Construction Law: An Introduction for Engineers, Architects, and Contractors
Gail S. Kelley
John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, ISBN 978-1-118-229033
Success in construction requires more than design, technical and managerial skills; one must be fully conversant with numerous aspects of construction law in order to fully understand one’s rights and responsibilities.
From the perspective of the typical owner, contractor or subcontractor, the primary scope of knowledge needed to achieve a built project is fully contained within the boundaries of the construction contract documents (plans and specifications), including regulations, codes and other documents referenced in the contract. Knowledge of contract law is the primary driver for determining the risks and responsibilities of building the project and resolving any disputes. This has served as the foundation of this reviewer's own writings of books and periodicals about construction contracts and construction law. But there’s more to “construction law” than knowledge of the principles of contract law, in which Gail Kelley’s compact tome succeeds in teaching. Kelley covers basic legal principles, operational processes, contract administration and the roles of the various players as well.
The first part of the book begins at a more elementary level, precisely and in clear language, explaining the underlying principles of law, including government, the courts, codes and legal doctrine. If prior to reading this book one has not had a firm understanding of law, government, delivery systems and contracts, upon completing the first five chapters, the reader will be quite confident and conversant in the basis of construction contracts.
The next four chapters discuss the process of design, procurement and pricing of construction contracts and subcontracts. Building on the foundation of the first five chapters, readers of this book will now have a better understanding of their respective roles, risks and responsibilities that will result in getting a project into the construction phase. The construction industry is comprised of a community of many small, disparate businesses and professional organizations where individuals and their organizations often operate in their own isolated silos. This book provides the reader with a better understanding and knowledge of the importance of the individual work products he or she produces as part of the overall project. Knowing your rights and responsibilities, in turn, enables you to be more productive and quicker in your decision-making.
The middle third of the book traces the operational processes of a construction project, and continues to illustrate the importance of the various players. This includes understanding the ongoing role of the architect/engineer, particularly when the architect/engineering is providing contract administration services to the owner. Other relevant topics include contract completion and time extensions, payment, change management and acceptance. A nice touch added by the author is short, highlighted case studies used to illustrate various points covered.
The final eight chapters address contract disputes and what to do to manage risks. These topics include liens, bonds, insurance, terminations, calculation of damages, the economic loss doctrine and alternate dispute resolution (ADR).
We like Kelley’s book for its straightforward and concise A-Z coverage of construction law. It achieves its stated purpose of providing focused, practical information on legal issues commonly encountered in design and construction. By our count, Kelley addresses over 300 unique topics of construction law. This author wholeheartedly recommends the book as both an introduction as well as a reference for the office library.
Book review by Paul Levin, PSP
Publisher & Editor, ConstructionPro Network