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Laurann Asklof practices in the area of construction litigation, representing colleges, universities, public schools and independent schools in various construction projects. She has experience in the drafting and negotiating of construction contracts and the bid process. Laurann is the principal litigator for a national University’s construction infrastructure programs, acting as its Lead Counsel and primary construction litigator.


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Continue Reading No Environmental Issue Left Behind: Challenges for Public Schools

ConstructionChalkboardImageIn a previous Construction Corner post we discussed the procurement of an Architect for a school project. In this post, we will discuss the procurement of a General Contractor.

At the outset, it is essential to the procurement process that your solicitation document includes comprehensive, relevant, well organized and statutorily compliant content. This is particularly important for state assisted public school projects because CGS §10-287(b)(1) requires that (i) bids for the project be solicited pursuant to a public invitation to bid; (ii) the invitation to bid be advertised in a newspaper having circulation in the town in which construction is to take place; and (iii) the contracts for these projects to be awarded to the “lowest responsible qualified bidder”.

Additionally, if the contract for a state assisted project is estimated to exceed $500,000, CGS §4b-91(a)(4) also requires that (i) the invitation to bid be published on the State Contracting Portal; (ii) the contract awardee to be prequalified by the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services under CGS §4a-100; and (iii) the invitation to bid  identity the required prequalification classification.Continue Reading Construction Corner: Procurement of General Contractor

House construction contractIn a previous Construction Corner Post we discussed the primary elements of a design contract for a school construction project. In this post we will describe the basic elements of a construction contract for a school construction project where the constructor is a general contractor.

The basic business terms of a construction contract include:

  • Scope of the Work – what is the contractor building?
  • Schedule for the Work – when will the work be completed?
  • Compensation to be paid for the Work – how much will the contractor be paid?

Scope of the Work
The Scope of the Work is principally defined by the plans, drawings and specifications prepared by the project architect.  These documents, often referred to as the “construction documents”, are incorporated into the contract by reference.  The construction documents should be sufficiently detailed and complete to provide the contractor with a “road map” to the completion of the project. Complete and comprehensive construction documents will lead to more reliable bid prices and a more successful project outcome.  Because a state assisted public school project is not to go out to bid until the construction documents have been reviewed and approved by the Department of Administrative Services, the construction documents for these projects are relatively complete when the request for proposals is issued (published).  For public school projects that are not state assisted and private school projects, scheduling issues can drive a decision to bid a project before the construction documents are as complete.  It should be noted that there may be a “price to pay” for bidding a project prematurely as contractors will likely include a sum in their bid price to protect them against the uncertainties associated with the further development of the  construction documents. If construction commences prior to the completion of the construction documents, change order requests should be anticipated and it may become increasingly difficult for the project to be completed within the initial project budget.Continue Reading Construction Corner: Construction Contract Basics

In prior Construction Corner posts, we discussed statutory requirements and guidelines for the procurement of architectural services. Here we will address the basic elements of design contracts between public and private owners and architects.

As with any contract, the contract for design services for any project should clearly and comprehensively address the rights and obligations of each party – both those that are specific to the project as well as the general terms and conditions customarily included in contracts (such as dispute resolution procedures, notice requirements, etc.).

The basic elements of a design contract are:

  • Scope of services
  • Schedule for performance of the services
  • Compensation to be paid for the services

Although this may seem elementary, in the flurry of activity leading up to contracting with a design professional it is not uncommon for owners to give the design contract little attention. Many owners will actually proceed with design services based only on a letter of proposal from the design professional. A well drafted contract serves at least two important functions. First, a written contract is usually the culmination of an exchange of information and multiple discussions between the owner and the architect. This ultimately provides each party with a better understanding of their relative roles and responsibilities. Secondly, the contract will serve to memorialize that understanding which will be invaluable should a dispute arise.

Scope of Services
The traditional scope of services for an architect commences with the predesign phase, during which the architect assists the owner to define the owner’s project goals and concepts, and continues until the project achieves final completion.  The architect’s services, schedule for performance of those services and compensation are generally defined and allocated by project phase (schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding/negotiation and construction/closeout).  It is important to clearly identify services that are included as “basic services” (included in architect’s fee) as opposed to “additional services” (for which the architect will be entitled to additional compensation).

Most commonly, the architect’s compensation for basic services is a fixed fee or a fee based on a specified percentage of the direct costs of the construction. Additional services are generally compensated based on an established hourly rate.  Many architect’s contracts provide for an increase in compensation if the project duration is materially extended beyond that originally projected, through no fault of the architect.Continue Reading Construction Corner: Design Contract Basics

DesignProfessionalsImageIn the case of a design-build project, the owner enters into a single contract with a design-builder for both design and construction services. This is unlike Design-Bid-Build (“DBB”) and Construction Manager at Risk project delivery methods  in which the owner enters into two contracts – one with a design professional to design the project and one with a contractor to build it. -. Most commonly, the design-builder will be a contractor that has engaged a design professional as a subconsultant or a joint venture comprised of a contractor and a design professional. In this post we will discuss the design-build process and its benefits and drawbacks as compared to other methods of project delivery.

We should note at the outset that Design-Build project delivery is impractical for state assisted public school projects because grant guidelines dictate that, before the contract for construction can go out to bid, the final plans and specifications for the project must be approved in writing by the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services. Because a design-build contract is for both design and construction, it would be impossible to utilize design-build and remain in compliance with such grant requirements. Design-Build project delivery may be used for public school projects that are not state assisted provided that design-build project delivery is not prohibited by town charter or the purchasing policies of the board of education. For certain State and higher education projects, design-build project delivery is statutorily permitted. The ability to use design-build for private school projects is dictated by the policies of the school administration.Continue Reading Construction Corner: Design-Build Project Delivery

ConstructionManagerImageIn a recent Construction Corner post, we discussed Design-Bid-Build (“DBB”) project delivery. In this post we will compare and contrast Design-Bid-Build and Construction Manager at Risk project delivery methods.

As discussed in a previous post, if a construction manager has advisory responsibilities as well as responsibility for the timely completion of the project, the construction manager (and the method of project delivery) is referred to as a Construction Manager at Risk. Unlike DBB, Construction Manager at Risk project delivery utilizes the services of the construction manager (the “CMR”) during the design phase of the project. Although the design professional is usually selected first, the CMR is procured soon thereafter so that the CMR can assist the designer and the owner in areas such as constructability, cost estimating and value engineering. The CMR is generally paid a separate fee for these pre-construction services. Once the construction documents are complete, the CMR prepares a proposal for a contract price and construction schedule for the completion of the project and presents the proposal to the owner.Continue Reading Construction Corner: Design-Bid-Build vs. Construction Manager at Risk Project Delivery Method