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What do you get when you combine a former real estate bubble and a severe economic downturn? For some communities, the result has been a shrinking inventory of undeveloped land and a declining market of viable golf courses. Now that the economy is showing glimpses of recovery, many developers are looking at former, now fallow golf courses as potential sites for new development.

However, golf courses carry with them a unique and complex history, making their conversion and development a trap for those unaware of or unprepared for the myriad of land use, environmental, liability and public relations issues that certainly lie ahead. Here's what your company should know when developing one of these projects.

A bustling job site with plumbers, electricians, carpenters and roofers can be a difficult place to manage a contracting business, but construction contractors do this daily.  Under that dusty hard hat is someone who is always juggling the paperwork involved for the job on-site including the order forms, delivery notices and last-minute changes demanded by the architect. This is a paperwork nightmare for someone sitting behind a desk in a comfortable office, let alone someone making business decisions standing on the site of a half-built house.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry added 30,000 jobs in December 2012. While unemployment remains stubbornly high for this sector, this represents the largest monthly increase in two years.

As the construction industry slowly begins to recover, it is a good time to think about putting a plan in place to address the safety of new and less experienced workers.  Employees are most vulnerable to injuries when they are new to the job because of their inexperience or lack of familiarity with the new company.

Most contractors pride themselves on quality and do everything in their power to avoid or promptly remedy defects in their work. Often, contractors will provide a warranty that covers any defects that arise within a year or longer after the project is complete. But the expiration of a warranty does not mean the contractor is off the hook. Latent defects may arise years, or even decades later. When they do, the builder is in the difficult position of defending work performed long ago.

The construction industry faces a variety of crises, not the least of which is the economic downturn. But the business also faces a variety of high-profile problems including injuries and deaths on the job, labor issues, cost over-runs, natural disasters and structural collapse, among others.

According to preliminary figures from the Associated General Contractors of America, there were 721 deaths in 2011, down significantly from 2006 (1,239). This could be tied to a weakened economy, but nonetheless good news.

The hum of heavy equipment, service vehicles and back-up generators is the sound of a thriving construction business. But with diesel prices hovering between $4 and $5 per gallon, fuel costs have a significant effect on profitability. It’s estimated that fuel accounts for 40 to 50 percent of an asset’s operating costs. In addition, contractors must be concerned about fuel-related issues including carbon emissions, penalties for excessive idling and the environmental certifications required for bid eligibility.

Since 2001, states around the country have been implementing regulatory energy codes that require buildings to be built airtight. More recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been a leading agency in requiring that all new and remodeled, conditioned buildings not only be built with a required air tightness, but be field-tested to ensure that a sufficient air tightness was achieved. It has been shown that reducing air leakage from a building can result in up to 35 percent heat energy cost savings, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Experts are predicting growth in all sectors of the construction industry, including residential, commercial, institutional and government. In addition, the number of foreclosures is decreasing and mortgage rates are remaining at historically low levels. In a recovering economy, customers who put off fixing roofs, replacing windows and other construction-related improvements are more motivated to complete these projects.

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