The California 20-day preliminary notice (also called “prelim,” “pre-lien” or just “preliminary” notice) is a requirement on both private and public jobs in the state. Contractors, suppliers, and vendors must serve this document to preserve their mechanic’s lien or bond claim rights on a job.
Notwithstanding how important preliminary notices are to payment rights, sending prelims is a best practice that benefits everyone on the job. That’s because notice recipients — typically general contractors, property owners, and lenders — rely on notices to paint a picture of all of the parties that are working on the project. This makes it much easier to later request, collect, and track lien waivers.
The good news is that California’s preliminary notice requirements and deadlines are rather straightforward. The bad news is that it’s still quite complex.
This comprehensive article will explain everything you need to know about California’s preliminary notices, whether you’re sending one or receiving one. The article will also walk you through preliminary notice best practices, common mistakes, and frequent questions. Read on to learn what you need to get the 20-day notice right.
Table of Contents
Video Summary: Guide to California 20-Day Preliminary Notice
What Is a California 20-Day Preliminary Notice?
The California preliminary notice is a document sent by contractors, suppliers, and vendors on public and private jobs in the state. Through these notices, job participants share critical project information with one another. This includes identifying who is performing work or providing materials to the job, who hired them to do it, and an estimated value for the work/materials.
As will be explored later in this guide, the preliminary notice form itself is pretty unremarkable. While it may look intimidating at first, once you spend a little time reading through, you’ll see that it’s a very simple form. You can get a free copy of the California preliminary notice form here.
You may hear people refer to this form by a number of different names. These other names include: “California Preliminary 20-Day Notice” or the shorter “Preliminary 20-Day Notice.” Interestingly, before a 2012 change to the state’s notice laws, the process was not formally named, and the industry called it different things. A law change effective of July 1, 2012, official changed the terminology to simply, “Preliminary Notice,” but because old habits die hard, you’ll still find folks referring to this document and process by a variety of labels.
The California preliminary notice is important for a variety of different reasons. However, most importantly to contractors and suppliers who expect to be paid on jobs, the preliminary notice must be properly served to preserve the right to file a mechanics lien or bond claim on the job. In other words, if you don’t send your preliminary notice in California, you won’t have any lien rights! This is the case on both private jobs (i.e. commercial, residential, industrial), and public jobs (i.e. state, city, municipal, county, government, etc.).
The California preliminary notice requirements are similar to the requirements of other states (See 50-State Preliminary Notice FAQs and Requirements). And generally speaking, they are good-faith, collaborative documents designed to benefit all job stakeholders.
Why Send a California Preliminary Notice?
The bottom line is this: in California (and about 37 other states), sending preliminary notice is required in order to maintain the right to file a mechanics lien on a construction project. However, this is just one of many reasons to send preliminary notices on a California project. In this section, we’ll explore the reasons why this document exists, and why it’s important (and required) to be sent.
1. The Purpose of the Preliminary Notice Benefits Owners/GCs
While a California preliminary notice is required to preserve a contractor’s or supplier’s mechanic’s lien & bond claim rights, that is not the purpose of the process. Instead, this is just a consequence of the process not being followed.
The primary purpose of prelim notices is to inform property owners & developers, construction lenders, and general contractors about who is working on or providing materials to the job. This protects job participants against the risk of a “surprise lien” from some unknown contractor or supplier not getting paid on the job. Sending notice establishes a line of communication that gives all of the parties a better opportunity to prevent any payment issues from developing into full-blown problems.
In California, it’s especially important for general contractors to know everyone on their job because of a new law (effective January 1, 2018) that hold GCs liable for the wages & benefits of every employee that works on a job, even the employees of subcontractors and sub-subcontractors of any tier!! This is a major risk for general contractors, and you can read more about it on the “Wage and Hour Defense Blog” here: California passes new law making contractors jointly liability for their subcontractors’ failure to pay wages.
The goal and purpose of the preliminary notice process in California are to facilitate a smooth payment process for everyone on the project. These documents help ensure timely, accurate payments while avoiding mechanics liens and other major problems.
2. It is NOT Optional – Not Sending A Notice Could Get You Fined!
It’s quite common in the California construction industry for contractors and suppliers will send preliminary notices on some projects, and not others. This is usually done pursuant to some “credit policy” or “notice policy,” whereby companies elect to send notices only when a project is valued over a certain dollar amount. The reasoning here is sound. The costs and complications of sending a preliminary notice may just not be worth it if the job value is too low, or, the contractor/supplier may be willing to take the risk of non-payment for certain customers.
