Project Delays and Filing a Mechanic’s Lien
In most cases, the controversy surrounding a contested mechanics lien has to do with the accusation from the owner that the labor and materials were not furnished adequately. In turn, this has to do with the defense of defective material, substandard performance, untimely work, not following the plans and specifications, violation of local building codes, and contested change orders. The contractor’s goal is to prevent as many of these disputes as possible so that the filing of a mechanic’s lien claim may precede unimpeded in the court system or arbitration.
But there is another defense that can rear its head. That has to do with not only your untimely performance, if any, but delay of the overall job. More specifically, this can affect the other specialty trades. Typically this occurs when the work has ceased because of disputes as to utilities, legal access to the property, unclear property lines, and zoning issues.
For example, you are ready to begin the demolition phase in removing an older warehouse, preparatory to constructing a new commercial building. As the bulldozer is fired up, the owner gets a letter from the adjoining owner’s lawyer denying access of a 10ft. wide strip from street to the back lot where the building is to be constructed. Everything stops and the finger-pointing begins. Although it is hard to believe the contractor is at fault, this is not prevent the owner from claiming so and stopping all promised payments.
You should be proactive. It is suggested that use certain following clause in your contracts:
“Owner shall furnish all existing reports and/or surveys, point out boundaries, and pay for and insurer there is full and legal access to the property, including zoning, variances, easements, rights of way, and the availability of all necessary utilities. Any delays as a result of inaccurate information shall be the sole responsibility of owner.”