Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Why I Enjoy Visiting a Job Site

English: Plan from ground floor of train stati...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week a friend of mine at a local construction company invited me to lunch and for a tour of a local project here in Richmond. This was the third visit to this project that was to take an historic train station and renovate it into a newer working train station along with space for a glass enclosed “outdoor market” on the top floor with offices and other facilities on the ground floor.

The first visit was during the early demolition phase. At this stage, my pal told me what was going to be where and the vision for the project. The second visit had a bit more polish to it and I could see even more where the project was going. Some demo was still occurring but more of the “shape” of the project was visible.

This latest visit, now even farther along, showed most of the envelope of the project completed on the second floor/railroad platform. The glass on the sides of the building was installed (complete with rubber grommet connectors to absorb the vibrations from passing trains) and the stain for the ceiling was being applied. The HVAC was being installed and I could truly picture the way this building would look on completion.

For someone that spends his days looking at the two dimensional “rendering” of these projects: namely, the construction contracts, some photos of certain parts of projects, and the drawings, getting a picture of the construction of this project in 3D has been invaluable and frankly, pretty cool. As a construction attorney, I am buried in the details of a contract and the paperwork (notices, lien waivers, etc.) that accompany every commercial construction project. I am often called in once a claim has been made or needs to be made and don’t often get to see a project being built from an overall perspective.

Aside from getting out of the office and satisfying my personal curiosity about a project, getting a tour such as the one described here lets me better serve my construction clients. Visits to construction projects let me visualize the construction in real time and in a real world setting that often does not appear simply from the snap shot of one portion of a project that a claim inevitable concerns. I can also more intelligently discuss scopes of work (a critical part of any construction contract because it sets proper expectations) because I can “see” the end result and the process to get there better than if I simply reviewed the paperwork.

In short, I truly enjoy visiting project sites because I can get some fresh air, hang out with folks I like to represent and socialize with, and I get a perspective that lets me make more relevant and practical recommendations to my construction clients.

Can you think of other benefits? Do you enjoy site visits? Let me know below.

As always, I welcome and encourage your comments below, please share your thoughts. Also, please subscribe to keep up with the latest Construction Law Musings.

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3 Responses to Why I Enjoy Visiting a Job Site

  1. I’ve found over the years that it never hurts to have another set of eyes on a project especially someone other than a contractor, someone with a fresh prospective . I love the ” what is that ” kind of questions. Its all the things that we take for granted in our day to day operations.

  2. Thanks for checking in. I do like asking those questions. As a lawyer, I tend to learn through question and answer.

  3. I can definitely say an on-site makes me appreciate the hard work those construction contractors have to do, as well as give a lot more insight to a project / location just like you said.

    Actually in my experience it’s not uncommon in engineering jobs for the company to send engineers out to a client site (or similar situation) to have a better understanding of the end product and a customer’s needs.

    Often there’s a *huge* gap between the design and middle management side and the world of the end user or buyer, I’ve learned. That helps close it a bit.

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