Construction Frequently
Asked Questions.

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Preliminary Notice FAQ

An Illinois preliminary notice – also known as 60-Day Preliminary Notice – is a letter sent to the property owner at the start of a construction project.

In many states, a preliminary notice is required to be sent in order to secure the right to lien.

Parties who have no direct contract with a property owner and are working on an owner-occupied single-family residential project must serve a 60-Day Preliminary Notice. [i]

Failing to serve a 60-Day Preliminary Notice when required to do so will limit the amount that you claim on an Illinois mechanics lien.

Intent To File FAQ

An Illinois 90-Day Notice of Intent to Lien is a document that you send to the property owner before you file a mechanics lien.

As the name of the document suggests, it lets the owner know of your intention to claim a lien against their property because of a payment dispute.

An Illinois Notice of Intent to Lien is required for all parties who have no direct contract with the property owner. [ii]

In Illinois, a Notice of Intent to Lien must be sent within 90 days of your last day of work. It advises the owner of your intention to record a lien if the payment is not satisfied.

Failing to send an Illinois notice of intent to lien when required will prohibit you from filing a valid mechanics lien in Illinois.

Mechanics Lien FAQ

An Illinois mechanics lien is an effective tool that helps make sure you will be paid for the construction materials and/or labor you supplied. It is a legal claim that can effectively recover payment for contractors and suppliers.

This means that if you do not get paid for your work in Illinois and you file a valid mechanics lien, you have the right to enforce the lien through a lawsuit. This enforcement action can either prompt the client to settle or force the sale of the property. The proceeds of the sale will be used to settle your unpaid bill.

If you successfully file an Illinois mechanics lien, you have an interest in the improved property. When a mechanics lien is filed on the property you worked on, the property becomes collateral for uncollected payments.

According to 770 ILCS 60/1 [iii], parties such as original or general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers may file a mechanics lien in Illinois.

There are two deadlines for filing an Illinois mechanics lien: within 4 months of project completion (to enforce against the original and subsequent property owners) and within 2 years of project completion (to enforce against the original owner only). [iv]

An Illinois mechanics lien is enforceable within 2 years of contract completion. [v]

The Illinois mechanics lien must contain the following details:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the property owner
  • The name and address of the party who hired you (if different from the owner)
  • A description of the labor and/or materials that you furnished to the project
  • A description of the property sufficient for identification
  • The dates when you first and last performed work or supplier materials to the project
  • The amount that you are claiming

The Illinois mechanics lien must also be notarized before filing.

Illinois generally has no licensing requirements before you can file a mechanics lien.

An Illinois mechanics lien must be released after it has been satisfied and after the claimant’s receipt of a written demand from the owner to do so.

Releasing or canceling a mechanics lien is done by filing an acknowledgment of satisfaction in the same recorder of deeds office where the mechanics lien was filed. [vi]

The pay-if-paid clause is conditionally unenforceable while the pay-when-paid clause is enforceable in Illinois.


[i] ILCS § 60/5

[ii] ILCS § 60/24

[iii] ILCS § 60/1

[iv] ILCS § 60/7 

[v] ILCS § 60/9

[vi] ILCS § 60/35 provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to contractors and others who are seeking information regarding preliminary notices, intent to file, mechanics lien, and other construction questions. These are provided for informational purposes only, and we cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies.

Illinois documents

Mechanics Lien

Still chasing payments on a construction project? File a Mechanics Lien on the project to recoup unpaid labor and materials.

Miller Act

The Miller Act protects the rights of subcontractors working on or who have worked on government projects.

Preliminary Notice

Secure rights to file a lien and notify parties you’re on the job. Not filing a preliminary notice may result in lost revenue in case of a delinquent client.


Waivers release your right to file a mechanics lien in case of non-payment. Some have conditions so ensure you're sending the correct lien waiver type.