On private projects in Washington state, all material suppliers and most subcontractors must deliver a preliminary notice within 60 days of first furnishing labor or materials to a construction project. Failing to send this preliminary notice will result in the loss of mechanics lien rights.

This preliminary notice requirement is pretty well known in Washington, and there is even a good bit of awareness that an exception to this rule exists for those persons and companies who furnish labor only to a project. However, a nuance of this “labor only” exception is a bit less known, which is that it protects at least some work performed by subcontractors who should have sent off a preliminary notice, but didn’t.

So, here is the deal:

1)  If you furnish only labor to a project, you do not need to deliver preliminary notice in Washington state.

2) If you furnish only materials to a project, you always need to deliver preliminary notice in Washington state, and if you don’t deliver this notice, you’ll have no lien rights whatsoever.

3) If you furnish labor and materials to a project, you are supposed to deliver preliminary notice in Washington state, but if you don’t deliver this notice, you’ll have a right to file a mechanics lien related to your labor only.