Completion of work marks the end of the construction process and signifies that the project has reached a stage where it is deemed finished and ready for its intended use. The completion date holds significant implications, particularly when it comes to mechanics liens.
But what does completion actually entail, how is it determined by each state, and what are the subsequent effects on the timeframe for filing a mechanics liens?
Understanding Completion of Work
The completion of a construction project refers to the point at which work is actually completed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide a clear definition, and the exact specifics depend on each state. For example, some states consider the project completed once it has reached substantial completion. Substantial completion means that the work has been completed to a degree that allows the owner to utilize the property for its intended purpose. However, subsequent minor changes or corrections of defective work or repairs may be considered warranty work and not part of the original scope. CNS stays up-to-date on lien laws to ensure your construction notices adhere to all related matters, such as completion. Call us today for more information regarding completion in your state.
Determining Completion By State
The definition of completion and the determination of its date can vary from state to state. Some states define completion based on a specific set of criteria, such as the issuance of a certificate of occupancy and cessation of labor. In this instance, the determination of the date of completion is a factual analysis that is decided on a case-by-case basis.
Other states, however, consider a project completed when the work is substantially complete and ready for use. Typically, actual completion consists of the full performance of the contract.
Since each state has its own regulations and requirements that dictate when a construction project is considered complete, it’s important to understand how your state defines it to ensure you don’t miss any crucial deadlines to file a mechanics lien and protect your right to payment. At CNS, we provide mechanics lien services for various states, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, and can help you avoid any mistakes when filing.
Timeframe to File a Mechanics Lien
Mechanics liens are powerful tools that help contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and laborers secure payment for the work they’ve completed on a construction project. However, the timeframe within which a mechanics lien can be filed is closely tied to the completion date of the project.
In most states, the clock for filing a mechanics lien begins ticking from the date of project completion. It is crucial for contractors and other parties involved to be aware of the specific deadline in their state, as failing to file within the designated timeframe can result in the forfeiture of their lien rights. If you are unsure of your state’s window to file a mechanics lien, contact one of our specialists today for more information.
Notice of Completion and Its Impact
To provide clarity and protect property owners, many states give owners and general contractors the option to file a notice of completion. The notice of completion officially declares that the project has reached substantial completion. This notice serves as a public record and triggers various legal deadlines, including the timeframe for filing a mechanics liens.
The duration of this timeframe varies by state and is typically shorter than the initial window allowed for filing a mechanics lien without a notice. It also differs based on your role in the project. For example, some states — like California — shorten their timeframe to 60 days if you’re a general contractor and 30 days if you’re a subcontractor. The purpose of this shortened timeframe is to encourage prompt resolution of any outstanding payment disputes and avoid protracted legal battles.
If a notice of completion is filed, however, it has to be sent through certified mail to notify everyone who sent a preliminary notice at the start of the project. This is just another reason why sending a pre-lien is such an important first step toward protecting your right to payment.
File a Mechanic Lien With CNS
As can be seen, it is not easy to define completion. It is also hard to distinguish between warranty work and completion work under the original contract. If any work is done of any substance that is not warranty work, chances are it will be deemed work to complete the original agreement.
But understanding how completion is defined and determined in each state is essential for contractors, suppliers, and laborers involved in the project. The completion date has a direct impact on the timeframe within which a mechanics lien can be filed.
To protect your lien rights and ensure timely payment for your contributions to a construction project, contact CNS today and get a mechanics lien started.
Prefer to call? You can reach us at 800-366-5660.
Disclaimer: CNS is not an attorney, and if you need legal advice, please contact one.