There is a surprising misunderstanding about California’s preliminary notice requirement: It is not optional.
Repeat: The California preliminary notice is not optional.
As we explored in “Get fined if you don’t send California’s preliminary notice,” not sending a prelim in California is “grounds for disciplinary action under the Contractor’s State License Law.” See, California Civil Code §8216. According to §8216, the preliminary notice is only optional if the work is less than $400! This is a very, very low threshold.
3. Not Sending The Preliminary Notice Will Spoil Lien Rights
Failure to provide notice is fatal to a mechanics lien & bond claim right in the state of California. In other words, if you don’t send your preliminary notice correctly, you can’t later file a mechanics lien, a stop notice, or a bond claim if unpaid. Considering the payment challenges in the construction industry, this is quite a risk.
The problem for contractors and suppliers is that you can never know when your lien rights will be needed. It’s so unfortunate when someone gets stiffed on a job and they are completely without options because of missing this simple requirement. We see this unfortunate circumstance almost every day. Check out, for example, some frequent questions posted by contractors and suppliers on our Expert Center about this very issue. As you see, they are in a very difficult and painful position, and you can bet they would give almost anything to go back in time and just send that little notice:
- If the deadline passed to send preliminary notice, what are my options to secure payment?
- We are a subcontractor on a California project. The last day of the job was 24 days ago. We didn’t send a prelim but are not in dispute over unpaid invoices. Any advice?
- I didn’t send a notice, have I waived my lien rights?
It’s difficult to predict exactly when payment problems will arise, and with who. But, it’s easy to predict that payment problems will arise from time to time in the construction industry. In California, you’re a sitting duck to get burned on payment if you don’t send preliminary notices.
4. Preliminary Notices Get California Contractors Paid Faster
As we discussed above, sending preliminary notice is essential in California, because it’s the first step that’s required to secure lien rights on a project. But securing lien rights, while important, is hardly the only benefit that sending notice provides.
There is another, hugely important benefit of sending preliminary notices: construction companies that send preliminary notices get paid faster than the companies that don’t. Significantly faster. That’s because, when you send a preliminary notice, you are prioritizing your invoices by making sure you are visible, and providing evidence that you “run a tight ship.”
And the result of getting paid faster? BETTER CASH FLOW.
Most large or sophisticated property owners, and nearly all developers or large GCs, go to great lengths to track who is filing and not filing notices in order to know which parties have protected lien rights and remain in a secured position.
When preliminary notices are required to retain the right to file a valid mechanics lien (as is the case in California), and those notices aren’t sent, those parties are the ones that can be strung along a bit longer for payment if cash flow becomes an issue. (And in construction, cash flow is almost always an issue).
5. California Preliminary Notices Are Good For Relationships & Good For Everyone
In addition to all the benefits already described, and the fact that notices are mandatory, California preliminary notices also support good working relationships, as they make sure that owners, lenders, and general contractors know who is working for them (this is especially beneficial on large projects).
When a mechanics lien is filed on a project, or when other payment issues arise, it’s like a heart attack on the job — the consequences (especially for the property owner) can be severe. These heart attacks create major pains for job stakeholders, cause job delays, and can ruin relationships.
Since preliminary notices are so helpful to a project’s payment processes, it is really unfortunate that there are so many misunderstands about notices.
It’s true that there is a bit of a stigma with notices, in that some contractors do not want to send the notice because they fear that it will create animosity on the part of the notice recipients. And General Contractors, sometimes in fear of contractors & suppliers who “protect their lien rights,” will try to convince not to send their notice, or to bully contractors & suppliers out of the practice. We explored these practices in the article, “General Contractor Asking You To not Send Preliminary Notice – Is That Legal?”
Negative perceptions about prelims could not be any further from the truth. Preliminary notices are sent all day, every day in our industry. And they are helpful to everyone. And they are mandatory.
Successful companies who make money always send preliminary notices. So don’t be afraid of sparking animosity when you send your notice! You’ll actually be doing a favor for all of your notice recipients.
Who Must Send a California Preliminary Notice? Who Receives It?
California requires contractors, suppliers, and vendors to send preliminary notices on all projects within the state. This requirement applies to “private” and “public” jobs. However, there are some subtle differences in the requirements depending on the type of project involved. It’s very important to know what the construction project’s type. This may seem straightforward, but it is actually quite tricky. You may want to review our article on this subject, the Types of Construction Projects: What Are They and Why You Should Care.
