Mechanic’s Lien Update: How Many Times to Serve a Pre-lien Notice?
Before recording your mechanic’s lien, most states as to subcontractors and suppliers, require the serving by certified mail of a pre-lien notice. Typically it is served at the beginning of the project. But are there cases in which you have to serve this notice more than once?
In almost all cases, the answer is no. The avowed purpose of the notice is to identify yourself to the owner and general contractor. In other words, let them know you exist out there in the chain of command and that if unpaid, might be required to file a mechanic’s lien.
The owner and general contractor then collect these notices and when progress and final payments are made, insist that there be mechanic’s lien lien waivers from all persons who have served the pre-lien notice.
The notice itself describes the contract price for the work expected to be performed. In the beginning, this could be no more than a reasonable estimate. So questions arise if during the course of the project there are change orders executed, does there have to be a re-doing of the notice?
The answer again is no. Being simply a good faith estimate, the lien claimant is not precluded from asking for more money. But there are some limited exceptions.
Assume that your subcontract is for $25,000. But because of major architectural changes and the owner changing his or her mind frequently, assume your contract is increased to $100,000 including the change orders. Because the change is so significant, it might be prudent to re-serve the notice. However, there is little statutory authority requiring such a move.
A mechanic’s lien is a potent device so is also always prudent to consider these possibilities.