COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION IN NORTH CAROLINA: Late Payments to Subcontractors – is it legal?

On Commercial Construction Projects, North Carolina law provides Protect Your Small Business with Legal Counselthat a General Contractor cannot withhold payment to its Subcontractors just because the General Contractor has not been paid by the Owner of the project. Specifically,  N.C.G.S. §22C-2. Performance by Subcontractor states:

“Performance by a subcontractor in accordance with the provisions of its contract shall entitle it to payment from the party with whom it contracts. Payment by the owner to a contractor is not a condition precedent for payment to a subcontractor and payment by a contractor to a subcontractor is not a condition precedent for payment to any other subcontractor, and an agreement to the contrary is unenforceable.”

As the statute says, even if the written Contract provides such a “pay when paid” clause, the provision is unenforceable by the General Contractor as a matter of North Carolina public policy.

Moreover, any payment due to a Subcontractor from a General Contractor, or from a Subcontractor to its subcontractor, must be paid withing seven (7) days of receipt of the subcontractor’s invoice for work performed. N.C.G.S. § 22C-3.  Time of Payment to Subcontractors states:

“When a subcontractor has performed in accordance with the provisions of his contract, the contractor shall pay to his subcontractor and each subcontractor shall pay to his subcontractor, within seven days of receipt by the contractor or subcontractor of each periodic or final payment, the full amount received for such subcontractor’s work and materials based on work completed or service provided under the subcontract.”

Additionally, any late payments bear interest at the rate of 1% per month or 12% per year.  N.C.G.S.  § 22C-5.  Late Payments to Bear Interest states:

“Should any periodic or final payment to a subcontractor be delayed by more than seven days after receipt of periodic or final payment by the contractor or subcontractor, the contractor or subcontractor shall pay his subcontractor interest, beginning on the eighth day, at the rate of one percent (1%) per month or a fraction thereof on such unpaid balance as may be due.”

However, these rules do not require a General Contractor or Subcontractor to pay its subcontractors, as set forth above, if the subcontractor’s work is deficient in any way.  N.C.G.S.  § 22C-4.  Conditions of Payment states:.

“Nothing in this Chapter shall prevent the contractor, at the time of application and certification to the owner, from withholding such application and certification to the owner for payment to the subcontractor for: unsatisfactory job progress; defective construction not remedied; disputed work; third party claims filed or reasonable evidence that claim will be filed; failure of subcontractor to make timely payments for labor, equipment, and materials; damage to contractor or another subcontractor; reasonable evidence that subcontract cannot be completed for the unpaid balance of the subcontract sum; or a reasonable amount for retainage not to exceed the initial percentage retained by the owner.”

Finally, be aware that these provisions apply to Commercial Construction Projects only; not to Residential Construction Projects.  N.C.G.S. § 22C-6.  Applicability of this Chapter states:

“The provisions of this Chapter shall not be applicable to residential contractors …, or to improvements to real property intended for residential purposes …., or to improvements to real property intended for residential purposes which consist of 12 or fewer residential units.”

If you are a Subcontractor working on a Commercial Construction Project in North Carolina, and you have trouble getting payment for work you performed on the project, call Wesley S. Jones now for a free phone consultation.

Wesley Jones is a Construction and Business Lawyer in Wilmington, North Carolina serving all of Southeastern North Carolina including New Hanover County (including Wilmington, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and the areas of Ogden, Masonboro, Myrtle Grove, Landfall, and Mayfair), all of Pender County (including Burgaw, Surf City, Hampstead and Topsail Beach) and all of Brunswick County (including Bald Head Island, Bolivia, Calabash, Leland, Shallotte, Southport, Saint James, Ocean Isle, and Oak Island).

RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION CLAIMS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Attorney for General Contractor, Wilmington NC

Residential Construction Claims come about within a variety of contexts depending upon who you are in the process:

1. Homeowners:

Common claims that existing or potential Homeowners can have include claims against the General Contractor, a Design Professional (Architects, Engineers, Landscape Architects, Surveyors, etc.), a Subcontractor, a Material Supplier or a Real Estate Agent, among others.

  • Claims against the General Contractor include:  Breach of Contract, Delayed Performance, Breach of Express Warranties, Breach of Implied Warranties, Breach of Warranty of Workmanlike Performance, Breach of Warranty of Habitability, Negligence, Negligent Construction, Negligent Supervision, Negligent Inspection of the Work, Negligent Selection of Materials, Misrepresentation, Fraud, Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices, and Failure to Be Properly Licensed.
  • Claims against a Subcontractor or Material Supplier include:  Negligence, Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability and Negligent Selection of Materials.
  • Claims against a Real Estate Agent include:  Breach of Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of Duty of Loyalty and Obedience, Breach of Duty of Skill, Care and Diligence, Failure to Disclose Material Facts, Improper Accounting of Funds, Negligence, Fraud, and Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices.

