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  • Writer's pictureDeLone Dawisha



Embarking on a construction project can be an exciting but challenging experience, particularly for Michigan property owners who may be unfamiliar with the nuances of the industry. With various aspects such as project delivery methods, pricing arrangements, contract negotiations, and insurance requirements to consider, navigating the complex landscape of construction project planning and contracting can be daunting. However, partnering with a skilled construction attorney can make all the difference in ensuring your interests are well-protected, paving the way for a successful project outcome. In this in-depth guide, we will explore the key elements of construction project planning and agreements in Michigan, emphasizing the invaluable role of a seasoned construction attorney in helping you achieve your goals.


1.) Comprehensive Overview of Michigan Construction Projects

To better comprehend the agreements and challenges involved in Michigan construction projects, it's vital to initially recognize the multitude of factors that can shape your project's course. Factors such as location, size, nature, and delivery method influence the overall planning process and determine critical decisions regarding contracts, pricing, and insurance coverage. By familiarizing yourself with these complexities, you can make more informed decisions throughout your project.

Location plays a crucial role in the planning process. For instance, different areas of Michigan may have distinct zoning regulations, building codes, permitting requirements, and environmental considerations, all of which can impact your construction project. Awareness of local regulations ensures that your project remains compliant, avoiding costly delays and penalties.

Size and nature of the construction project are also essential considerations. Projects can range from small-scale residential renovations to large commercial or industrial developments, each with unique challenges and requirements. Understanding the scope and specific needs of your project allows you to choose the right professionals, materials, and processes for successful completion.

Delivery method is another critical aspect of the planning process. It determines how the project will be organized and managed, impacting communication, decision-making, and accountability. Familiarity with various delivery methods helps you select the most appropriate approach to your construction project, ensuring efficient execution and minimized risks.

By understanding these key elements of Michigan construction projects, you will be better equipped to navigate the complex landscape of construction project planning. To ensure your interests are protected and your project runs smoothly, consult with a skilled Michigan construction attorney who can provide valuable insights, tailored advice, and expert guidance throughout the planning process. Their in-depth knowledge of local regulations, industry practices, and contractual issues can save you time, money, and potential legal complications, maximizing the chances of a successful outcome.

2.) Evaluating Project Delivery Methods: Which One Is Right for Your Michigan Construction Project?

Selecting the most suitable project delivery method is a crucial step in structuring and organizing your construction project in Michigan. With three primary delivery methods available, understanding their distinct characteristics and benefits is vital in determining the best approach for your specific project:

a.) Design-Bid-Build (DBB): This traditional approach involves the owner contracting separately with an architect or engineer for design services and a general contractor for construction services. This method is characterized by a clear separation of responsibilities, fostering accountability and encouraging a competitive bidding process. Although it offers a higher degree of control over the project, the sequential nature of this method can lead to longer project durations and a heightened risk of disputes between separate parties.

b.) Construction Management (CM): This more collaborative method entails hiring a construction manager to oversee both the design and construction phases. The construction manager works in close partnership with the owner and design professionals, streamlining decision-making and promoting enhanced communication and flexibility throughout the project. The CM approach can yield cost savings and better risk management, but it requires a high level of trust between all parties and may necessitate more owner involvement.

c.) Design-Build (DB): An integrated method, where a single organization is responsible for providing both design and construction services. This approach simplifies the process, reducing potential conflicts, and often results in shorter project timelines and improved cost control. The design-build method fosters a single point of responsibility, leading to enhanced collaboration and streamlined decision-making. However, it may limit the owner's direct control over design and construction details, making it vital to carefully select a design-build team with a strong track record.

A proficient Michigan construction attorney can assist property owners in assessing the advantages and drawbacks of each method, ensuring the chosen approach aligns with their project objectives and risk tolerance. By leveraging their legal expertise and industry knowledge, construction attorneys can provide invaluable guidance, helping owners navigate the complexities of project delivery methods and make informed decisions that lead to successful project outcomes.

3.) Decoding Pricing Arrangements: Find the Best Fit for Your Michigan Construction Project Budget

Establishing a transparent financial framework for your construction project is critical to ensuring its success. With various pricing arrangements at your disposal, understanding their nuances and potential impacts on your project is essential to making the most fitting choice. A seasoned Michigan construction attorney can guide property owners through the selection process, helping them strike the right balance between their financial goals and risk tolerance.

a.) Lump-Sum Contracts: Also known as a fixed-price contract, this pricing arrangement involves a single, predetermined price for the entire scope of work. Lump-sum contracts provide owners with a clear understanding of the total project cost upfront, mitigating the risk of cost overruns. However, this pricing arrangement may not account for unforeseen changes or adjustments during the construction process, potentially leading to disputes and delays.

b.) Cost-Plus Contracts: In this pricing arrangement, the owner agrees to pay the contractor for the actual costs of construction plus a predetermined fee, typically calculated as a percentage of the costs. Cost-plus contracts offer more flexibility, allowing adjustments for unforeseen issues or changes in scope without requiring extensive contract renegotiation. While this pricing structure can encourage collaboration and innovation, it may lead to less cost certainty for owners and require diligent oversight to control expenditures.

c.) Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) Contracts: This pricing arrangement combines elements of lump-sum and cost-plus contracts. In a GMP contract, the contractor agrees to deliver the project for a cost not exceeding a predetermined maximum price. If the actual costs fall below the guaranteed maximum, savings may be shared between the owner and contractor or revert entirely to the owner, depending on the agreement's terms. GMP contracts can provide cost certainty while still allowing for flexibility, but they require clear and accurate project definitions to minimize disputes and change orders.