You may also find our charts helpful on the California Preliminary Notice FAQs page. These charts provide an alternative view to help you decide who must send notices in California, and who must receive them.
Private Jobs: Who Must Send & Receive Notices
Private jobs include commercial, residential, and industrial projects, or any project that is not a “public” job.
On private projects, the following parties must always send a 20-day preliminary notice:
- Material Suppliers
- Equipment Renters
General contractors are only required to send a preliminary notice if there is a construction lender lending to the project. This requirement for general contractors went into effect on July 1st, 2012. Further, there is an exception for pure laborers, who are not required to send a notice in the state of California.
Subcontractors and material suppliers are required to send a 20-day preliminary notice to the following recipients:
- The Property Owner (or reputed owner)
- General Contractor
- Construction Lender (if there’s a lender involved on the project)
General contractors are only required to send preliminary notice to the construction lender (if there is one on the project).
It’s a good practice to notify the tenant on any tenant improvement project. Really, the best practice is to use preliminary notices to keep everyone on a project notified. If a required party is non-existent (such as no lender on the project), then of course, there is no need to send notice to that party.
Public Jobs: Who Must Send & Receive Notices
Public jobs include government, state universities, city, municipal, county, and state work, but does not include federal projects. Instead, federal projects are regulated by the U.S. Miller Act (and, by the way, the Miller Act does not require notices).
On public projects, general contractors do not need to send preliminary notice. This is one of the major differences between the California preliminary notice requirements on public jobs, versus private jobs. The reason for the difference is simple. On public jobs, the contractor’s & supplier’s remedy for non-payment is not a lien claim, but instead, is a bond claim. And these bond claims are filed against the general contractor’s bond. It makes perfect sense that the general contractor will not file a bond claim against itself…and therefore, there is no reason for the general contractor to send any preliminary notices.
For all other stakeholders (i.e. contractors, suppliers, and vendors, but again, excluding laborers), the preliminary notice must be sent to the following recipients:
- The public entity commissioning the work;
- The general contractor; and
- The surety (if known)
There Is One Limited Exception — Who doesn’t need to send the California Preliminary Notice
There are exceptions to every rule, and this is true with the otherwise broad requirement to send preliminary notices in California. Although you must be careful with this exception, because it is very limited, and tricky, and unclear.
As a result of a 1984 court case, the courts held that an owner with actual knowledge of a particular party’s involvement with a construction project cannot challenge a mechanic lien based on not having notice that the particular party was on the project.
In other words, this means that, if you were required to send notice but failed to do so, you may still have lien rights if the property owner knew you were on the project, knew you were performing work, and had that knowledge within 20 days of you first starting to furnish the labor and/or materials. However, this exception is not a guarantee — it only means that you may have a chance of proceeding with a lien claim (if you failed to send notice). Further, it is not clear whether this would satisfy the requirement of sending notice to the other required parties (i.e. the general contractor, lender, surety, etc.), or whether the “actual knowledge” exception could also apply to those parties.
How To Find The Owner, The Lender, the GC, or the Surety
Now you know who must receive a California preliminary notice. It’s the property owner (or reputed owner), the tenant, the general contractor, the construction lender, and/or the surety. But, you might not know who these folks are on your job.
It’s Common To Not Know — And There Are No Easy Solutions
It’s extremely common to not have this simple information when trying to prepare California preliminary notices. And, unfortunately, this is not easy information to get.
When preparing a California prelim, one of the most difficult tasks is figuring out the identity of parties on your job. This because especially difficult and overwhelming when dealing with a large volume of projects and notices (i.e. such as the case for suppliers/vendors), and when working as a sub-tiered contractor.
The unfortunate reality here is that there are no easy solutions to this.
Finding the property owner may be simple (i.e. there are a lot of property owner databases). To get help on researching the property owner, check out our article on this: California Notices & Liens: Researching the Property Owner.
But, the truth is that there are very few (if any) databases and registries of construction lenders, sureties, tenants, and general contractors. And, even if these databases existed, projects flip over so quickly that it would be difficult to discern one project from another (this is the problem when consulting building permits for this information, for example).
The Process of Requesting “Pre-Lien Information”
It is a common practice in California to “request pre-lien information.”
This is a pretty strange process when you step back and think about it. What happens here is that one party sends a “request” to another party that they provide certain information about a job, including the identity of the owner, lender, surety, etc. When a response to this request is returned, the parties takes the information off one piece of paper, transcribes it onto the notice, and sends it right back to the party who just supplied it!!
