Montana Construction Law

common sense Montana construction legal services focused on the construction industry and process.

Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law has experience representing construction companies, workers and contractors against alleged defective machinery or dangerous practices as it relates to construction law in the state of Montana.

The complexity of construction projects – large or small – requires expert legal advice to prevent or resolve problems that arise before, during, and after construction. At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law our construction legal team can help you confidently approach all phases of your construction ventures and resolve issues to minimize problems, expense and delays.  We understand how to handle your problems because we have been part of the building process.

Our attorneys assist in finding prompt, professional and efficient solutions to your problems and are committed to assisting at all stages of the construction process; from negotiation and drafting of contracts on the front end, through the various stages of dispute resolution. The legal team at Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law are trial-tested and available to assist clients through the entire litigation process, including mediation, arbitration, trial, and appeals. Our firm serves clients across Montana and North Dakota, allowing us to advise construction clients throughout the region.

At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law we have extensive experience in a variety of matters arising out of both public and private-sector construction projects. We represent owners, architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and sureties. In all manner of construction, including residential, commercial, and public works projects our team can help. Call our Missoula office at (406) 543-3800 to schedule your Free Consultation.

Experienced Missoula Construction Attorneys

At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law, we believe a small team of one or two experienced litigators is better than an army of lawyers, and that belief gives our clients the attention they deserve without waste or bureaucracy. Our lawyers have successfully litigated numerous construction-related matters and cases in Montana state and federal trial courts, and all levels of appellate court.

Even the best-planned construction projects can lead to litigation. Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law works to proactively avoid or resolve disputes, frequently using mediation and arbitration of claims involving cost, design error and project management.

We represent your interests in controversies involving bid protests and mistakes, cost disputes, design error, defective installation and contract disputes. These disputes typically involve multiple parties and are highly fact-intensive, you need an experienced Montana construction legal team to protect your best interests.

Our attorneys assist our clients in finding prompt, professional and efficient solutions to their problems and are committed to assisting clients at all stages of the construction process, from negotiation and drafting of contracts on the front end, through the various stages of dispute resolution. Our construction law attorneys are trial-tested and available to assist clients through the entire litigation process, including mediation, arbitration, trial, and appeals. Our firm serves clients across Montana and North Dakota, allowing us to advise construction clients throughout the region.

We represent public and private owners, developers, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers and suppliers at every phase of the construction process:

Construction Claims

As your construction lawyers Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law can submit a claim for added compensation and added time, and represent you throughout any dispute resolution procedures or negotiations. We can also submit claims for unforeseen circumstances such as unanticipated job site conditions, defects in designs, as well as delays, disruptions, or any interferences in work. As your construction lawyer team we will ensure all your construction related claims conform with any contractual obligations or legal requirements.

Construction Contracts

Contracts are critical in construction, Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law can guide you effectively in ensuring your construction related contracts are legally sound, grounded in reasonable expectations, account for proper notice requirements and job site conditions. This includes accounting for job site conditions, scheduling delays, insurance, and unforeseen circumstances. We can also provide revisions to existing contracts.

Construction projects can get very complicated, with so many stakeholders (contractors, subcontractors, architects and suppliers) involved. Our firm’s practice is comprehensive, covering a full range of contract types and issues. This includes:

Bidding and Negotiating
Preparing Contracts
Subcontractor Issues
Contract Terminations

Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law will help review current contracts, determine justifiable termination and follow the proper procedures to ensure a successful termination. We will represent you in any subsequent litigation or arbitration and prevent wrongful terminations or defend claimants of wrongful termination.

Our attorneys also handle a wide range of other contracts, from home improvement contracts to government contracts to supplier contracts and more.

At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law we have the proven ability to help clients create effective contracts and use them appropriately to protect their interests. Give us a call today to discuss your unique situation. Based in Missoula, we serve clients throughout Montana.

Construction Defects

New construction or rehabilitation projects — whether residential or commercial — do not always end up meeting acceptable standards. Construction defects that were either overlooked or covered up can come to light at a later time, resulting in significant financial hardship for the owning association or property management company. The legal system affords a path to allocating responsibility and recouping those costs.

Defective construction can cause problems for owners and residents in any type of residential or commercial property, including condominiums, rehabilitation projects, retail structures and office buildings. Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law has experience handling numerous types of defects such as:

Asphalt Defects
Condominium Defects
Defective Roofing
Defective Stucco and Masonry
Defective Windows
Design Defects
Electrical Defects
Glazing Defects
Inferior Building Materials
Mechanical (HVAC) Defects
Soil and Erosion Issues
Water Intrusion

Construction defect claims can pose a risk of significant liability, particularly for those without insurance coverage (or adequate coverage). The expert knowledge of Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law is essential for successfully defending against defect claims in this niche area of law. Contact our law office in Missoula, Montana to arrange a consultation and get the support you need.

