Historical finds by builders during construction are more common than you might think. In 2013 alone, more than 120,000 federal projects experienced just that and had to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act. This statistic is for federal projects alone. The number would massively increase if private projects were similarly recorded.

Due Diligence 

There is quite a bit of due diligence work required before a new construction project is approved. Before building begins and the environment review begins, contractors and developers should include historic preservation into this process to reduce the chance of an unexpected historical find. It is also critical for contractors and developers to pay attention to the permitting paperwork, as some building departments and agencies flag this risk early on.

Reporting Historical Finds: Best Practices

Contractors and construction crews should be informed of the reporting procedure for the discovery of historical artifacts or human remains. These procedures vary by jurisdiction. For example, in Illinois, the first contact should be the coroner’s office. From there, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will be alerted if the remains are 100-years-old or more. The crew may then proceed. Some crews, however, do not alert authorities and continue to work anyways. This could result in massive fines if they are caught. For example, in New Jersey, contractors and developers face potential imprisonment and fines of millions of dollars.

Discovery Delays

Depending on what is discovered, projects can be severely delayed or even canceled. In this event, contractors and developers should turn to the contract to ensure that they will not be penalized for the delay. This can result in massive financial loss. Sometimes the owner is responsible for paying for profit loss. Other times, the insurance may pay for the loss, including personnel equipment expenses. Ideally, once the authorities are alerted to the discovery and deal with it according, they allow the construction to proceed under either law enforcement in the case of a suspected crime or under authorities charged with historical preservation.

Punctual Abstract: A National Abstracting Solution with a Local Touch

With comprehensive and accurate title abstracts, Punctual Abstract can ensure that there are no unexpected or unwanted historical finds in the chain of title and paper history of a property that could potentially cause legal or financial burden for the owner or lender. We are a national title abstracting company located in Harvey, LA that provides commercial and residential abstracts and numerous other value-adding services. To learn more, please visit our homepage or contact us today.

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