When you’re planning a major construction or renovation project for your business or for your home, the importance of hiring a general contractor is obvious. However, the assistance of other professionals may be necessary - namely, an architect or engineer, banker, accountant, insurance agent and, of course, an attorney! Each of these professionals plays an important role and must work together in order for you to successfully complete the project. If you’re planning to start a big project and wondering who you need to talk to, here’s a quick summary of what each of these professionals can bring to the table.
Engineer or Architect
Depending upon your project, you may require the help of an engineer or architect. These professionals can assist in determining the scope of the project, preparing the construction documents, formulating requests for proposal, soliciting bids from contractors, evaluating the bids, selecting the contractor, and inspecting the work during the course of the project. An engineer or architect can also ensure that the construction or renovation project complies with all applicable building codes, including environmental codes. Finally, if you and your contractor execute an “AIA” contract, a form contract produced by The American Institute of Architects (and the most widely used standard contact in the construction industry), these contracts require an architect or engineer to inspect the work to ensure that it has been properly completed before payments are remitted to the contractor.
Frequently, a bank loan is needed to pay for all or a part of the work involved with a construction or renovation project. A banker can assist in determining how much of a loan you or your business will qualify for and the best type of loan product for you. Knowing how much money you will have for your project and the timing and amount of the repayment to the bank may determine the scope of your project. Note that often the banker will require a certificate of payment from the architect or engineer before releasing any funds to your contractor.
When undertaking a major construction or renovation project, it is important for your contractor and any sub-contractors working on the project to have adequate insurance coverage. Note that the AIA contract does contain specific insurance requirements for the contractor. Your insurance agent can verify that there is adequate coverage and that the appropriate endorsements are obtained so that you or your business is named as “additional insured” on your contractor’s policies. Your insurance agent can also determine whether you have adequate coverage on your policies to protect you in case something goes wrong.
An accountant can assist in preparing a budget for your project and, if you decide to obtain a loan, budget for the repayment of the debt service. Your accountant can also determine if the project qualifies for any tax credits and if any of the interest on a loan is tax deductible. Finally, an accountant can ensure that the bank loan is properly recorded on your business’ books and records for tax and auditing purposes.
An attorney will also play an important role in your project. The attorney can review all contracts to ensure that the terms are clear and unambiguous and that your interests as the owner are adequately protected. Even when using AIA contact, it is important to have an attorney review, and probably prepare an addendum to, the contract, because AIA contracts primarily protect the interests of the architect or engineer, and not necessarily the owner. If you are obtaining a bank loan to finance the project, an attorney can review the loan documents. In the case of a business loan, the attorney can review the business’ organizational documents to ensure that all of the necessary approvals have been obtained to enter into the loan and prepare the appropriate corporate resolutions. Often for larger business loans, banks require an opinion of counsel, whereby an attorney represents and warrants to the bank that the business has the authority to obtain the loan and has followed all of the necessary procedures in doing so.
Contemplating a construction or large renovation project can be a major undertaking for you and your business. Having all of the right professionals in place makes the process much more manageable, protects you and your business, and gives your project the greatest chance of being a success.
Susan Rapaport is an attorney with the Community Association practice group at Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny, LLC. For questions about this article or other questions about Community Associations, please do not hesitate to contact Susan at 410.995.5800 or via email.