Construction Law in North Carolina: An archive of excellent ideas

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brumback blog
A post from Mellisa Dewey Brumback's Construction Law in North Carolina Blog, one of the longest-published blogs in the annual Best Construction Blog competition
brumback blog
A post from Melissa Dewey Brumback’s Construction Law in North Carolina Blog, one of the longest-published blogs in the annual Best Construction Blog competition,

Melissa Dewey Brumback’s Construction Law in North Carolina describes hers as “The ORIGINAL blog for architects, engineers, designers, & other construction professionals” accurately. This blog has been a participant in the Best Construction Blog competition since the contest’s inception, and in fact won in 2011.

If I have any quibbles, these relate to the lack of recent updates. The last post, an excellent guest submission about dealing with Hispanic crews in Raleigh, dates back to Oct. 30, 2015. Before then, the blog had frequent fresh and relevant posts.

Fortunately, the archived content within the last year remains worthy. Melissa has effectively combined her own writing with well-selected guest post submissions. (This requires some thought. I receive upwards of three requests a day from outsiders wishing to contribute guest posts to my blog — they are trying to juice their own search engine/Google rankings.)

Here, for example, in Lessons from a Diner: Up Front Costs can Save You Money in your Engineering Practice (law note) she outlines the dangers of short-sighted cost-cutting on professional services:

I happen to frequent a place in my hometown called Elmo’s Diner.  A lot.  As in, many of the servers know me by name.  The food is good, yes. The selection is great. But there is a much more important reason that I go there over and over again– the service. Elmo’s seems to always have enough staff on hand, and they also work together to make sure your wait is never very long.

There are some other places in town that skimp on hiring waiters and waitresses. I guess they figure, the fewer they have working at any one time, the less money they have to pay out. Even though, of course, waiter minimum wage is much lower than regular minimum wage due to the tip factor. But some of these other places (who shall remain unnamed) really do seem to have the mindset that they will save money by not hiring enough staff for the number of customers.

Maybe that thinking works for them- in the short run. Do you know how much money I spend at Elmo’s Diner? Let’s just put it this way– I really should invest in direct deposit with them! These other places? I forget, and go to them every now and again, thinking, it can’t be all bad, right? And almost always, I remember why I do NOT go to them.

Now, back to construction.  Many professional service firms are like the unmentionable restaurants above– they skimp on things that “cost money”. Notably, in two areas (1) professional liability insurance (errors & omissions coverage), and (2) getting legal assistance at the beginning of a project. These architects & engineers are making the same short-sighted mistake, thinking they are “saving money.” And yet, very often, in the long run they are costing themselves money– in contract disputes, legal wrangling at project end, or in paying out of pocket for large claims.

You should have E&O insurance if you are a working professional. Period. You should also have your contracts and proposals reviewed by a lawyer. Preferably, before any major new undertaking. The up front costs are small, but the impact can be huge. Just ask anyone at Elmo’s.

I think several architects and engineers, as well as other design consultants and specialists, would nod in agreement about this concept, especially in Canada, where professional services seeking public sector work do not have Brooks Act protection. The costs downstream of shortsighted cuts in upfront professional service investments are truly outrageous. (Maybe we could say the same for marketing budgets.)

You can vote for Melissa’s blog here. Note that unlike some other competitions — and in this one in a previous year — I haven’t imposed IP address restrictions so multiple entries from the same office address/location are okay. The key to keeping the contest fair is the independent judging component, so you don’t need to pack the voting ranks to win; you just need to obtain enough votes to rank in the top seven blogs to have a fair shot at success.

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