Construction Disputes

Construction disputes are almost inevitable in Montana construction projects. At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law, our construction law team provides effective and efficient legal representation to property owners, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers involved in construction disputes.

Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law handles all aspects of construction disputes from negotiation, arbitration, and mediation to litigation and appeal. Our firm has many years of experience handling a wide range of construction-related disputes, including:

Bond Claims
Change Order, Delay, and Disruption Claims
Construction Claims
Construction Cost Accountings
Construction Partnership, Joint Venture and Corporation Dissolutions
Contract and Specification Scope Disputes
Defective and Nonconforming Work Claims
Discrepancies and Interpretations of Poorly Drafted Construction Documents
Insurance Coverage Issues, Including Wrongful Denial of Coverage
Payment and Collections Issues
Prosecuting Claims for the Payment of Prompt Payment Penalties
Prosecution of Claims
Surety Matters

We can effectively evaluate insurance policies to determine if an insurance company should be involved in the resolution of a dispute.

Construction Litigation

The construction legal team at Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law provides comprehensive guidance to property owners, developers, suppliers, construction companies, sureties and other business clients that are affiliated with the construction industry.

Based in Missoula, our construction litigation lawyers have an extensive collective experience in construction law and related areas. We are dynamic litigators with a proven track record of success in a broad range of cases.

You don’t need a large firm to tackle complex construction litigation issues. At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law our lawyers provide high-caliber legal services with unparalleled efficiency and value. Contact by calling (406) 543-3800 to arrange a consultation. We serve clients throughout Montana and North Dakota.

Contractor Licensing

At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law we provide comprehensive representation; from formation of a construction company and contracts and litigation, to providing our clients with the knowledgeable guidance and support they require.

One of the many ways that we help our clients is by providing assistance with contractor licensing issues. We help contractors obtain licensing and provide legal services to help our clients with regulatory compliance. Should you ever face disciplinary proceedings, you can rely on us for the sound advice and vigorous representation you require.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your legal needs. For assistance, contact our law office in Missoula, Montana.

Delays and Payment Claims

The successful completion of any construction project depends on staying on track with both the schedule and budget. When something goes awry, the interests of multiple stakeholders may be in jeopardy — from the project owner to the general contractor to individual subcontractors. Delay and payment claims are essential to enforcing parties’ rights. They also serve to allocate costs among the parties responsible for the delay or wrongly withheld payment.

Pursuing Delay and Payment Claims

Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law has achieved significant success in pursuing delay and payment claims on behalf of owners, construction companies and general contractors. We have helped avert serious financial losses for clients by enforcing their right to compensation. The contractual terms — particularly liquidated damages provisions — often provide the foundation for a solid recovery under the right circumstances.

Defending Against Delay and Payment Claims

Our lawyers have defended against numerous delay claims on behalf of construction contractors. Often, an alleged delay may have been due to factors beyond anyone’s control, such as inclement weather. In other cases, the delay may have been excusable — or it could have been due to the fault of the owner. Our legal team will carefully examine the circumstances of your situation to develop an effective approach.

At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law, our attorneys handle construction delay and payment claims for both plaintiffs and defendants. Our clients include contractors, subcontractors, owners, architects, engineers and others in the construction industry.

Infrastructure Projects

Properly insuring a construction project at the start is extremely. Once a construction defect is discovered, analyzing insurance policies for coverage and tendering the claim is time consuming and complicated. If an insurance company wrongfully denies a claim it is equally important to protect your rights. At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law our Montana construction lawyers will work with your insurance companies to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Our lawyers represent contractors, subcontractors and others in the construction industry in matters against insurance companies, including issues involving:

Comprehensive Liability Policies
Coverage Disputes
Faulty Design
Indemnity
Insurance Payments
Wrap-up Insurance Policies

If you are having difficulty dealing with an insurance company, we can help. Contact our Missoula, Montana construction law attorneys online or call (406) 543-3800 to schedule a Free Consultation to discuss your situation.

Insurance Issues

The development of a state, county, municipal and school infrastructure project is often complex, time-consuming and prone to many potential difficulties. At Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law, our Montana infrastructure contract lawyers handle all municipal construction matters. We will work to ensure that your project is carried out with a minimal amount of problems and liability. We have extensive experience in alternative project delivery methods and provide seasoned assistance with contract drafting and review.

