Chip Bachara’s practice follows the ups and downs of construction market trends.

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Many attorneys keep in their offices a collection of objects related to their practice.

For Chip Bachara, it’s hard hats.

Board-certified in construction law by The Florida Bar and approved as an arbitrator for complex construction disputes by the American Arbitration Association, Bachara grew up in the business and intended to have a career in construction.

Close, but not exactly.

“I got here through a bit of a winding path,” said Bachara, who founded Bachara Construction Law in 2007.

His father returned to Jacksonville after serving in the Navy during World War II, began building houses and eventually was inducted into the Florida Home Builders Association Hall of Fame.

Bachara worked for his father’s small company as a laborer while in high school and then enrolled at the University of Florida, where he received a degree in building construction and then obtained a certified general contractor license.

While Bachara was in college, his parents realized the industry was beginning to evolve from small construction companies that built most of the houses into much larger corporate development operations.

“My parents said ‘you’ve got to do something besides construction. We’re not sending you to school so you can struggle,’” he said.

Instead of starting a construction company, Bachara went to the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law.

“With law school, I realized I had an option. I could still be in construction, but with a law degree,” he said.

Bachara was admitted to the Bar in 1987 and worked at two Jacksonville firms before opening Bachara Construction Group.

In 31 years of exclusively practicing construction law, Bachara said he’s ridden the ups and downs of the housing and commercial real estate markets along with the developers and investors.

When real estate went into its slump several years ago, the firm focused on construction defect litigation.

“Defect work lags years behind the market,” Bachara said.

With the current resurgence in new construction, both commercial and residential, the firm is handling more transactional work, such as contracts between the entities involved in a project.

There also can be litigation.

“When a building is under construction, there are fights going on between the owner and the contractor and the contractor and the subcontractor and the engineers are fighting about something. You’re dealing with delays, disruption and arbitration.

“Those types of disputes are a lot more complex and a lot more stressful. The job is moving and if you aren’t moving quickly with it, it’s going to cause a problem. The last thing you want to do is to add to a problem with the project,” said Bachara.

Taking into account the current uptick in commercial, single-family and multifamily residential construction, Bachara predicts a strong market on the legal side of the business as well.

“As long as we’re still building in Jacksonville, there will be mistakes. Building fast can be a recipe for problems and that’s what keeps us busy.”