FAQ

Just the FAQs, ma’am

Construction Notices:

What is a construction notice, preliminary notice, prelien, or notice to owner?

In most States a preliminary notice (also known as a prelien, construction notice, or notice to owner) is a letter that is sent to all interested parties on the project. The notice typically contains information about the project, your role and what services or materials you’re providing to the project. The information, wording and sometimes the form of the document can be dictated by State Statute. Oftentimes these notices secure lien rights and give you leverage in the event of non-payment. Each State has differing time frames and procedures that need to be adhered to when sending a preliminary notice, construction notice or notice to owner.

Who is required to send a notice?

Well that depends….Who wants to get paid? Different states have different requirements. It’s always good business practice to send a notice. Having a pro-active approach vs reactive approach when money is involved will always put you a step above the rest.

How much time do I have to file a notice?

Mechanic’s Lien law is governed by State – each State has their own statutes, time frames and procedures.

Click here for State by State information and time frames.

What if I forget to file a notice?

In most States, you may not be completely out of luck. Even if you don’t send your notice, there are still options available to you.

Why is the job site address so important to have on my request?

In most cases, the notice gives you lien rights against the property. How are you supposed to know what property to lien if you don’t know where you’re working? Also, State statute usually requires an address in order to lien a property.

Do I have to be licensed in order to secure my lien rights?

Check with your State – many States require a license to have lien rights. Most of the time, if you’re required to be licensed to provide the type of service you’re providing, then you’d also need to be licensed to record a mechanic’s lien.

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Mechanic’s Liens:

What is a mechanics/ materialmens lien?

A mechanics/ materialmens lien is a legal way of saying you haven’t been paid and you still own part of the property. Most of the time you’ve improved the property in some way, or provided professional services that led to the improvement of the property.

How do I know if I have lien rights – when should I contact my lien company or attorney?

Each state varies please contact a National Lien Services agent to ask questions about time frames or contact your construction attorney in that state.

Do I have to be licensed in order to secure my lien rights?

Check with your State – many States require a license to have lien rights. Most of the time, if you’re required to be licensed to provide the type of service you’re providing, then you’d also need to be licensed to record a mechanic’s lien. Each state is different.

How much time do I have to file a lien on a project?

Time frames to record a mechanic’s lien range by state. From 60 days after the project up to 6 months after the project. Understanding the time frames for the state you’re working in is important. Only you know when you haven’t been paid and when you want to start the lien process.

Click here for State by State information and time frames

What is a Notice of Completion?

Several states, such as California and Arizona, a Notice of Completion is a recorded document that may change the time frame in which you can record your lien. A property owner or General Contractor may choose to record this document. There are very specific requirements and time frames to follow. If you receive a recorded Notice of Completion, you may want to contact us or your attorney to discuss.

How long are liens effective?

The time frame in which a mechanic’s lien is valid varies from State to State. Some states the lien can be “renewed”, although not all states have this option. Typically legal action or foreclosure proceedings are necessary before the lien “expires”. A majority of the time, a mechanic’s lien will not remain on the property in perpetuity.

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What are my rights?

What are my rights when I’m working on an owner-occupied structure?

If you’re providing labor or materials on a project located within the State of Arizona – you must have a written contract with the owner occupant in order to have lien rights against the property.

Texas also has very strict owner occupied or residential property laws. It’s very difficult to lien a residential property in Texas.

Other states have differing laws when considering owner occupied residential property.

Click here for state by state information and time frames.

When do I need to increase the dollar amount on my preliminary notice?

In Arizona 20-day preliminary notice will automatically cover 20% over the face value on a notice. If your project increases more than 20% of the amount stated on the preliminary notice, you want to consider amending it. Payments do not change this.  This recently changed to 30% over the face value on a notice; however, as with all things legislative (yes, even statutes), there is a catch.  The first lienable act must have occurred in 2020.  Now, the word “lienable” leaves a lot of interpretation – which means gray.  I like gray on my wall paint, not in my statutes.  Please double check with your attorney if you feel the first lienable act was in 2020 to ensure you don’t accidentally file a faulty lien.

Other states likewise have various requirements for when to amend a preliminary notice. Contact us or your attorney to learn which when you need to send an amendment.

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More Things to Think About:

I have recorded my lien but I am still not getting paid, now what?

The next step in this process would be to contact an attorney to perfect the lien by starting foreclosure and/or litigation proceedings.  Most attorneys will ask for at least 6 weeks before your lien expires to begin preparing your lawsuit.  This is a good opportunity to loop your construction attorney in on what’s going on with the project to see what your best avenue and time frame is to accomplish your goal of getting paid.

We are happy to give you a referral to a great legal team we work with to help you through this process.

Contact us at (855)-558-0870 and one of our agents will be happy to help refer you to an attorney.

What is the difference between a lien and a bond claim? How do I know which one I need to use?

When you are working on a commercial or residential projects, you have lien rights and can file a mechanic’s lien. Public work projects cannot be liened as the property being improved is owned by the state, government or Indian land. When working on public work projects, the general contractor is typically required to obtain a payment & performance bond. The bond’s purpose is to cover any unpaid labor or materials.

A good rule of thumb for differentiating between private or public projects. Normally, if you can buy it, you can lien it. Commercial office buildings can be purchased, Freeways and Interstates can not. Public libraries can not be purchased, while apartment buildings can be. There may be a few scenarios where this rule of thumb doesn’t work – but most of the time it’ll help you keep the projects straight.

Does everyone have lien rights if they send out a preliminary notice?

It depends on each states lien laws, who you are on the project, and per the job itself. Please know we do not practice law and cannot give any kind of legal advice. You may want to contact an attorney for legal advice. We are happy to help you with finding an attorney if you would like.

Contact us at (855)-558-0870 and one of our agents will be happy to help.

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Public Work Jobs/ Federal Miller/ Little Miller:

What is a “Little Miller Notice”?

A little miller notice or letter is used for public works projects where the property is owned by the state or other local governing authority.

What is a “Federal Miller Notice”?

A federal Miller notice or letter is used for public works projects where the property is owned by Federal government.

What is a bond claim?

Public works projects cannot be liened. To protect subs and material suppliers there is often a payment bond that is issued. If payment isn’t forthcoming, this bond provides a means to secure payment.

What is the time frame to file a bond claim?

This varies from state to state and sometimes it depend on the language in the payment bond. For Arizona it is 90 after the last day you significantly supplied labor and /or materials. Other states have different time frames.

Click here for state by state information and time frames.

Is a construction notice required on a public works job?

Some state require a notice on public projects and some do not.

In the state of Arizona, a subcontractor or materials supplier not in direct contract with the owner must file a preliminary notice in order to retain their right to claim on the bond.

Click here for state by state information and time frames.