You just got hired on a construction site. Congratulations! But, are you ready to start, because guess what: you start immediately, as in right now — TODAY!
For many folks in the industry, the scenario described above could be a dream come true. But is there any drawback to starting a construction job immediately after being hired? What about securing your mechanics lien rights? Is it possible to do that when getting hired and starting work both happen on the same day?
This post will show you how to secure your lien rights when you start a new job on the same day that you’re hired.
How Are Lien Rights Secured?
But before we begin, let’s all get on the same page regarding just how lien rights are “secured” anyway. Here’s the deal: sending preliminary notice is required in order to secure your mechanics lien rights most of the time in almost 80% of the states. And that’s really the issue that we’re talking about in the scenario described in this post. That is:
If you start work on the same day that you’re hired, how are you going to be able to send a preliminary notice in time?
We’ll get to that, but first, let’s quickly go through some of the main requirements that go with sending preliminary notices.
How Do I Know If Preliminary Notice Is Required?
Whether preliminary notice is required on your project or not will depend on a few factors. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help you make this determination.
1. Where (What State) Is the Project Located?
Real estate agents like to talk about “location, location, location” but guess what: location is important in construction too. This is because each state’s notice requirements are different. For more information about this, please refer to our state-specific lien and notice resources to understand what your state requires.
2. What Is Your Role on the Project?
Your role on the project matters because your role is one of the main factors that determines ALL of your other lien and notice requirements. For example, in Florida, a prime contractor is not required to file preliminary notice but subcontractors, laborers, suppliers and sub-tier contractors are all required to deliver a preliminary notice to the prime contractor within 45 days of first furnishing of labor or materials. This sort of differing requirement is present in most of the states (not exactly like Florida’s), so you can’t ever assume that your notice requirements are the exact same as some other company’s.
3. What Is the Project Type?
In construction, type matters! The notice requirements on public jobs (state or federal) are much different than on private jobs. Lien and notice requirements can also change for different subcategories of private projects (for example, residential vs. commercial jobs). But be careful because finding out the job type for the project you’re working on is not always as easy as it seems it would be!
By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to get a much clearer picture of whether notice is required or not.
If Notice is Required, How Do I Send It (if I Start Immediately)?
Here’s the thing — sending preliminary notices is complicated. On a case-by-case basis, ALL of the following must be determined in order to successfully send any type of construction notice:
a) What type of notice should be sent?
b) Who should receive it?
c) When is the deadline to send it?
d) How (delivery method) must the notice be sent?
While each of these is equally important when it comes to successfully sending a preliminary notice in the scenario we about talking about here (when you start a job on the same day that you’re hired), the deadline requirement may have the biggest impact. On most construction projects in most states, the deadline to send a notice won’t happen until at least some time has passed. On the vast majority of commercial construction jobs, the deadline to send a preliminary notice ranges from days to weeks to months.
Therefore, even if you start the same day that you’re hired, you should still have some time to get the notice off before the deadline to send it expires.
While it might seem like a good idea to bring a blank notice with you when you’re starting a new job (that you can just fill out right then and there, “onsite”), this type of “personal delivery” for notices isn’t allowed in every state. So, depending on where your project is, “personal delivery” of your notice may not work. And besides, if the project owner is the party that needs to receive the notice (that’s Question ‘B’ above), then they’ll have to physically be at the jobsite in order to receive your notice (if it’s even allowed).
The bottom line is this: on most projects, the deadline to send a preliminary notice should allow you enough time to send the notice off by the required delivery method, even if you can’t send it on or before your first day on the job.