Manager Contractor Feedback at Davis Stirling

Reprinted from byAdams Kessler PLC

There were too many responses to my article on contractor licensing for me to print them all. Following is a sampling:

Contractor #1What if a board member serves as project manager? -Jim P.

RESPONSE: As long as the board member is not paid to oversee the projectthere is no violation. The association, through its board, is the owner-builder and as such is not required to be licensed. Make sure you put something in the minutes delegating authority to him to oversee the project on behalf of the association. 

Contractor #2. 
With regards to managers acting as contractors, does this apply to in-house managers who are employed by and work exclusively for an HOA? -Claire M.

RESPONSEBecause your manager is an employee of the association, he is exempt. If you were paying a third party (a management company) to oversee the project, there could be exposure. 

Contractor #3. The management contract for our association calls for the management company to “monitor the activities of the contractor… including…the obtaining of contract documents, certificates of insurance, copies of bonds, warranties, releases of liens and other necessary or prudent documentation.” -C. L. 

RESPONSEThe case that triggered the Legislative action involved a construction manager who engaged in various oversight activities for an owner. Those activities included the following:

assist, on behalf of the Owner, in coordinating the activities of the various workers to enable them to complete their assigned tasks in an organized and efficient manner, on time and on budget; to maintain records such as insurance certificates, as well as the financial books and records for the project; to keep the Owner apprised of the status of the project; to be the onsite “point person” to respond to issues as they arose; and generally to act as the Owner's agent with respect to the various parties connected with the development of the project. Plaintiff had no responsibility or authority to perform any construction work on the project, or to enter into any contract or subcontract for the performance of such work. (The Fifth Day v. Bolotin (2009) 172 Cal.App.4th 939, 948.)

The court decided that these activities did not make the consultant a contractor. The Legislature disagreed and revised the law to broaden the definition of who needed a contractor's license. By implication that means that a manager who engages in the above activities would be subject to criminal and civil penalties if not licensed as a contractor.

Contractor #4. WOW! This is a big one. I agree that managers should not oversee construction projects. To do this the HOA manager should not act in the capacity of a general contractor. They should hire a general contractor when multiple trades are involved in the same project. They should never put themselves in a position of coordinating the work between sub contractors or dictating the “means and methods” of work. Managers should not oversee the actual work of the project which includes (from Merriam-Webster): administration, care, charge, control, direction, governance, government, guidance, handling, intendance, management, operation, conduct, presidency, regulation, running, stewardship, superintendence, superintendency, supervision. -Mike G.

RECOMMENDATION: Legislators have a way of targeting one thing and hitting something else. Perhaps if they were members of the NRA, their aim would be better. If a management company would volunteer to be sued, I could nail down how broadly the contractor licensing requirements will be interpreted. Until then, all I can do is recommend that boards and management companies take a close look at how they handle construction projects.