Construction Frequently
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Preliminary Notice FAQ

A preliminary notice is a letter sent by a contractor, laborer or supplier to the property owner at the start of a construction project in Washington. In many states, a preliminary notice is required to be sent in order to secure the right to lien.

In Washington, If you are not a prime contractor, you are required to send a Notice to Owner³ to the property owner. You must also send a Notice of Right to Claim Lien.

 

Meanwhile, if you have a direct contractual relationship with the owner, you are required to send a Model Disclosure Statement when you are involved in the building, repairing or altering of 4 or fewer residential units with a bid price of $1,000 or more, or when such involvement is in a commercial building with a bid price of $1,000 to $60,000. 

  • If providing labor only, you are not required to send a preliminary notice. If materials are included in your participation in the project, you need to send a notice.

For prime contractors, a Model Disclosure Statement is due before work commencement.

 

For subcontractors, laborers, and suppliers, a Notice of Right to Claim Lien is due within 60 days of first supplying materials, services or labor.

The abovementioned preliminary notices are required to protect your lien rights. But if they are sent late, you may still file a mechanics lien under the following circumstances:

 

If you’re working in any commercial project, or on a remodel, alteration or repair of an owner-occupied, single-family residence, your late notice will still protect your lien rights for 60 days prior to the date of sending it. 

 

If you’re working in the construction of a new single-family residence, your late notice will protect your lien rights for 10 days prior to the delivery of your notice.

Intent To File FAQ

A Washington notice of intent to lien is sent before the filing of a mechanics lien becomes necessary.. Although only a number of states require that this notice be sent, many construction participants send a notice of intent to lien as an uncostly way to have payments for invoices settled.

No, a notice of intent to lien is not required in Washington’s lien process but you may send this notice as a reminder for involved parties that a payment is due.

You may send a Washington notice of intent to lien at least 10 days before your intended date of mechanics lien filing to give the recipient enough time to settle payments.

Not sending a notice of intent to lien in Washington has no bearing on your lien claim since it is not required.

Mechanics Lien FAQ

A Washington 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 guarantees payment for contractors.

 

This means that if you file a valid mechanics lien on a project you worked on and weren’t paid for your work, 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.

When you successfully file a Washington 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.

In Washington, parties that  provided labor, professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property may file a mechanics lien¹. Improvements are defined in Washington as the following:

 

1) Constructing, altering, repairing, remodeling, demolishing, clearing, grading, or filling in, of, to, or upon any real property or street or road in front of or adjoining the same; 2) planting of trees, vines, shrubs, plants, hedges, or lawns, or providing other landscaping materials on any real property; and 3) providing professional services upon real property or in preparation for or in conjunction with the intended activities in 1) or 2).

 

Suppliers to suppliers have no lien rights. Meanwnile, it is not totally clear if construction managers have lien rights in Washington.

A Washington mechanics lien must be filed within 90 days after last providing labor, services, or materials². This deadline cannot be changed by a contract or agreement.

 

If the deadline is on a weekend or holiday, it is extended until the next business day. 

 

After filing, a mechanics lien, or Claim of Lien, as it is called in Washington, must be delivered to the owner of the property within 14 days via certified mail, return receipt requested.

A Washington mechanics lien is required to be enforced within 8 months after filing. If this period lapses without any action to enforce by the claimant, the lien expires.

Washington requires the following pieces of information to appear on the mechanics lien form: 

 

  • The identity of the hiring party
  • A description of the labor, materials or services supplied
  • A legal description of the property
  • The identity of the owner of the property
  • The date when the materials, labor or services were last supplied
  • A statement of the amount due

Any lien waiver form may be used since Washington does not have legislatively designed lien waiver forms.

 

It is not clearly laid out if Washington contractors and suppliers can waive their lien rights before any work commences.

A mechanics lien should be cancelled immediately upon satisfaction, or when it has expired or for any other reason. This is usually triggered by a written request from the notifying party.

In Washington, pay if paid clauses are enforceable if explicit, but they are not favorably regarded by courts. Pay when paid clauses are enforceable, and a contractor may delay payment “for a reasonable amount of time” after work completion.

References:

leg.wa.gov

Washington’s Mechanics’ and Materialmen’s Lien Law

¹ The Revised Code of Washington Section 60.04.021

² The Revised Code of Washington Section 60.04.091

³ The Revised Code of Washington Section 60.04.031

Handle.com 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.

Washington documents

Bond Claim

Working on a public construction project? Bond claims ensure subcontractors are paid without having to file a lien or a lawsuit against the government.

Mechanics Lien

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

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.