14th December 2017 | BIll Sand
Changes in population and industry are usually accompanied by a corresponding change in construction and maintenance work. North Dakota has experienced significant population volatility in the last few years and continue to experience changes as people move into the state and move around within the state. Construction may increase even without an actual demographic shift as people look to build homes and move into more permanent residences and businesses seek long-term facilities.
With increased construction activity, disagreements inevitably arise between customers and builders, general contractors and their subcontractors, or any other parties involved. The claim at the root of these disputes is essentially the same – that work was not completed to satisfaction or that payment was insufficient.
The most common legal path that these issues take is the filing of a construction or mechanics lien. Liens are covered by Title 35 of the North Dakota Century Code, which provides specific requirements for the various kinds of liens.
For example, liens related to well or pipeline construction have different requirements than liens on residential construction or portable storage units. The law details the rights and responsibilities of the original contractor, any subcontractors, and the owner of the property or customer.
Liens are intended by the law to provide a quick and relatively simple way to essentially put a hold on activity and preserve the status quo until the disagreement can be resolved. Actually, resolving the lien is more complicated, especially as more interested parties become involved. Sand Law has the experience and expertise to ensure that your lien is filed with proper notice to all parties so that it will ultimately hold up to a challenge in court, ensuring a successful resolution.
On the other hand, if a lien is filed against you, the low requirements of the initial filing can be very inconvenient. It is possible for a dissatisfied client or contractor to file a lien improperly, without sufficient support, or simply because of a disagreement about pricing. Even if the lien does not have the factual basis to hold up in court, in the short term the lien can prevent the property from being sold or transferred. In cases like this, Sand Law works with the lien-holder to resolve the dispute. We have a variety of tools available, including filing suit with the court against the lien-holder if there is truly no basis for the lien.
In some cases, the appropriate action may extend beyond a simple construction lien. North Dakota has detailed licensing requirements for different types of trades and industries.
In construction-related fields, the licensing requirements include provisions for insurance and bonding to ensure that customers are not left without a solution. Unfortunately, in some cases, we have found that a contractor is performing work without the proper license, or using the name of a different or non-existent corporate entity to perform the work. Cases like this may involve construction fraud, which is a crime carrying criminal and civil penalties under Title 43 of the Century Code.
If you have been dealing with a contractor that has abandoned construction after receiving payment or has failed to pay for services and materials, it’s likely that resolution will require filing a complaint with the secretary of state and then commencing a lawsuit against the fraudulent party. Unlike a lien, a lawsuit based on fraud will allow you to recover damages beyond the value of the project at hand. The court can order that other assets of the fraudulent party be seized to satisfy a court judgement.
Our attorneys have a successful record of representing parties on all sides of construction-related disputes. We have represented residential and commercial customers, builders, and contractors in resolving the issue, whether that looks like getting paid or having work completed up to par. Sand Law is the premier business and construction law firm with offices in Williston, Watford City, Minot, and Bismarck that stands ready to assist you with any level of business or construction dispute.
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