained from employees and visitors to a construction site regarding pictures and videos. Drones are vulnerable to data theft of valuable proprietary information. Many companies outsource drone operations, which require a contract between parties to manage the inherent risks. Insurance policies are available to cover monetary damages for lawsuits. These include liability for property damage, bodily injury, violation of privacy rights, and other scenarios that may arise from drone technology.

The Boutty Law Firm Is Dedicated to the Success of our Clients

   The Boutty Law Firm P.A. is a multi-service firm that provides quality legal representation for the construction community in Central Florida. Our law firm can draft, review, and negotiate contracts designed to protect you from liability. We understand regulatory compliance and can counsel our clients on risk management matters. For disputes that may arise from the usage of drone technology or other business matters, we are your fierce advocates. We find practical solutions to your most challenging legal problems.

 We are located in Winter Park, Florida, and represent clients throughout Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Volusia Counties. Call our office at 407-622-1395 or 407-883-1024, for a free initial consultation. 

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Man reviewing estate plan

Estate Planning, Estate Administration, and Probate

Estate planning is often avoided as it confronts end-of-life issues, incapacity, and tough decisions about protecting and providing for the future of your loved ones. However, it is an opportunity to ease the burdens on your family when experiencing the emotional aspects of loss and grief. There are many options for estate planning that affects estate administration and probate. These should be explored with an experienced estate planning attorney. The Boutty Law Firm P.A. can assist with all estate issues for your peace of mind regarding the future.

Options for Estate Planning

   There are many advantages to executing a will. It allows you to name a trusted person to manage your estate after death, and if deemed as valid by the court system, it guides the process of probate. A will can serve as a legal document to determine the future caregivers of your children. While many believe that a Last Will and Testament avoids probate, this is not the case. State of Florida law mandates that the court intervene to validate the will, before the distribution of assets and debts. If your assets are located in multiple states, a probate proceeding must take place in each state.

   Creating a living trust is an option that avoids the probate process. It allows a successor trustee to manage your estate if you become mentally incapacitated and after death. Without court intervention, a successor trustee can pay off debts and transfer assets to beneficiaries immediately. When executing a living trust, a person’s assets are protected from probate only if transferred into the trust. A living trust affords privacy for the family, as it is not a public document. Other benefits include the saving of time and the costs of probate. There are many types of trusts, and an estate-planning attorney can guide you through choosing the best option based on your personal and business needs.

Probate to Settle Descendant’s’ Estates

   Probate is the process of identifying and distributing the assets and debts of a descendent, governed by Florida Statutes, and supervised in a court of law. Probate proceedings are Formal Administration, Summary Administration, or Disposition of Personal Property without Administration. 

There are specific criteria for each type of probate proceedings, as follows:

  • Formal Administration is a traditional form of probate that can be used for any estate. It is required when non-exempt assets exceed $75,000 or less than two years have passed since the descendants’ death.  
  • Summary Administration is a shortened version of probate, which applies if the descendant’s estate does not exceed $75,000, not counting the value of a homesteaded property.
  • Disposition of Personal Property without Administration is available for small estates with no real estate ownership, and the descendant’s assets do not exceed their debts, such as a funeral, medical and hospital expenses. It allows an heir that has paid these expenses to be reimbursed by the estate.

    Probate is designed to protect beneficiaries and creditors; however, there are disadvantages to the probate process.  

Probate is time-consuming, leaving the beneficiaries to maintain expenses. These expenses can be real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, funeral expenses, business expenses, and other debts while waiting for the court to process the estate. Probate is costly, which limits the inheritance of your heirs. Also, probate records are public information so that anyone can access and view the estate’s details.

The Boutty Law Firm P.A. is an Experienced Estate Planning and Estate Administration Law Firm

   At The Boutty Law Firm P.A., we can help you secure your legacy, with a comprehensive estate plan to manage your financial future. We can assist with the execution of medical Advanced Directives, such as a Living Will or Health Care Surrogate. These will authorize a person of your choosing to be your voice for medical decisions as a result of mental incapacity from a physical or cognitive disability.

    The loss of a loved one is an emotional and confusing time. 