A knowledgeable Michigan construction attorney can help property owners navigate the complexities of pricing arrangements, ensuring their financial objectives and risk tolerance are adequately addressed. By carefully considering the benefits and potential drawbacks of each pricing structure, owners can make informed decisions that safeguard their investment and contribute to the success of their construction project.

4.) Mastering Contracts and Agreements: Secure Your Interests with Expert Legal Assistance

Navigating the web of contracts and agreements necessary for a Michigan construction project can be a daunting task. These legally binding documents encompass crucial aspects such as scope of work, payment terms, project timeline, warranties, and more. Partnering with a skilled Michigan construction attorney can make all the difference in securing your interests, minimizing potential disputes, and ensuring the success of your project.

a.) Architect and Engineer Agreements: These contracts outline the design professional's roles and responsibilities, project deliverables, and payment terms. A construction attorney can help negotiate favorable terms and conditions, addressing critical items such as design errors and omissions, intellectual property rights, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

b.) Construction Management or General Contractor Agreements: Construction managers or general contractors are responsible for overseeing the project and coordinating with subcontractors. Agreements with these key parties should clearly delineate the scope of services, payment structure, performance milestones, and liability limitations. A construction attorney can ensure these contracts are comprehensive and protect your interests while maintaining a fair balance between all parties involved.

c.) Subcontractor Agreements: Subcontractors play a vital role in the construction process, executing specialized work such as electrical, plumbing, or masonry. Well-crafted subcontractor agreements should address payment terms, performance expectations, indemnification clauses, and insurance requirements, among other vital provisions. An experienced construction attorney can guide you through the intricacies of these agreements, mitigating risks and potential disputes.

d.) Project Change Orders: As projects evolve, changes to the original contract terms may become necessary. A construction attorney can help draft and review change orders, ensuring they accurately reflect the altered scope, costs, and timeline, while safeguarding your interests against unforeseen liabilities.

By collaborating with a seasoned Michigan construction attorney, property owners can effectively negotiate, draft, and review the multitude of contracts and agreements integral to their construction project. This expert legal assistance not only secures your interests but also contributes to a smoother construction process, minimizing disputes and maximizing the likelihood of a successful project outcome.

5.) Safeguard Your Investment with Adequate Insurance: Essential Coverage for Michigan Construction Projects

A comprehensive insurance strategy is vital to safeguarding your investment and mitigating risks associated with construction projects in Michigan. Partnering with a construction attorney can help property owners identify the types of coverage necessary for their project and secure the most suitable policies from reliable insurance providers. The following types of insurance should be carefully considered for any construction project:

a.) General Liability Insurance: This coverage protects against third-party claims for bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury that may arise during the construction process. A construction attorney can help you determine the appropriate limits and coverage to protect your interests in case of unforeseen accidents or incidents.

b.) Builder's Risk Insurance: Also known as course of construction insurance, this policy covers damages to the structure or materials during the building process, such as theft, vandalism, and weather-related incidents. A construction attorney can assist you in securing an appropriate policy that addresses your project's unique risks and vulnerabilities.

c.) Workers' Compensation Insurance: In Michigan, businesses with employees are generally required to carry workers' compensation insurance, which covers medical expenses and lost wages for work-related injuries or illnesses. An experienced construction attorney can help you ensure compliance with Michigan laws and secure the necessary coverage to protect your workforce.

d.) Professional Liability Insurance: Architects, engineers, and other design professionals typically need professional liability insurance (also known as errors and omissions insurance) to cover claims related to their design services. A construction attorney can guide you through the process of obtaining the appropriate coverage, protecting you and your project from potential design-related claims.

e.) Performance and Payment Bonds: These bonds offer financial security to property owners in the event a contractor fails to complete the project or pay subcontractors and suppliers. A construction attorney can help you understand the benefits of requiring performance and payment bonds from your contractors and ensure proper compliance with bonding requirements.

By working closely with a knowledgeable Michigan construction attorney, property owners can navigate the complex world of insurance and secure the essential coverage needed to protect their investment. This invaluable legal assistance enables you to mitigate project risks, reduce potential liabilities, and ultimately increase the likelihood of a successful construction project outcome.


In conclusion, navigating the intricate world of construction projects in Michigan can be both exciting and challenging. To protect your interests, it's crucial to understand the various aspects of project planning, including delivery methods, pricing arrangements, contracts, agreements, and insurance requirements. By partnering with an experienced Michigan construction attorney, you'll gain invaluable guidance and expert legal assistance throughout the entire process.

DeLone Dawisha

Principal and Founder

Dawisha Law, PLLC


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