Many contractors and suppliers have pretty sophisticated processes to send these requests out, track them, and field their return. Take a look, for example, at this form published on Building Supply & Lumber Company’s website. Their “Preliminary Lien Information Request” says:
In order to comply with sections 3097 and 3089 of the California Civil Code concerning the giving of preliminary notice, [t]he following information is required from you as a part of our contract. The giving of such notice does not constitute lien, nor is it a reflection of the integrity of any contractor or subcontractor…Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to serving you.
Yikes! They need some work on that language!
While this practice is silly on a few different levels, it’s a good practice for contractors and suppliers in California to follow. There just aren’t a ton of ways to get this information in-hand. Manually requesting it like this frequently works, and more importantly, it helps to protect the contractor/supplier in the event they never get a response. But, as you’ll see in the next section, not completely.
What Happens When Requests For Information Go Unanswered
One of our payment experts explored this issue in response to a visitor’s question about these challenges. The visitor asked specifically about identifying the construction lender, but the response would be virtually identical for any of the other stakeholders (i.e. surety, general contractor, etc.).
The visitor asked, “If…the lender is unknown, and the owner won’t respond, how do I get the lender’s information?” Some best practices were provided in the response, such as this:
There is some California case authority that sets forth a further obligation to inquire into the identity of a construction lender. Romak Iron Works v. Prudential Ins. Co. 104 Cal.App.3d 767, (1980) held that a claimant may not solely rely on a representation by the general contractor for purposes of determining a construction lender. In that case the claimant inquired to the identity of the lender, and didn’t receive any identifying information. Accordingly, on the preliminary notice, the lender was listed as “unknown.” The court held that the claimant had a duty to inspect the building permit and the construction trust deed for the listing of the lender’s name and address. While it is unclear if this would be followed in the event that the identity of the lender is withheld in bad faith for the purposes of shielding a project from mechanics lien liability, it may be worth a potential claimant making some additional effort to find the lender for the purposes of preliminary notice compliance.
A similar question was asked and answered more specifically about a contractor’s failure to respond to the “Pre-lien information request.” There, you can hear the visitor’s frustration in their question here:
We have emailed, faxed, called, and mailed the request for pre-lien information. We are not getting any response from the contractor with the necessary information. How do you suggest we find/obtain the information to get the 20 day notice submitted properly and timely.
This is a very frustrating, and common, problem.
The short version of these responses is that there is a process to request the identity of these difficult to figure out parties (see, for example, How to Find The Lender on a California Construction Project). The request to contractors for “pre-lien information” is also a formal process authorized by California Civil Code §8208. It is a best practice to always do so, and this creates some protection.
But, unfortunately, this may not be enough. As one of our experts says in response to the “pre-lien” question, “despite the fact that this appears to be mandatory (note the “shall”) the consequence for failing to provide this information is unclear.”
And there are some cases that hint you may need to show that you did some additional digging around, above and beyond the requests.
There are preliminary notice services out there who can help with some of this project research (see: The 10 Best Nationwide Preliminary Notice Services: Reviews & Guide). When it comes to California preliminary notices, the project research process, which is a pre-requisite to getting notices out of the door, is very important.
What Information Is Included in a California Preliminary Notice?
The California preliminary notice isn’t required to look a certain way. The form can be on any color paper, it can have most any formatting, it can be spread across 1 page or 10 pages, etc. However, California’s lien law requires that preliminary notices contain specific information.
This includes all of the following:
- Name and address of the owner or reputed owner
- Name and address of the prime contractor
- Name and address of the construction lender, if any
- Description of the site sufficient for identification, including the street address of the site, if any
- Name, address, and project role of the claimant (“claimant” = the party giving notice)
- The name and address of the party that contracted with the claimant
- General statement of the work provided
- An estimate of the total price of the work to be provided
- A specific, 235-word statement in BOLDFACE TYPE (see below):
NOTICE TO PROPERTY OWNER EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE PAID YOUR CONTRACTOR IN FULL, if the person or firm that has given you this notice is not paid in full for labor, service, equipment, or material provided or to be provided to your construction project, a lien may be placed on your property. Foreclosure of the lien may lead to loss of all or part of your property. You may wish to protect yourself against this by (1) requiring your contractor to provide a signed release by the person or firm that has given you this notice before making payment to your contractor, or (2) any other method that is appropriate under the circumstances. This notice is required by law to be served by the undersigned as a statement of your legal rights. This notice is not intended to reflect upon the financial condition of the contractor or the person employed by you on the construction project. If you record a notice of cessation or completion of your construction project, you must within 10 days after recording, send a copy of the notice of completion to your contractor and the person or firm that has given you this notice. The notice must be sent by registered or certified mail. Failure to send the notice will extend the deadline to record a claim of lien. You are not required to send the notice if you are a residential homeowner of a dwelling containing four or fewer units.
