Ken Thayer Podcast with guest Colin Bell

Construction Law with Colin Bell



In this week’s episode of Attorney Talk, Ken Thayer interviews Colin Bell, who is a New Jersey attorney practicing in the areas of construction, civil litigation, and commercial law. Colin was an assistant prosecutor with the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and has been recognized under the Greater Atlantic City ‘Top 40 Under 40,’ as well as the New Jersey Law Journal as a ‘New Leader of the Bar’ in 2015. Additionally, New Jersey Super Lawyers named Colin as a rising star in the field of business litigation from 2010-2015. During this episode, Ken and Colin discuss construction law, the bidding process, attorney involvement, defects, retainage, and bonds.  


Main Questions Asked:

  • What is your practice field in construction law?
  • What does bidding on a government project entail, and how do attorneys fit into that?
  • Is the bidding process anonymous?
  • As an attorney, at what stage do you get involved with the bidding process?
  • Once the bids are open, does that give everyone free reign to open bids?
  • What is the end result your client is looking for?
  • What work do you do from the contract aspect of construction?
  • Do these all go into litigation, or can they be resolved pre-litigation?
  • What does ‘prevailing wage’ mean?
  • What is the statute of limitations on defects?


Key Lessons Learned:

Construction Law


  • Colin represents general contractors, as well as large subcontractors in the HVAC field on contract claims. This includes building schools, jails, and roadways.
  • At the end of a project, there are a lot of claims that go back-and-forth.
  • Often, the firm will get involved at the bidding stage


Bidding for Contracts  

  • Anytime you do a public works project where the government is the owner of the project.
  • Examples include council, school district, county government, state college and community college.
  • The above award contracts for construction on a bid basis.
  • A request for bids that outlines the project is distributed.
  • As long as you have answered all the important parts of the bid questionnaire the lowest bidder gets the job.


Once the Bids Are Open

  • The bids are sealed when submitted, and are all opened at once.
  • Once the bids are opened, everyone can see everyone else’s bid.
  • The bid is more than just a number.


Attorney Involvement in the Bidding Process

  • The attorney gets involved after the bids are open.
  • A client will contact an attorney if their bid has been disqualified or if they are not the lowest bidder but they believe the lowest bidder has an issue with their bid.
  • It is common for a competitor to ask an attorney to review the low bid and see if there are any deficiencies.


End Results

  • The only solution is to get the work.
  • The law in New Jersey is that you cannot receive monetary compensation.
  • If you prove the bid was an improper ruling, your only remedy is to get the contract and do the project.


Contracts, Construction, and Litigation

  • This can come up during or at the end of a project, as there are unforeseen conditions.
  • Did an unforeseen condition cause the project to slow down?
  • Judges have no interest in trying these sorts of cases, so they give the leeway needed to work it out.
  • Colin has arbitrated far more claims than have been tried in court.


Prevailing Wage

  • This is a statutory requirement on public works of a certain size that workers be paid a set wage paid by the state.
  • The idea is to even the playing field for union and non-union.
  • This ensures that when public dollars are spent to build a public project, there is a benefit to the local economy by paying workers a fair wage.


Defects & Retainage

  • This is on public jobs where the owner holds 10% of the project balance until they are completely satisfied with all of the work and it has been inspected and approved.
  • Defects will usually be known when the contractor requests the final payment.
  • If a hidden defect is discovered in the building, a suit can happen a few years down the road; however, they generally become evident early in the process.
  • Even if there is a defect by the contractor, it is the contractor’s responsibility.
  • The normal statute of limitations is a 6-year contract claim.
  • Under the ‘discovery rule,’ the statute doesn’t start to run until it is discovered.
  • The statute of response is 10 years in New Jersey.



  • Bonds are insurance policies required on public jobs of any sizeable scope.
  • A bid bond is what a contractor posts, and if you are the low bidder and refuse to do the job, this is the difference that will be paid to the owner on what it will cost the contractor of the next lowest bidder to do the job.
  • The bid bond is released once performance starts.
  • The payment bond is an insurance that protects all the subcontracts to ensure their workers get paid.
  • This is released after the final payment is made and the release of leans is provided.
  • The performance bond ensures the construction performs.
  • If you don’t get past bonds released, you can’t bid on future jobs.


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Links to Resources Mentioned

Hankin Sandman Palladino & Weintrob         



Click To Tweet 

Interested in construction law? This podcast episode is for you! W/ Colin G. Bell @gaylordpoppllc


What’s it really like to be in construction law? Find out w/ Colin G. Bell @gaylordpoppllc           





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