Our law firm represents executors in a will and successor trustees in a living trust. Without estate pre-planning, your assets and debts are intestate. The Boutty Law Firm P.A. will assist a court-appointed personal representative, in the settling of an estate. In all of these roles, there are many complex responsibilities, such as the valuation of an estate, locating assets, creditors and claims against the estate, notifying beneficiaries, paying current and delinquent taxes, minimizing estate taxes, and the filing of necessary legal documents. To expedite the closing of an estate, our experienced attorneys provide sound, legal advice, and assistance in every scenario, including disputes that may arise, such as will and trust contests.

 Call The Boutty Law Firm P.A. at our Winter Park, Florida office at 407-622-1395, for an appointment to secure the future of your estate. 

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Property defects: property inspection

Failure to Disclose Property Defects in Real Estate

   The purchase of real estate is perhaps the most significant financial investment of a lifetime. There is a strong emotional attachment to real estate as it signifies a new beginning for a buyer. After having carefully researched and inspected a property, a buyer feels confident as they close the sale and enter into ownership. Eventually, the buyer may discover that there are undisclosed defects which affect the property value or prevent the property from being used for its intended purpose. What is the legal recourse for damages from the buyer after-the-fact?

 Real estate law in the State of Florida requires the seller of a property to disclose significant material defects that affect the property’s market value. If the seller has not disclosed defects, either by failing to remember or by deliberate concealment, the buyer is entitled to monetary damages. Even if real property is sold “as is,” the buyer is culpable for damages if they have not complied with full disclosure. For example, after the sale of a property, a buyer may find a damaged roof or water seepage, mold, or septic problems that were not obvious at the time of purchase. There may be environmental issues, such as radon gas, a history of sinkholes, zoning violations, boundary disputes, or coastal erosion.  

The Boutty Law Firm P.A. Protects its Clients’ Interests

The purchase of real estate has many complexities. When entrenched in a dispute regarding a failure to disclose property defects, it is in the buyer’s best interest to hire an attorney with substantial real estate experience. The Boutty Law Firm P.A. handles all aspects of real estate and construction law. Our skilled attorneys offer compassionate legal representation for disputes in negotiations, mediation, or courtroom litigation. We have a strong presence and can find practical solutions or powerful advocacy in the courtroom.

 In a Court of Law, the Elements of a Non-Disclosure Case are:

  • The seller must know about the defect.
  • The defect must affect the market value of the property.
  • The buyer must have evidence that the seller failed to disclose the defect.
  • The defect must not be readily observable to the buyer.  

Although not required by law, many real estate transactions utilize a Florida Disclosure Form to sell a property. It is critical that the buyer and the seller document defects, which become enforceable in the event of a dispute. Some of the items addressed in a Florida Disclosure Form are issues related to the structure of the building, pest infestation, water intrusion, plumbing, roofing, sinkholes, and environmental defects. The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 is a Federal law that protects the buyer regarding the presence of lead-based paint in a property if built before 1978.

Boutty Law Firm P.A. Serves Central Florida and the Surrounding Areas

   In any real estate transaction, the purchase documents are your legal safeguards for the protection of the buyer and the seller. To prevent disputes, The Boutty Law Firm P.A. will review and scrutinize real estate contracts for legal risks. Undisclosed property defects that the buyer discovers after the purchase of real estate is a breach of contract, and you have legal rights. Call our Winter Park, Florida office at 407-622-1395 for a free initial consultation to discuss an undisclosed defect dispute or any real estate law aspect.  

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Lump Sum Contracts

Lump Sum Contracts for Construction Projects

   A construction contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties that includes the scope of a project, the pricing structure, and the time schedule to complete the work.  It details the terms and conditions by which each party shall abide from the start of a project to its completion. A traditional agreement for a construction project is a lump sum contract, which provides a global price to complete a project, instead of bidding on individual items. This all-inclusive pricing arrangement includes labor costs, material costs, subcontractor fees, and also covers a contractor’s overhead and profit margin.  It should have a provision for risk contingencies in the event of unforeseen circumstances that may impact on the cost of a project. A lump sum contract has multiple components and can be complicated.  It is best to have an experienced contract attorney to negotiate and draft the agreement. The Boutty Law Firm, P.A., handles construction law matters of all complexities, using strategies and concepts designed to minimize risks to our clients. We can negotiate and draft contracts or resolve disputes, representing any of the parties involved in the construction process.

