This feature is a part of "The Dotted Line" series, which takes an in-depth look at the complex legal landscape of the construction industry. To view the entire series, click here.
The year started off brightly enough.
With promising new vaccines going into workers' arms at the beginning of 2021, construction's outlook began on a positive note. But soon, rising material prices spurred by supply chain tangles and surging demand started to dominate projects, as construction pros dusted off their project contracts to see what their options were for substituting alternative, appropriate building products, when they could get them.
As the national spotlight suddenly focused on the Seaside, Florida, condominium collapse, it brought up a new legal question: How long could contractors be held liable for construction defects after the fact? (Quite a while, as it turns out.)
While that question initially focused on what was built years ago, it took on new relevance later in the year as lawyers wondered out loud whether current product substitutions could lead to future defect claims, too.
By summer, another daunting legal question arose: How should contractors deal with vaccine mandates from owners on their projects, and how would they go about enforcing them among their workforce? That issue would take on even more prominence by the fall, when government vaccine mandates sent contractors scrambling to comply, even amid heightened vaccine hesitancy among the construction workforce.
Here, we've rounded up the leading legal issues and topics addressed in our award-winning Dotted Line column in 2021, so you can start off the new year with a clear-eyed view of what could lie ahead on the contract front in 2022.
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