Word to the Wise: These requirements are set forth in California’s Lien Law, and this law tends to be strictly enforced in the Golden State. Therefore, it’s important that your preliminary notice meets all of these requirements, or you may be at risk of losing your right to file a mechanics lien.
Keep in mind that, unlike Arizona, California does not require amended or supplemental preliminary notices if the estimate of total price is exceeded or changes.
When Do I Send a California Preliminary Notice?
You are required to send your preliminary notice within 20 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials. Organized companies file these notices as soon as they get the project information. They file them on every project. The harsh truth is that entities in the construction industry never know if or when they will be paid. These required notices need to be sent early on.
Though this requirement may seem straight-forward, there are some nuances and frequently asked questions that come up about the timing of California’s notices. This section will address these questions.
Can You Send Notice Early in California?
Can preliminary notice be sent before you begin furnishing, or would that be a premature notice? While this may seem like a silly question, it is a good question, because there have been situations in other states when an early preliminary notice got struck down as invalid! Check out R. Russell O’Rourke, Esq.’s recent discussion of that unfortunate event in Ohio: The Surprising Case of the Preliminary Notice That Wasn’t.
California contractors and suppliers shouldn’t have to worry about this. The clear answer in California is yes, it’s fine to send preliminary notices early. You can see a construction lawyer’s answer to this question on our expert center: Can California preliminary notices be sent early?
Can You Send Notice Late in California?
In California, it’s better late than never! It is much better to maintain lien rights for recent work than for no work at all. Although, it is possible to send a notice “too late,” and be out of luck.
A “late” notice will cover the work performed on the project beginning 20 days prior to when the notice as sent. This means that if you send your notice later than 20 days after first providing labor or materials, the notice only protects lien rights for the preceding 20 days. For example, if you send a preliminary notice on Day 25, you cannot file a lien for any labor or materials provided on Days 1 through 5, but you are good to go from Day 6 to the end of the project.
It’s only too late to send a preliminary notice in California if your work ended more than 20 days previously.
California Notice Requirement Met When SENT, Not Delivered
When it comes to delivering the California preliminary notice document on time, there is always a question of when the notice is considered “delivered” or “served.” Is it once the notice was sent? Or when it was actually delivered? Of course, seeing that notices must be served within a short 20-day timeframe, you can only imagine how tight the window would be if actual delivery was required within that window.
Thankfully, in California, actual delivery is not required within the 20 days. The requirement is considered met once the notice is properly sent within the 20 day period. This is made explicit within California’s Code §8116, which provides that preliminary notice is “deemed to have been given…when deposited in the mail” in the appropriate manner.”
This brings us to our next important topic — how the California preliminary notice must be sent, and what is “proper” enough to satisfy the requirement.
How Do I Send a Preliminary Notice in California?
Now you’re almost there. You just need to get your preliminary notice sent correctly. So, how do you do it?
1. Send Your Preliminary Notice by Certified or Registered Mail
Send your notice by registered or certified mail, express mail, or overnight delivery by an express service carrier. No need to worry about a return receipt. The date that counts is the mail date, not the delivery date, so make sure you retain proof you mailed your notice. If the owner is out of state and the above methods do not work, you can send the owner’s notice via certified or registered mail to the construction lender or original contractor. The most cost-effective way is to send via United States Postal Service “certified mail.” This will give you a tracking number to confirm delivery and cost under $5.00.
One common question about sending preliminary notices is whether you can send these documents by hand, or personal delivery. We wrote about this question in detail in, “Can I deliver preliminary notices by hand?” In California, the law is not crystal clear on the matter. Personal delivery may be possible in California, but there are a bunch of reasons why it’s a bad idea, and it’s a much better idea to send the notice by mail.
We wrote a very detailed article about the process of sending preliminary notices by certified mail, versus certified mail return receipt requested. You can read that here: How To Send A Notice To Owner – Certified Mail, or Certified Mail Return Receipt? The short answer for California is that sending the notice by simple certified mail is appropriate, allowed, preferred, and ideal. The thing you need to pay attention to…is how to prove you sent it!
2. Remember To Make & Keep The Required Declaration of Delivery
Since the California preliminary notice requirement is met once the notice is properly sent, it is absolutely crucial that contractors and suppliers keep good records and proof that the notice was properly sent!
