A Nationwide Big Picture Look At The Preliminary Notice Document

A Nationwide Big Picture Look At The Preliminary Notice Document

In the construction business, the “preliminary notice” can be a dreaded document.  It’s paperwork you just don’t want to deal with, or a requirement you don’t fully understand.  If you’re supplying materials or providing services across state lines, it’s a legal moving target, seemingly impossible to comply with, and a frequent spoiler to your lien rights.

We’ve written about preliminary notices so frequently on this blog that we’ve given them their own category:  Preliminary Notices.

However, while I’ve written about some of the nuances with these instruments, and about their particular requirements in the various states, I don’t think I’ve ever written a big-picture type of article about the idea of a preliminary notice, and just explaining how they work in general.  Therefore, I put something like this together and published it on Avvo.com:  Everything You Need To Know About Preliminary Notices.

This article examines the preliminary notice document without focusing on any particular state’s requirements, and may help the reader understand how these things generally work. With a better general appreciation for the preliminary notice, you can then turn to the state’s particular requirements and have a better chance at complying with these requirements.

Part of the article discusses the actual filing of preliminary notices, trying to answer the practical question of “how do you do it?”

If you’re always working or supplying materials in the same state, and related to the same type of work, it’s not impossible to send your notices in house.  You can get a form, learn the process, and implement it yourself. (But think about it, why would you want your staff’s time being spent on this?!)

If you’re supplying or working across state lines, however, compliance with preliminary notice requirements is a lot more difficult.  Each state has different rules about when to send the notice, how to send it, who to send it to, and what to send.  Keeping up with this just takes too much time and resources, and is likely to result in error.

The article suggests the Zlien business concept, explaining that Zlien can file preliminary notices (including California 20-Day Preliminary Notices) for you, all across the nation.  Simply send Zlien your contract when you sign it (or input the information in our online system), and Zlien will put together the notice, send it on its way, and keep records and proof of delivery.

Check out the article on Avvo, and I hope it helps clear up any confusion you harbor about preliminary notices.

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Scott Wolfe Jr

About Scott Wolfe Jr

Scott Wolfe Jr. is the CEO of zlien, a company that provides software and services to help building material supply and construction companies reduce their credit risk and default receivables through the management of mechanics lien and bond claim compliance. He is also the founding author of The Lien and Credit Journal, a leading online publication about liens, security instruments and getting paid on every account. Scott is a licensed attorney in six states with extensive experience in corporate credit management and collections law, with a specific emphasis on utilizing mechanic liens, UCC filings and other security instruments to protect and manage receivables. You can connect with him via Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
  • http://www.levycraig.com Rob Pitkin

    Missouri has a very onerous pre-lien requirement (at 429.012, RSMO) for general contractors (and subs who contract directly with the owner) that must be served early in the project – with the first invoice at the latest. In fact, the Notice must contain specified language that must even be in 10-point bold type!

    • http://www.zlien.com Scott Wolfe Jr

      Hi Rob – thanks for the comment here about the MI pre-lien requirement. I always like the statutes that require the notices be in a certain fontsize and bolded. The requirement in Missouri that you quote here is important because its an example of when preliminary notice is required by folks who contract with the owner. It’s funny how some states think it is in the interest of public policy for those who contract with the owner to give the notices, while others interpret that interest to require notice only from those who do not contract with the owner…

  • http://www.levycraig.com Rob Pitkin

    Scott – Interestingly, Missouri also has a pre-lien Notice requirement for subcontractors too (429.100, RSMo) – but that Notice is much less onerous (no fontsize or bold requirement) and need only be provided to the owner at least 10 days before the mechanic’s lien is actually filed (not early in the project where it might be missed).