Preliminary Notices on State Projects

Preliminary notice is frequently required on private projects, and never required on federal projects.  So, is preliminary notice required on state and county projects?  The answer here depends on your state, but odds are that public preliminary notice requirements closely mirror the private notice requirements for that state.

Why Many Believe Preliminary Notice Is Not Required On Public Works

There’s a big misconception out there that a preliminary notice is not required on a state or county project. For review, a preliminary notice is a notice state statutes require suppliers and subcontractors send to the property owner and/or the prime contractor at the start of furnishing to a project.

However, since the preliminary notice is a creature of traditional mechanics lien statutes, and the traditional mechanics lien is not available to unpaid parties on a construction project, folks frequently think that preliminary notice is not required on public works. The misconception is stregthened by the federal Miller Act, which applies to all federal projects, since preliminary notice is never required on those projects.

State and county projects are not governed by the federal Miller Act, however, but rather the “Little Miller Act,” which is a version of the federal statute. A number of states copy the federal Miller Act statute verbatium and thus do not require preliminary notice, but there are a healthy number of states who do not. Then, there are a healthy number of states who do require preliminary notices.

Does My State Require Preliminary Notice for Public Works?

Just like everything in the mechanics lien law universe, there are few hard and fast rules to help companies sort out preliminary notice requirements. I frequently tell folks that if preliminary notice is required on a private project, the state likely has a mirror notice requirement for its public works.

For example, in California, the 20-day preliminary notice required on private projects is also required on state projects, and the requirements are virtually identical. The same is true in Louisiana, where equipment rental companies and material suppliers have identical preliminary notice requirements on private and state projects.

There are exceptions, and so it’s a good idea to reference the laws of each state.   zlien publishes a great mechanics lien law resource on its website. You can select the state you’re interested in and view a chart of the preliminary notice and mechanics lien requirements on private or state projects.