Construction Law & Construction Management: Roland Schlehufer – More than just scaffolding and statics

2022-06-14 The 34-year-old civil engineer managed a large construction site in Hamburg and expanded his professional foundation with the part-time Master's in Construction Law & Construction Management at Leuphana Professional School.

Around 650 flats, about 4000 office workplaces, three hotels and around 200 shops - the dimensions of the Übersee-Quartier in Hamburg are gigantic. For civil engineer Roland Schlehufer, the construction project was his biggest professional challenge to date. As one of the two lead engineers, he accompanied the project for over four years and was responsible for a large part of the shell construction. "During the work, however, I realised that I was not sufficiently well-versed in building law," says the 34-year-old. He studied civil engineering in Constance, specialising in "structural engineering": "But a large construction site is about more than steel scaffolding, statics and concrete."

Roland Schlehufer is employed by the general contractor Zech. The construction company does not keep all the trades on hand and therefore employs so-called subcontractors, such as tradesmen's firms. If, for example, there are delays in the delivery of building materials and thus in the execution of the construction work, the legal question arises as to who is responsible for the subsequent costs, such as the accommodation of the crews, and to what extent. But poor workmanship can also be the reason for a legal dispute: "There is often a lot of money at stake. That's why it was important for me to know how to behave on the client's side in order to be able to argue correctly with the subcontractor. The degree programme has given me a lot of confidence in this respect," says Roland Schlehufer.

He took up the Master's degree while working on the large construction site. "My employer Zech was very supportive and paid the tuition fees," says the engineer. The temporal organisation was a plus point of the study programme for him: "Seminars and lectures were on one or two weekends per month. I was able to combine that well with my job and private life."

Students on Germany's first part-time Master's programme in Construction Law and Construction Management, led by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Schottke, close an educational gap in technical civil engineering studies. The interdisciplinary curriculum is based on questions of construction law and construction management. Assessing the distribution of risks in construction contracts under civil law and the associated supplementary and contract management (contract management) are among the central tasks of management personnel. In addition, students gain knowledge in the areas of conflict management and negotiation.

Roland Schlehufer has now completed his studies and dealt with a concrete issue from his everyday professional life in his Master's thesis: "The contracts between general contractors and subcontractors are often not balanced. I discussed a legal partnership design," says the Leuphana alumnus.