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Construction Law

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Frequently Asked Questions about Construction Law

Q: What is a building code?

A: A building code is a law or ordinance enacted by a local authority that sets out the minimum standards that must be met for building design, construction, quality, and location. There are also specialized codes for plumbing, electrical and fire safety. Building codes also cover most remodeling projects.

Building codes are enforced by local building inspectors, who have the authority to deny permission to occupy or use a building that does not meet the building code.

Q: What permits do I need to get?

A: Every community has different requirements. You probably will at least need a building permit. You may have to obtain a special permit to build in a particular area. You should also be aware of any zoning or land use restrictions on the site where you plan to build.

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Historic preservation laws in many cities and states limit the right of a building owner to make changes to a building that would affect its historic character. Some restrictions may apply to just one building, while others may apply to whole neighborhoods. Historic preservation laws are not limited to old, elaborate, or famous buildings. Preservation laws have been extended to ordinary homes, in ordinary middle-class neighborhoods that are considered to have some historic or architectural significance. If you are located in a historic preservation district, you may need legal advice as to what you can or can't do on your property.

Phoenix, Arizona, Construction Law Attorneys

At Schneider & Onofry, P.C. in Phoenix, Arizona, we represent owners, builders, contractors, subcontractors, architects and engineers in legal disputes and other matters related to construction law. Our construction law attorneys are skilled trial lawyers. If you need experienced, aggressive and cost-conscious representation in a dispute over a construction defect, change order, shoddy workmanship, mechanics' lien or delay damages, we know how to help you. We offer representation to individuals and small businesses throughout Arizona. Our experience enables us to be efficient. So, too, does our paperless office. We scan all documents that come into our office and make them available to clients on the same day by e-mail. This saves everyone the cost of document copying, and enables our clients to be fully engaged in their cases.

Construction Law - An Overview

In recent years, the construction industry in the U.S. has seen unprecedented growth. Construction of both residential and commercial buildings has increased rapidly. With the rapid growth in the industry, however, has come a rapid growth in construction-related disputes. When you are faced with construction related legal issues, you need the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Construction Contracts

The construction contract is the essential document that sets out the rights and responsibilities of each party to the agreement. It is important that you read this document carefully, and that you understand all of it. The legal consequences may not be obvious, so it's important to have a lawyer review it with you. While some compromise may be necessary, you need to be certain that this truly is the agreement you want to make. If it is not, you should not sign the agreement unless the changes you want are made. You will be legally bound by this contract, and it is no defense to say that you didn't read it all the way through.

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Zoning and Land Use

Property owners are not entirely free to do whatever they want with their property. Most property is subject to governmental controls on the uses to which the property may be put. It is important that property owners are familiar with these restrictions before they attempt any major work on their property. An attorney who is knowledgeable in the real estate area, can advise you about the restrictions that may exist on your land.


Zoning laws or ordinances are controls on what a property owner can do with his or her land. While the nature of zoning restrictions vary from city to city, the most common type of zoning law restricts certain types of businesses to certain areas, and will limit other areas to strictly residential uses. Some cities have very strict, and wide-ranging zoning laws: not only are certain areas limited to residential use, but homeowners must keep fences below a certain height, they may not keep certain pets, or they may not park certain vehicles on the street in front of their homes. In some extreme cases, the courts have held that zoning laws are so restrictive as to amount to a "taking" of the owner's property, allowing the owner to make a claim for compensation form the governmental authority that made the zoning law.

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Construction Disputes

Disputes between a contractor or a construction company and a customer are all too common. Disputes often arise out of delays in getting the work down, unsatisfactory work, or a customer's failure to make payments. Construction-related disputes can consume a lot of time and money on the part of everyone involved. In many cases, the expense involved in pursuing a dispute is far out of proportion to the money actually at stake. An attorney with experience in construction disputes can help you pursue your claim in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Resolving Construction Disputes

Most construction contracts set out the manner in which disputes are to be resolved. Usually, those contracts call for use of a means other than litigation, such as arbitration or mediation, to resolve disputes.

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Hiring a Contractor

Hiring a contractor is something many, if not most, property or building owners will be faced with at some point. While some owners may want to do construction work themselves, for many, do-it-yourself is not a realistic option. Laws in many communities state that a licensed professional must do certain types of work, such as electrical installation. Most property owners will also conclude that they will, in the long run, save time and money by hiring a professional to do the work.

The relationship between a property owner and a contractor can work smoothly if both parties are willing to take the steps needed to do so. It can also be a contentious one. It can also work smoothly, if both parties are willing to take the steps needed to do so. An attorney with experience in construction law will help you do what is necessary to make sure things go according to plan.

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Construction Defects

The construction industry has experienced record growth in recent years. New construction sprang up in virtually every part of the country. Home construction, in particular, saw rapid growth: in 2004, construction of single-family homes nationwide hit an all-time high (for the third year in a row) of 1.714 million units. The rapid growth in construction was accompanied by a rapid growth in claims for construction defects, as homebuyers and other customers of the construction industry asserted complaints for faulty construction. An attorney with expertise in construction law can advise you about the best way to handle your claim for construction defects.

Causes of Construction Defects

Very few buildings are completed to absolute perfection, but not every variance in quality will be considered a defect by a court. The defects that are most often pursued are those that reduce the value of a building or that interfere with its use.

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Construction Law Resource Links

National Construction Law Center
Offers educational materials to those engaged in the construction process, with an emphasis on serving the construction owner.

American Arbitration Association
Resources on alternate dispute resolution, including construction-industry specific arbitration.

Contractors' Knowledge Network
Construction industry related research; sponsored by the Foundation of the American Subcontractors' Association, Inc.

HUD's Client Information and Policy System (HUDCLIPS) provides access to HUD's official repository of policies, procedures, announcements and other materials.

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Announcing Our New Yuma Office Location
Construction Law

Contact Us

Schneider & Onofry, P.C.
3101 North Central Avenue,
Suite 600
Phoenix, AZ 85012

Phone: 602-903-6853
Fax: 602-230-8985
Toll Free: 877-364-2870
E-mail Us | Directions

256 S. 2nd Avenue
Suite E
Yuma, AZ

Phone: 602-903-6853
Fax: 602-230-8985
Toll Free: 877-364-2870
E-mail Us | Directions

2 East Congress Street
Suite 900
Tucson, AZ 85701

Phone: 602-903-6853
Fax: 520-202-7363
Toll Free: 877-364-2870
E-mail Us | Directions