The purpose of this blog is to provide a general overview of the basics of filing commercial construction liens. It must be noted, however, that the procedure for filing a construction lien on a residential project is an entirely different process.

The first threshold requirement that must be met in order to file a commercial construction lien is that the party who wishes to file a construction lien must have a written contract with an owner, general contractor, or subcontractor. This threshold requirement cannot be waived and a lien claim is invalid on its face if it is not founded upon a written contract.

The next requirement is that the lien claim must be filed within 90 days of the last date the lien claimant provided materials or services for the project. It must be noted that this 90 day period cannot be extended for the completion of punch list or warranty items. This 90 day period is strictly construed and may not be extended for any reason. The final threshold issue for being able to file a commercial construction lien is that the lien claimant must be a party who is eligible to assert a construction lien claim.

Typically, a general contractor, subcontractor, and sub-subcontractor may file a construction lien on a commercial project. In order to do so, a written contract between the owner, general contractor, subcontractor, and any party who wishes to file a lien claim must exist. The cut-off point for a potential claimant being able to file a construction lien claim is a sub-subcontractor. A sub-sub-subcontractor is not able to file a construction lien on a commercial project.

This same cut-off point applies for suppliers. A supplier may file a construction lien provided they are in privy of contract with either a general contractor or a subcontractor. It should be noted, however, that a supplier to a supplier is not able to file a construction lien claim under the relevant lien law. Once again, a valid supply contract or purchase order which supports the lien claim must exist.

As set forth above, this blog is merely to provide general guidance as to the right to file a construction lien claim on a commercial project. The process as to residential construction is entirely different. Nonetheless, the above guidelines should assist a typical contractor in determining whether or not they can file a construction lien on a commercial project.