Construction Frequently
Asked Questions.

Please check the following FAQ's below to find the answers to common questions

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Preliminary Notice FAQ

A Wisconsin preliminary notice is a letter sent by a contractor or supplier 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.

General contractors in Wisconsin need to either have their preliminary notice included in their original contract or serve it on the owner within 10 days of starting work if the contract is not in writing.³

All other parties must send their preliminary notice to the property owner within 60 days of first providing labor, services or materials.

Since it is a requirement to send a preliminary notice in Wisconsin, not sending one is detrimental to the lien claim.

Intent To File FAQ

A Wisconsin 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.

Yes, all construction participants are required to send a notice of intent to lien to the property owner at least 30 days before filing a mechanics lien⁴.

A notice of intent to lien is required in the Wisconsin mechanics lien process, and thus not sending one will prove fatal to the claim.

Mechanics Lien FAQ

A Wisconsin mechanics lien is an effective tool that can help 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 and suppliers.

This means that if you file a valid mechanics lien on a project you worked on in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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.

Wisconsin allows all construction parties who provide labor, services or materials for the erection, alteration, improvement or repair of a structure to file a mechanics lien no matter their tier in their projects.¹ 

Wisconsin lien rights also cover engineers, architects, surveyors and construction managers provided that their work is visibly incorporated into their projects.

A Wisconsin mechanics lien must be filed within 6 months of last providing labor, services or materials and at least 30 days after filing a Notice of Intention to File a Claim of Lien.² 

After filing, the mechanics lien must also be served on the owner of the property within 30 days.

A Wisconsin mechanics lien must be enforced within 2 years of filing. The lien expires if no action to enforce it is taken within this period.

The following must be included in a Wisconsin mechanics lien:

  • A copy each of the preliminary notice and the notice of intent to lien
  • A statement of the contract or demand which the claim is based on
  • The property owner’s name
  • The claimant’s or any assignee’s name
  • The date on which materials, labor or services were last provided by the claimant
  • A legal description of the property
  • The amount of the claim
  • Facts relevant to the claim

No, you don’t need a license for the work you did in a project to be eligible to file a Wisconsin mechanics lien.

Wisconsin has no legislatively designed lien waiver forms. You may use any such form.

Pay if paid clauses are not enforceable in Wisconsin, but pay when paid clauses may be enforced.


¹ Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations Section 779.01

² Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations Section 779.06

³ Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations Section 779.02

Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations Section 779.06 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.

Wisconsin documents

Intent to File

Show you’re serious about filing a mechanics lien without having to pay filing fees.

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.