W. James Johnson: Schedule A Consultation

Read the second half of James Johnson's article on (often avoidable) legal issues that can arise when building a custom home in the July 2015 edition of Capital at Play Magazine: Part 2: Keep your "Dream Home" from Turning into a Nightmare. In this month's installment, Johnson offers information and tips on architect and contractor licensure, insurance, contract negotiation, construction finance, and risk allocation.

"Whether the owner starts from industry form documents or a custom agreement, preparation of the contract involves several steps. First the contract needs to reflect the working agreement between parties. It's no use talking about an agreement to build a certain house in a certain amount of time at a certain price, and then sign something that reads totally differently because the parties never put in the time to get it right. The contract is designed to capture the written intent of the parties and clarity is key. Clarity takes time and deliberate effort to achieve, so put the time in. I am always surprised that two parties will spend months working up to an agreement and then expect the agreement can be reduced to writing overnight. Patience is a virtue."

The article also points to common risks, such as escalating costs, site issues, and design errors, that savvy owners will address long before construction begins. Just as in Part 1, in Part 2 Johnson shares insights he has gained overs his 13 years of experience as a practicing construction lawyer to help owners during the planning phase so that they can avoid problems on the back end.

James Johnson leads the Van Winkle Law Firm's Construction and Professional Design group. He has represented owners, contractors, developers and design professionals on both public and private projects throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. His practice experience includes the preparation and negotiation of agreements, project disputes and claims, to litigation, mediation and arbitration of a variety of construction matters, including claims of defective construction and design, subcontractor disputes, delays and sureties, and liens. Johnson speaks and publishes frequently on construction law topics.