All Notices Are Not Created Equal: Preliminary Notice vs. Notice of Intent to Lien

In the world of construction liens, the word “Notice” gets frequent use. The technical nature of each state’s notice requirements, however, are often misunderstood.

In general, there are 2 types of “notices” required by lien statutes: Preliminary Notice & Notice of Intent to Lien.

Preliminary Notice vs. Notice of Intent to Lien

A “Preliminary Notice” must usually be provided to the notified party before work begins on a construction project, or within a certain time frame from when materials are first furnished.

A “Notice of Intent to Lien,” on the other hand, must usually be provided to the notified party before filing a lien, usually 7-15 days before the filing.

As you can see from these simple definitions, the requirements are extremely different. It’s safe to assume that if your project and state require notice, the failure to send it will result in the forfeiture of your company’s lien rights.

When Is Notice Required?

Every state’s requirements are different – and unfortunately, quite technical. Not only does the technical nature of lien statutes make them difficult to understand and interpret, but they also result in sometimes absurd consequences.

Here are some general notice trends:

  • Frequent Rule #1: Almost every state has notice requirements when work is being performed on an “owner-occupied” residence. In theory, this is to protect homeowners from getting burned and having to pay contractors twice. Some states (like Pennsylvania) even prohibit liens against single family homeowner residences. If you’re working on an “owner-occupied” residence – check your state’s lien laws.
  • Frequent Rule #2: The further down the chain you are, the more likely notice is required. Across the nation, there are more notice requirements for subcontractors than prime contractors, and more notice requirements for sub-subcontractors and suppliers than 1st tier subcontractors. If you’re contracting with a subcontractor – check your state’s lien laws.


Zlien
is a publisher of some of the web’s best free resources for construction lien laws in the United States.  Aside from this blog, check out MechanicLien.com, where you can get charts explaining lien and notice deadlines, and download free forms.

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