July 29, 2021
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Surety & Insurance Market Trends
Experts: Fla. condo collapse spurs risk-modeling questions
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
How catastrophe risk on Florida's coastline is modeled might need to be reevaluated in light of the partial collapse of a condominium building in Surfside, although modelers and rating firms are waiting for more definitive information about the collapse before making any changes, experts say. Insurance demand for similar condo buildings is outpacing supply, says Kroll's David Prager, who suggests that insurers could help mitigate structural risks by mandating that condo boards have access to the expertise of construction engineers.
Full Story: S&P Global (7/26) 
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Skanska’s Unique Approach to Partnering with Contractors
Learn how Skanska developed an innovative approach to reducing risk when hiring subcontractors on its LaGuardia Redevelopment project. The company worked to understand each partner's challenges and improved their safety culture through training, policies, and systems. Download Case Study.
On the Radar Screen
Aon and Willis Towers Watson say they are no longer pursuing a $30 billion merger in light of Justice Department litigation challenging the proposed deal. The move is intended to conclude the litigation, with Aon citing an "impasse" with the Justice Department and paying a $1 billion termination fee to Willis.
Full Story: Reuters (7/26),  The Wall Street Journal (7/26),  Law360 (7/26) 
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Two separate modular buildings that caught fire in Shetland, Scotland, have some experts questioning the safety of the building technique. One designer has noted that contractors must be careful not to allow combustible materials in cavities between modules.
Full Story: BBC (free registration) (7/27) 
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The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline that led to gasoline shortages across the East Coast is the type of event the Biden administration wants to avoid with a more coordinated cybersecurity defense of crucial infrastructure. The effort includes developing performance goals and voluntary, sector-specific public-private partnerships, such as a partnership piloted in April among electricity utilities.
Full Story: The Associated Press (7/28) 
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Construction Contract Terms & Conditions
Attorney Aman Kahlon from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings advises that calculating recoverable costs from construction claims depends on accounting methodologies and other factors. "The size and credibility of your damages claim will likely factor into the risk assessment that your company makes in pursuing a claim in arbitration or litigation," Kahlon writes.
Full Story: JD Supra/Bradley Arant Boult Cummings (7/27) 
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Protocols & Procedures
The Surfside, Fla., condominium partial collapse justifies a renewed look at how materials are tested, especially as low-carbon and climate-resistant materials come to market, says Frances Yang, a sustainability expert at Arup. What's needed is "more data and transparency about the origin, the provenance of the materials and what potentially could be present so the proper kinds of tests could be run," Yang says.
Full Story: Forbes (tiered subscription model) (7/26) 
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Legal Compliance
Contractors never want to be on the receiving end of an OSHA citation, but can abate noncompliant conditions during inspections for penalty deductions or address problems within 20 days of settlement agreements to avoid additional fines for failure to abate violations. Contractors that fail to abate are often assessed large fines: $13,653 per violation each day after the abatement date passes.
Full Story: JD Supra/Seyfarth Shaw LLP (7/26) 
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Project Focus
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation canceled a contract worth up to $400 million with Nan earlier in the year, but costs are adding up as Nan continues to submit charges for a failed utility relocation project. Lori Kahikina, interim director of HART, believes the indefinite delivery indefinite quantity approach used for the contract was not appropriate for a major infrastructure project.
Full Story: Honolulu Civil Beat (7/26) 
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Renewable energy projects may be able to find tax relief under the terms of IRS Notice 2021-41, which extends some eligibility deadlines due to the coronavirus pandemic, write attorneys Jennifer Tolsky and Patrick Johnson. "Luckily, even if your project is not completed in a linear fashion, as was the case before the pandemic, or is delayed, Safe Harbors allow for non-linear construction scheduling without the risk of losing these tax credits," they write.
Full Story: JD Supra/Gould & Ratner (7/26) 
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On the whole, public-private partnerships do better than design-bid-build projects at achieving equity goals, according to a study by researchers at the University of Maryland. The study also notes that larger projects tend to do better meeting Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program objectives.
Full Story: PhysOrg/University of Maryland (7/28) 
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AGC News
AGC of America is set to unveil new climate change initiative designed to ensure the industry serves as the delivery vehicle for making environmental enhancements on Tuesday, August 3 at 1 p.m. EDT. The unveiling will be livestreamed on the association's Facebook page and is open to all AGC of America members and chapter staff. More information.
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Up to $1 billion in equipment, materials and appliances are stolen from construction sites every single year, and less than 25% is recovered, according to the National Equipment Register. Read more.
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