It can be confusing to figure out what you exactly you need to keep track of when sending California preliminary notices. As we explored in “What You Need To Track When Sending Preliminary Notices,” in California, you’ll want to have (or have access to) the following things as evidence for every preliminary notice sent:
- Scan of the actual mail piece sent
- An affidavit of mailing to document when it was mailed, how, and by who
- The certified or registered mail tracking number, and log of the status changes in the delivery
- A certificate of mailing from the post office
- Record of the research performed on the recipients to confirm the addressed information
Hundreds of thousands of preliminary notices are sent every year in California by construction companies on their own, and they nearly always forget a very crucial requirement: Filling out and signing a Declaration of Delivery.
A California declaration of service or delivery is a very simple document. It’s simply a signed statement by the person who performed the service (i.e. the person who mailed the notice) identifying themselves, identifying when the notice was sent, identifying that it was a preliminary notice sent, identifying who it was sent to, and identifying how it was sent.
3. Pay Attention to Returned Mail Items and Take Quick Action
Finally, even though the California preliminary notice requirement is considered met upon “sending,” that doesn’t let you off the hook to get the notice actually delivered. The “effective upon sending” allowance is just a legal presumption. When the rubber meets the road, you need to get that preliminary notice actually delivered. If you can’t get it done, then it’s important you’re able to show that you tried really, really hard.
The truth is that sending preliminary notices in California is quite hard for all of the reasons above, and then, again, for this reason: After you send out the mail piece, it might get returned!
In “What It Means When Your Preliminary Notice is Returned Undelivered,” we explore this problem, and the steps you can take to make sure you do everything you can to protect your lien rights in the event of an undelivered notice.
When your mailpiece is returned as “Rejected” or “Unclaimed,” your work is mostly done and you should be protected, although it’s a best practice when faced with unclaimed or rejected mail to put a copy in the mail with ordinary First Class postage. These types of mailings cannot be rejected or unclaimed, and therefore, it’s a good backup for you if the opposing party argues you failed to meet your obligation to deliver preliminary notice to them.
Mailpieces that are returned as “undeliverable” are more complicated, and you have some additional work to do figuring out why the mail piece failed, and taking corrective action.
4. You Can File Your California Preliminary Notice with the County, But It’s Not A Great Idea
Finally, it is possible to file and record your preliminary notice with the county’s recorder office. The California laws do provide for this process, although it is not a requirement. Instead, filing a prelim in California is supposed to provide contractors and suppliers with a benefit. According to the California statutes, the county is supposed to notify all contractors and suppliers who file their preliminary notices whenever a “Notice of Completion” is filed on the project. Since a “Notice of Completion” impacts the mechanic’s lien deadlines in California, it would be fantastic to get a notification whenever one is filed on the project.
The problem, however, is that the cost greatly exceeds the benefits, and the benefits are not very clear at all anyway.
First, the cost is very high. Filing a preliminary notice in the county is going to cost more than $60 in filing fees alone (see, for example, the Los Angeles County Recorder’s fees]. This doesn’t even count the cost in time (or a courier) to get it actually filed.
Second, the benefits are unclear. While the county is “supposed” to send filers copies of any Notices of Completion, the requirement is actually not a full-fledged “requirement,” and it’s unclear how organized the counties are at fulfilling this request. In other words, whether you’ll ever get the Notice of Completion notification from the county recorder is a toss-up. Note also that this may be irrelevant and unnecessary anyway. As explained by California construction attorney Garrett Murai on his great California Construction Law Blog, “Some…feel that this [i.e. filing a California preliminary notice] is not important, since the project owner is already required to serve all persons from whom it has received a preliminary notice, with a notice of completion or notice of cessation within 10 days of recording such notices with the county recorder’s office.”
As such, while the concept of filing a preliminary notice in California is nice, the execution of this is not nice at all. In most circumstances, you shouldn’t even think about it. It’s not worth it. For more, check out this question on our Expert Center: Am I required to record – or should I record – a California preliminary notice?
Conclusion — You Can Always Get More Preliminary Notice Help at Levelset
California is the largest state in the country with a massive economy and a huge construction industry within the state and the surrounding region. Thousands of California-based construction companies utilize Levelset to better manage their payment process, send documents (especially 20-day notices), secure their lien rights, and especially, to get paid.
We have some additional resources and information available for your below. And if you have more questions or even if you don’t know where to turn, we’re always here to help.