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Important Facts to Remember
General Contractors / Design Professionals (if your contract is with the owner): File your Wisconsin lien within 6 months of the last furnishing of labor or materials to the project.
Subcontractors/Suppliers (if your contract is with the prime or another sub): Record the Wisconsin lien within 6 months of your last furnishing labor or materials to the project (your portion of the work).
Who? A mechanic’s lien in Wisconsin is allowed for General contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, renters of equipment, architects, engineers, and land surveyors.
Where? Clerk of the Court (in county where work / material furnished).
How Long Does it Stay on Record? A mechanics lien in Wisconsin stays 2 years after recording the lien. A lawsuit to foreclose the lien is then required. We have templates for this.
Let Us Help: If you prefer, for the same price, we will instruct you how to fill-out the Wisconsin mechanic’s lien form line by line, answer questions, and give a general idea of the chances for success in enforcing the lien. (800-995-9434).
Mechanics Lien for Wisconsin Law Summary: For a more detailed discussion of Wisconsin mechanics liens.
HOW TO FILE A WISCONSIN MECHANIC’S LIEN
Step 1. Fill-out and Print
Complete the PDF “fillable” mechanic’s lien template. It will automatically capture your information and print the lien in final form. Additional Feature: Keep on your desktop: it is re-usable for other non-paying jobs.
Amount of Wisconsin mechanic’s lien: When deciding what to include in your lien, consider: Add all work/material furnished under the base verbal or written contract plus change orders actually performed, whether signed or not. Finance charges are allowed only if included in your contract or PO and signed by the other party. If not, you still get pre-judgment interest. But do not include specific finance charges or interest in the amount of your lien; instead express it as a possible add-on at trial. Example: “Mechanic’s lien for the principal amount of $10,550, plus finance charges / pre-judgment interest as allowed by law”. This will be awarded later if you are the prevailing party in the Wisconsin lien foreclosure suit.
Do not reduce for customer discounts—it is rarely productive when it comes to being paid the final draw and you can actually lose respect in the process. You are not bound by initially agreeing to perform items without charge–this was contingent on being paid. With non-payment, it is no longer legal consideration for a contract modification in which the owner receives a reduced price. Example: While performing tenant improvement work on a small shopping center, in a gesture of good faith you furnish the following extras without charge: a) candilever overhang for the store front, b) replacing faux brick veneer panels on the south wall with more expensive limestone, and c) a small retaining wall (together with drain rock, filter fabric and drainage) on the slope above the rear parking lot. Then you never got paid the last installment on the contract. If you supplied labor only, your Wisconsin lien will add in the hourly rate under the contract. If labor and material, use cost-plus or T & M amounts in the lien.
Not to be included: You do not want to take the chance of voiding the lien for including impermissible amounts. A mechanics lien in Wisconsin should not include: court costs and attorneys’ fees (included later if you win at trial for breach of contract); lost profits if terminated from the job; delay or impact damages; lost time or business the interruption; or anything else not constituting actual labor and materials improving the property.
Be careful. Including unauthorized amounts can invalidate a Wisconsin mechanics lien. Call us if you have any questions.
Step 2. Sign and Notarize
This lien can be signed by anyone who has basic knowledge of the services rendered and the costs incurred. It does not have to be someone in the field—in other words, it can be by office personnel. For example, this could be a manager, bookkeeper, controller, job foreman, project manager, owner, co-owner, or partner. All recorded documents must be notarized.
Step 3. Look-up Recorder’s Office
Recording a mechanics lien in Wisconsin is at the county level, not state or city. See “Where?” above for the name of your State’s recorder. Do a Google search for the county in which the project is located. Example: “[Name] County Clerk Recorder Register of Deeds”. Call to verify the fee and recorder’s address. Give them the city where the work was done–sometimes it is filed in different branch offices. If you don’t know the county, Google the city—even small towns have a Wikipedia listing describing the county. Use the cover letter provided. Send the original and one copy with a stamped self-addressed return envelope.
Legal description inserted into the lien? Most counties don’t require it, but if they do, we will look it up for free with any purchase.
Step 4. Mail
Regular mail to the recorder. Overnight if close to the filing deadline. If a general contractor, serve the Wisconsin mechanics lien on the owner with a copy certified mail. If a sub or supplier, serve the owner and general with a copy certified mail. Fill-out and staple as the last page the Proof of Service (it shows proof of mailing to the owner and/or general contractor).
Call us if you have any questions about a mechanics lien in Wisconsin—we’ll walk you through it. (800) 995-9434; (925) 899-8449.