Our construction contract lawyers provide legal representation in large and small state municipal projects and federal municipal projects. We are fully capable of handling any type of construction undertaking, including:

Highway Construction
Municipal Facilities
Pipelines
Public Schools
Recreational Buildings
Road Construction
Sewer Projects
Transportation Systems
Wastewater Treatment Plants

We provide dedicated assistance with contract bidding, negotiation and formation related to government construction projects. We have a deep understanding of Montana contract law, Montana state law and appellate court cases concerning contractor’s obligations. You can rely on us to put this knowledge to work for you in any sort of infrastructure contract or project. In addition, we will also aggressively represent your interests in litigation and alternative dispute resolution when necessary.

If you are involved in a large state, county, municipal and school construction project, it is important to have seasoned legal representation to protect your interests. Contact our Montana construction law attorneys by calling (406) 543-3800 to schedule a Free Consultation to discuss your situation.

Lien and Bond Claims

Liens and bonds are important tools designed to protect the rights of the various people involved in construction projects. They are critical for managing risk and protecting investments.

Pursuing liens and bond claims is a highly technical field of law which includes detailed procedural requirements and numerous rigid deadlines. Attempting to navigate these intricacies on your own can result in any number of errors and pitfalls. It is well worth the investment to hire a lien and bond claim lawyer who can enforce the lien or bond in an efficient, seamless manner.

The construction law firm of Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law provides highly experienced counsel in lien and bond claims. We have a proven record of success demonstrating our extraordinary level of expertise in Montana construction law.

Prevailing Wage Issues

Federal law and Montana law provide a number of protections for workers in the construction industry. One of the protections offered to construction workers is the prevailing wage. If you are a contractor or subcontractor who has failed to pay the prevailing wage rate to construction workers who have performed work on a public works project, you may be confronted with a legal action by a public entity.

If you are a contractor or subcontractor in need of a strong defense, contact Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law. Our attorneys are skilled at protecting the rights of contractors and subcontractors and defending clients who have been accused of failing to pay workers the prevailing wage rate. Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law will work diligently to protect your rights. We also advise contractors and subcontractors on proper compliance with prevailing wage requirements. To contact a construction law attorney at our firm, contact our law office in Missoula, Montana.

Protecting Payments

The construction law team at Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law will ensure contractors receives the full payment promised, covering a myriad of costs including labor, equipment, and materials. We will make sure all costs incurred will be covered in the terms of your contract. Our legal team can also take civil action to recover any unpaid sum, as well as file liens and claims against a payment bond on both public and private projects or defend you if you have had a claim for payment made against you.

Frequently Asked Questions

A construction lawyer handles a number of different legal needs, including but not limited to employment law, government contracts, and construction defects. As your law team, we can draw up contracts and ensure that you’re following regulatory guidelines, as well as represent you in negotiations and in court if it reaches that point.

It’s a good idea to consult with a construction attorney if you:

  • Are starting a new project and need to make sure that you’re following local and federal building regulations
  • Need to create a legal document, especially a contract
  • Need a new permit
  • Need to obtain government permission
  • Need to hold a town hearing
  • Are worried about an environmental regulation
  • Are having a dispute with your employer/employee
  • Need to file a lawsuit or lawsuit has been filed against you

For any new project or any concerns or doubts, having a construction lawyer explain the process may be very helpful.

A building code is a law or ordinance enacted by a local authority that sets out the minimum standards that must be met for building design, construction, quality and location. There are also specialized codes for plumbing, electrical and fire safety. Building codes also cover most remodeling projects.

In Montana a state building permit is required prior to the start of construction for certain types of new buildings, and/or for alterations, additions and repairs. Building permits must be issued on all required projects before plumbing, mechanical or electrical permits can be issued and before work authorized under these permits can start.

Montana state law exempts the following from the need to obtain state building permits:

  • Farm and ranch buildings
  • Mining buildings on mining property
  • Petroleum refineries and pulp and paper mills (except office and shop buildings)
  • Residential buildings containing less than five dwelling units (except when serving transient guests)
  • Private garages and private storage buildings used for the owner’s own use (not part of a commercial enterprise or business)

Under Montana law, you are responsible for the cost of supplies used to build or remodel your home, even if you have already paid the money to a contractor. If the contractor buys supplies and uses them on your home but fails to pay for them, you will have to pay for them or the supplier will file a lien on your home. Additionally, many contractors will offer to do a job at their cost plus a certain percentage as their profit. Some contractors may abuse this type of contract by doing the work slowly to drive up the labor cost.

