Volume 41, Issue 9 - September 2006


Contract Glaziers Speak Out: Keeping Jobsites Clean Pays Off

Glaziers cite plenty of reasons to keep their work sites picked up: safety, good customer service, reputation, repeat business and reducing liability. General contractors don’t want to clean up a leftover mess and if they do, they’ll assess a back charge. Glazing can be a messy job but most glaziers agree that it pays to keep it clean during and at the end of each project.

“If we make a mess we clean it up,” says Ervin Martin, president of Hub City Glass & Mirror, in Elizabethtown, Ky. “We don’t have it any other way. Things can get pretty messy during the course of a project, but our glaziers know that their job isn’t complete until the site has been cleaned. The way a glazier leaves his jobsite speaks volumes about his work and company. We’ve been in business since 1977 and we take a great deal of pride in how we start and finish each and every job.”

Joe Henderson, the project manager for Décor Glassworks in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., agrees. He says his glaziers are extremely diligent about the condition of their worksites. “As far as we are concerned, maintaining a clean and safe worksite is a big deal,” Henderson explains, “How you work and the condition of your worksite says a lot about you and your company. It provides visual exposure to the integrity of your shop. Keeping your worksite neat and free of potential hazards helps protect your glaziers, others who work at or pass through the jobsite and reduces your liability.”

“At Central Indiana Glass & Glazing in Lafayette, Ind., keeping our worksite picked up and clean extends beyond just aesthetics,” explains Steve Julian, project manager. “It’s about maintaining a safe work area as well. With representatives from a number a trades all working in the same area on any given project on any given day, it’s important to keep track of how the site is maintained—while we work and at the end of the day. We police as we go to keep tools, cords etc. out of the way. We clean off excess caulking, sweep up debris and try to keep the area as neat and presentable as possible.”

“Cleaning up after our work is an important part of our business operations,” adds Karen Umana, manager for Alfa Glass & Mirror, a small, family-owned glazing contractor that services Fairfax and Prince William Counties in Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C., area. “A part of our glaziers’ ‘tools of the trade’ includes an assortment of cleaning supplies. Most of our work is from referrals and our customers appreciate the fact that we don’t leave behind a mess.”

“I’ve gone in to clean up a site after another company has been thrown out,” adds Henderson, backed by four decades of experience in the field. “If you are sloppy on the job, it’s an indicator that you are sloppy in other aspects of your work, too. Some glaziers are very messy and some just don’t care. For us, [being messy] it’s unacceptable.” 
—by Peggy Georgi

ASA Asks Florida Supreme Court to Reject Insurance Bait-and-Switch 
On August 2, the American Subcontractors Association Inc. (ASA), ASA of Florida, the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America and four AGC Florida chapters asked the Florida Supreme Court to reject the arguments of insurance companies seeking to evade responsibility for the commercial general liability (CGL) policies they underwrite by stripping contractors of coverage after claims are filed. The organizations filed a joint amicii curiae (friend of the court) brief with the high court defending contractors’ rights to rely on the plain language of CGL policies that provide coverage for damage caused by construction defects in their subcontractors’ work. 

The joint brief urges the Florida Supreme Court to affirm a federal district court decision in the case of Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Pozzi Window Co., in which the district court concluded that a standard CGL policy insuring a general contractor covers the cost of correcting construction defects arising from the work of subcontractors. While that policy outlines some exceptions to coverage, it also states that an exception “does not apply if the damaged work or the work out of which the damage arises was performed on your behalf by a subcontractor.” 

The case arose on a multi-million dollar residential project in Coconut Grove, Fla., performed by Coral Construction. Auto-Owners Insurance Co. issued two CGL policies for the project to Coral and Coral’s president. The house, constructed by Coral, included windows manufactured by Pozzi Window Co., which were installed by Coral’s subcontractor, Brian Scott Builders Inc. The windows were [incorrectly] installed and the homeowner sued Pozzi, Coral and Brian Scott for replacement of the windows, as well as for damages caused by water leakage. 

Pozzi agreed to remedy the defective installation of the windows and filed claims against Coral and its president for negligent supervision of Brian Scott. Coral and its president, in turn, filed a claim under their CGL policies. Auto-Owners denied the claims, contending that there was no coverage for repair or replacement of the windows. Pozzi then sued Auto-Owners in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging, among other things, that Auto-Owners had breached its contract by denying coverage to Coral and its president for Pozzi’s claims. 

The district court concluded that the CGL policies do provide coverage for the repair or replacement of the defective windows. Auto-Owners appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals noted that “the main question is whether the ‘products-completed operations hazard’ coverage provided to Coral … includes Coral’s liability for the repair or replacement of defective work performed by [its] subcontractor.” The court observed that, although the language of the policies in this case seem to cover this contingency, the majority of Florida intermediate appellate courts have concluded that CGL policies do not cover repair or replacement costs. The court remanded the case to the Supreme Court of Florida to definitively address the issue. 

New Technology Raises Contractual Risks

With technological advances, architects, builders and others involved in the design and construction industries can create three-dimensional models with the development of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. However, BIM software is not yet in widespread use and has the potential to create complicated legal scenarios, according to the August 2006 Construction Law Briefing Paper published by Fabyanske, Westra, Hart and Thompson, P.A., of Minneapolis.

As the briefing paper explains, the advantages for using BIM are great. With all the data provided, it would allow for virtual construction and for designers to spot problem areas before construction begins. However, it could potentially also create legal problems surrounding ownership of the data used in creating the models when multiple companies are involved. Determining who is responsible for the quality control of the data used would also be unclear.

“As collaboration increases, the traditional lines of responsibility dissolve, and industry standard-form contracts do not adequately allocate risk and responsibility between the parties,” the paper says.

The paper does not seek to dissuade people from using the technology available, but advises “it is nevertheless prudent to be aware of the risks involved in this new paradigm.”

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