Construction professionals at work

The above is a photograph I took of a little water basin near a home in New Orleans right alongside Audubon Park. It got me thinking about mechanics lien rights, of course!

As the summer months roll in across the United States, lots of folks are looking to their front and back yards, and imaging ways to improve these areas with swimming pools, landscaping, outdoor patios and decks and other decor.  How much of this stuff qualifies for a mechanics lien filing, and how much doesn’t?

This is another post in our series of scenarios posts, which examine different scenarios within the construction industry and discuss whether there are or are not mechanics lien rights for the work.

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For the most part, the construction of built-in swimming pools, patios and decks will qualify for mechanics lien rights. Landscaping can be hit or miss, with most states providing some sort of lien rights for landscapers who are designing and installing a new landscaping area, as opposed to those who are just maintaining one.  Outdoor decor, however, is a real tough one to provide a general answer.

Unfortunately, for the most part, I think most states will not allow mechanics lien rights for the “installation” of outdoor decor.  That’s simply because outdoor decor isn’t usually ever “installed,” it’s simply put in place. In fact, a lot of this stuff can be purchased at a rummage sale or a big box hardware store, driven home in the back of a truck, and placed where one wants in the yard.  The next day, it can be pretty easily moved around.  In other words, this outdoor decor stuff are moveables.

This doesn’t meant that there isn’t a type of outdoor decor that could qualify for mechanics lien rights. More sophisticated or intricate outdoor decor that requires water lines, electrical wiring, and fixed installations may very well qualify for lien rights.

Most states inquire whether the materials supplied and installed are fixed to the property and incorporated within the property. If it is, there are lien rights.  If not, no rights.

Remember, this is a general rule, and there are some exceptions. Some states, like Louisiana and Colorado, have unique ways of defining who can and cannot file mechanics lien rights which can sometimes lead to an interpretation that allows non-traditional claimants to file a mechanics lien. It’s important to check with your state’s particular laws, and compare these laws to your individual situation keeping some of the above-discussed points in mind.

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