Generally speaking, yes. An estimate is just that — the contractor’s guess as to how much the project would cost you. Be sure before you sign a contract that you know whether the price quoted is an estimate or a firm price. You may, however, be suspicious if the estimate was significantly lower than the actual price charged. If you were induced to sign a contract by an estimate that bears no relation to the actual price, you may have a claim for fraud against the contractor.

Oral contracts to convey interests in real property are invalid in Montana and Montana courts will not typically enforce oral agreements to convey interests in real estate. An oral construction contract may be valid in some cases; however, even if a verbal construction contract is legally valid, it is not a good idea. There are too many opportunities for misunderstandings and too many potential situations that could arise in any construction project. Both parties are better off with a clearly written document that sets out, in detail, each party’s rights and responsibilities.

In Montana, liens filed on private property or on funds relating to a public project are known as Montana Construction Liens or mechanics liens. When a Montana construction lien is filed with regard to work performed on privately owned property, it attaches to and encumbers the fee simple ownership of property. When a Montana mechanics lien is filed with regard to work performed on a publicly or government owned property, it attaches to the fund of money which the public agency has allocated for a project. The reason for this is that you cannot force the sale of publicly owned land (public agencies mean any county, city, town, township, public commission, public board or other municipality authorized by law to make contracts for the making of any public improvement in any city, town, township or other municipality).

Contractors, as well as subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and suppliers who have a contract with a general contractor or a subcontractor can file a Montana construction lien.

For residential projects, subcontractors and suppliers must give A Notice of Right to Claim Lien no later than 20 days after the date on which services or materials are first furnished. That period is extended to 45 days on residential projects where funding is provided by a bank and secured by a lien, mortgage or encumbrance, unless it is owner-occupied. Pre-lien notices (a Notice of Right to Claim Lien) are strongly recommended, but are not required for contractors who have direct contracts with the owner, wage earners, on projects relating to dwellings of 5 or more families or on commercial projects.

Contractors can file without a pre-lien notice, but subcontractors, sub-subcontractors and suppliers must send a pre-notice prior to filing a Montana construction lien or the lien extends back only to the preceding 20 days.

Montana construction liens on private property must be filed within 90 days of the last date the lien or provided materials or services to the Project or from the filing of a notice of completion.

The Fair Housing Act requires all multifamily residences to be designed and constructed in a way that is accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. If your construction project involves developing a residential property, all plans must be certified as compliant with Fair Housing Act standards.

IPDs, or Integrated Project Delivery contracts, are an increasingly popular type of contract that is designed to make collaboration on a construction project more efficient, both in terms of cost and time. IPDs are multi-party agreements between the owner, designers, contractors, suppliers, and key trade contractors working on a construction project that allow every party involved to better understand their role in the bigger picture and be held accountable to each other, as well as a single cost and timeline for delivery.

A building inspector evaluates the building project, usually several times, at various stages of construction, to ensure compliance with local building codes. In some communities, a certificate of occupancy is given only after the home passes a final building inspection. Home inspectors generally evaluate an existing home as a part of the sale or purchase of the home. Home inspectors look at readily accessible systems and components, but they do not certify that a home is in compliance with the building codes.

The first thing you need to do is determine how much of the contract price (assuming a fixed price contract was agreed to, plus any agreed change orders) has already been paid to the general contractor. The next step is to determine how much money, if any, is owed to the general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers (and their subcontractors and suppliers). Send a demand for copies of contracts and statements of account to the general contractor to obtain the contracts the general contractor entered into with the subcontractors and suppliers and to find out how much each is owed. If the contractor fails or refuses to supply this information, send demands for this information to each subcontractor or supplier you have received a notice to owner from, and any other subcontractor or supplier you know about from any information received from the general contractor. Next, immediately (before waiting for responses) get bids from other contractors for the cost to complete the work as originally agreed to (including agreed changes). Make sure the bids separate out the cost of repairing or redoing any defective work performed by the original contractor as a separate line item. If the cost to complete exceeds the balance owed on the original contract, you need to proceed cautiously or you could be liable for the excess. You will need to file a notice of termination to terminate the notice of commencement relating to the original contractor. You will then need to file an affidavit of your intent to recommence construction, as well as a notice of commencement. You may have to deal with multiple lienors claiming under the original contractor, which is why it will be important to be able to show the cost of completing construction as a reason you should not have to pay the full amount of their claims.