 Pros and Cons of Lump Sum Contracts

There are advantages and disadvantages for a contractor or property owner to engage in a lump sum contract. For a contractor, there is a greater margin for profit, especially if the project is finished ahead of time and a built-in risk contingency is not utilized. A lump sum contract requires minimal accounting documentation for the property owner, which saves time and reduces overhead costs.  For a property owner, it is easier to obtain financing for a lump sum contract, as there is a high degree of certainty regarding the total cost of the project.  The property owner is not liable for excess expenditures, unless it is addressed in the initial contract or unless the property owner requests a change order. A lump sum contract is considered low risk for a property owner.

There are some disadvantages to having a lump sum contract, especially for a contractor, as there is a high risk for cost overruns, such as increased material costs that were not accounted for in the contract.  The contractor may see the need for a change order during the construction phase, and the owner may reject payment on the change order, causing the contractor to be liable for the cost.  For the property owner, there can be lien waiver issues. If the contractor withholds payment from a subcontractor, there can be a mechanic’s lien file against the property.

The Boutty Law Firm, P.A. Offers Insightful Representation

The Boutty Law Firm, P.A. works diligently to achieve favorable contract terms for their clients. We take into consideration project inflation costs, the economic impact of change orders, and allowances for unforeseen conditions that affect the progress of the project.   We represent clients in residential and commercial disputes and claims through negotiation, mediation, or litigation. Attorney Shane Boutty is well versed in the application of construction law, as he is a state certified contractor and has owned several construction companies. The Boutty Law Firm, P.A. is located in Winter Park, Florida and serves clients in Orange and Seminole Counties.  We can be contacted at 407-537-0543.  Call for an initial consultation to discuss your construction law matter.   

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Contract Documentation

The Importance of Documentation Retention for Construction Projects

   There are many contracts drafted and signed for every major construction project and these documents can provide legal protection in the event of future disputes.  Construction projects generate a vast amount of paperwork and safeguarding these records can be a daunting task.  Implementing a document retention policy can shield a company from liability claims, as a contract, report, log, or record can provide supporting evidence for arbitration or litigation. Retention of documents is an essential practice for the success of a construction business.

 Common construction disputes include breach of contract claims including:

  • Non-compliance with payment, delays, scope of work disputes, defective work due to errors or omissions, and latent defects that can be discovered long after a project is completed. Workplace injuries and accidents, mechanic’s liens, property damage, negligent supervision, and copyright infringements are other types of claims.

    The length of time that construction records should be retained depends on the statute of limitations and the statute of repose. In the State of Florida, a lawsuit for construction defects must be filed within four years from the issuance of a certificate of occupancy or when the owner takes possession of the property.  The statute of repose, for latent defects, is ten years from the date that the owner takes possession. According to Florida and Federal recordkeeping requirements, payroll records are to be kept for a minimum of four years.  The Internal Revenue Service can audit your company as far back as six years, therefore it is recommended that tax records be kept for at least seven years.   

What Types of Documents Should Be Preserved?

   Be diligent about safeguarding your contracts and records, as documentation is the framework of a plaintiff or defendant’s legal dispute. The vast amount of paperwork for  major construction projects can include the initial contracts, insurance certificates, drawings and specs, design and engineering work, change orders, purchase orders, photographs of the construction process, bid documents, invoices, field reports, safety reports, payroll records, and business correspondence. The use of scanning for electronic storage may be a better option for document management than keeping manual records and it allows accessibility to the documents wherever they are needed. Another aspect of a business document retention policy is instituting detailed procedures that are used to destroy contracts and documentation that are no longer needed. However, intentionally destroying documents that are relevant to a pending litigation may suggest that the document contained information that is not favorable to your case.

The Boutty Law Firm, P.A. is a Multi-Service Business and Construction Law Firm

The Boutty Law Firm can provide counsel on all matters regarding construction and commercial law, from the bidding on a construction project to its completion.  We handle all levels of complexity for our clients, in both state and federal courts. Attorney Shane Boutty is a state certified contractor and his experience and knowledge is invaluable in minimizing risks and finding effective and affordable solutions for his clients.  We represent general contractors, subcontractors, developers, construction companies, homeowners, property owners, material suppliers, architects, and homeowner’s associations. Our law firm is adept at negotiations, arbitration, and court room litigation. Our goal is to protect your interests.  We are located in Winter Park and serve clients in Orange, Seminole, and Volusia counties in Central Florida. Call our office at 407-537-0543 for legal advice and quality representation.

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