2. Builders and Contractors:

Common claims that Builders and Contractors can have include claims against the Homeowner, a Design Professional, a Subcontractor, or a Material Supplier, among others.

  • Claims against the Homeowner include:  Breach of Contract, Failure to Pay, and Interference with Performance of Contract.
  • Claims against a Design Professional include:  Breach of Contract, Breach of Warranty of Plans and Specifications, Negligent Preparation of Plans and Specifications, Negligent Supervision, and Negligent Inspection.
  • Claims against a Subcontractor or Material Supplier include:  Breach of Contract, Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability, Negligence, and Negligent Selection of Materials.

3. Subcontractors and Material Suppliers:

Common claims that Subcontractors and Material Suppliers can have include claims against the Homeowner, claims against the Builder/Contractor, and claims against each other.

  • Claims against the Homeowner include:  Failure to Pay, Claim of Lien On Funds, Claim of Lien On Real Property, and Signing a False Lien Waiver.
  • Claims against the Builder/Contractor include:  Breach of Contract, Failure to Pay, Claim of Lien On Funds, Claim of Lien On Real Property, and Signing a False Lien Waiver.
  • Claims against each other include:  Breach of Contract, Failure to Pay, Claim of Lien On Funds, Negligent Selection of Materials, and Product Liability.

If you anticipate or are experiencing a Construction Law Dispute with respect to the construction or sale of a Residential Home, call an experienced construction attorney for advice and help.  Call Wesley Jones now at 910-256-5800 for a free telephone consultation.

Wesley Jones is a Construction and Litigation Lawyer serving all of Southeastern North Carolina including New Hanover County (e.g. Wilmington, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and the areas of Ogden, Masonboro, Myrtle Grove, Landfall, and Mayfair), all of Pender County (e.g. Burgaw, Surf City, Hampstead and Topsail Beach) and all of Brunswick County (e.g. Bald Head Island, Bolivia, Calabash, Leland, Shallotte, Southport, Saint James, Ocean Isle, and Oak Island).

Attorney for General Contractors in Wilmington, NC

Attorney for General Contractor, Wilmington NCJust a few years ago, many local contractors experienced devastating slumps in their business. In order to stay afloat, it became necessary for Wilmington builders to cut expenses wherever possible, which is understandable. Fortunately, in 2012, it appeared that the housing market finally turned the corner. In the past few months, home sales have been brisk and housing starts are surging. In fact, based on recent data from the Case-Schiller Indices, the website, www.moneyinsider.com, announced that the Port City is one of 15 U.S. metro areas expected to see continued gains from now through 2018!

That’s why now is a good time to consider retaining a local attorney who is skilled at handling the legal ins and outs that those in the field of construction face on a daily basis. Wilmington attorney Wesley Scott Jones understands the toll that legal snarls can have on your business and reputation. Here are just a few of the construction law services attorney Jones assists local builders with on a daily basis:

Contracts – Devising legal and binding contracts that cover all the bases, including your payment schedule, is vital in the construction industry. Wes can help create contracts that protect you, your customers, and subcontractors. With all of the possible things that can go wrong during a building project, it is best not to take any chances. Having an iron clad contract can provide a series of reference points and may even serve as a built-in checklist. Developing a comprehensive contractual document can protect you from a variety of issues and provide true piece of mind.  Wes Jones can also provide support and litigation services  to help settle contract disputes that may arise for a variety of reasons.

Permits – As any experienced builder will tell you, the process of obtaining proper permits for your projects is essential for success. Since time is money, this is another area where retaining the services of a local lawyer familiar with the process can save a bundle in the long run.

Subcontractor Issues – Contractors serve as employers to a variety of workers or subcontractors. Specifically, a building contractor who is an employer must take steps to make sure that employees are authorized to work in the United States. This is a requirement of the United States Department of Homeland Security, and this department requires employers to provide documentation. If an employer fails to check the employee’s status, the employer can incur substantial penalties.

Insurance coverage for these temporary employees must also be addressed.

Quality Standards – Having an attorney on your team is very helpful when there are any questions regarding the quality of workmanship. Attorney Jones can help establish the parameters that measure these types of guidelines. Defective workmanship is one of the most frequent claims made against builders.

In addition to these concerns, Wes can also suggest ways to avoid legal points involved with other aspects, including inspections, home warranties, and weather delays or damages.

Since building a new home or business is a huge undertaking and for your clients, one of the largest financial commitments they will probably ever make, having an experienced attorney on board conveys your integrity as a builder. To learn more about how attorney Wes Scott Jones can improve your business dealings, please contact our office at 910-256-5800.