Mechanic’s liens are a creature of statute, and each state has its own law, with different deadlines, terms and forms. But there is one common element: if you don’t follow the procedure as spelled out in the law, your lien claim will fail.

The latest reminder comes to us courtesy of the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Georgia lien law allows a lien claimant, who previously signed a lien waiver, to sign and file an “affidavit of non-payment” that nullifies the effect of the lien waiver. But the affidavit needs to be signed within 60 days after the original waiver. An unpaid contractor who failed to timely sign and file this affidavit found its lien claim rejected. The case is Bibler Masonry Contractors, Inc. v. J. T. Turner Construction Co., Inc., 2017 Ga. App. LEXIS 86 (Mar. 6, 2017).

Because the lien laws vary from one state to another, it is important to understand the laws of the state where a project is located, to know the steps to pursue or defend a mechanic’s lien. The critical take-away is this: follow the process, use the forms, and meet the deadlines, all as imposed by that law. Else your lien will be worthless.

A quick Google search will direct you to multiple law firm summaries of the lien laws throughout the various states. One publication, with the catchy title Fifty State Construction Lien and Bond Law, provides detailed information state by state. (Full disclosure: I wrote the chapter for Massachusetts.) Better yet, contact a knowledgeable construction attorney in the state where the project is located, to get precise advice and/or instructions. You ignore the nuances and details of the pertinent lien laws at your peril. Just ask a Georgia mason.