Over the weekend, I answered a question over on Avvo.com about mechanic liens that gets asked very often, and I thought it was a good idea to share here.

The question is this:   What are my legal rights as a contractor if my lien is not filed on time?

The question was asked related to Washington law, but the answer is applicable around the nation.   Mechanic liens are an excellent remedy – and I highly recommend preserving and using these rights when needed.   However, they are not a contractor’s only remedy.

What other rights does a contractor have?  Take a look at my answer here:

Liens are a terrific remedy for contractors. If you’re unpaid and file your lien on time, you acquire security rights against the property itself and are legally able to file suit against parties who you did NOT contract with (i.e. the property owner, if you are a sub).

However, if you don’t file a lien, you still have plenty of legal rights to recover what is owed to you.

Your rights, however, are exclusively against the party who you contract with. You have an action against them for breach of contract. The period to bring this suit is quite a bit longer, between 3-6 years, depending on the type of contract.*

*This is the statute for Washington.  Remember that the statute of limitations will be different depending on your state.

It’s important to contact a great construction attorney to bring a breach of contract suit if you are unpaid, and are too late to proceed with lien rights.    Find a construction attorney in your area at Avvo.com.