When it comes to managing your lien rights on a construction project, one of the most important requirements is managing deadlines. These deadlines typically specify when certain documents must be sent, or when certain actions must be taken. Often, project deadlines are calculated from project milestone dates. One of those project milestones is the “Date of Last Furnishing.” Let’s take a look at how to determine a general contractor’s last furnishing date and why it’s important.

What Does “Last Furnishing” Mean?

A mechanics lien must be filed within a certain time period in order to be valid and enforceable. In many states, this time period is determined by the last day the filing party provided labor or materials to the project. This day is considered the last furnishing date.

When a deadline is calculated in reference to a “last furnishing date” this is usually referring to the filing party’s own last date on the project. It is the last actual date the filing party provided work to the project, but in some circumstances, it can get a little tricky.

When Is the GC’s Last Furnishing When Subcontractors Are Performing Work, Too?

The term “last furnishing” can also get a little more complicated when a party has subcontractors performing work as well. A GC’s duties under a contract will typically call for some combination of hands-on work and subcontracted work. So, the last furnishing will extend to a GC’s service of organizing work on the project even when their hands-on work may have completed.

A general contractor’s last furnishing date is determined by individual completion, not project completion. Therefore, a lien deadline will be calculated at the completion of the general contractor’s duties under the contract.

Sometimes this can be a little confusing for contractors and you are left wondering if every little action you take will change the last furnishing date. To put it simply, if a GC is hired to complete the entire scope of the project, the end of that project is the GC’s last furnishing. If a GC is hired to simply perform some phase or portion of a project, a GC has provided their last furnishing when that phase or portion of the project is completed.  

What If Work Is Extended Beyond the Date in the Original Contract?

In some circumstances, there are change orders that extend work beyond the date contemplated in the original contract or punch-list or warranty work that calls a construction participant back to a job that they thought were done with. In these situations, the general rule in many states is that only a valid change order would change the last furnishing date.

Usually, punch-list or warranty work does not change the last furnishing date. But, if the new work is actually necessary for the completion of the scope laid out in the original contract, then the new work may change the date.  If the work is substantial and pursuant to change order, it is likely that the work would change the last furnishing date.

If there is an entirely new contract created for work on the same project – generally the last furnishing date for the work completed under the first contract would be used for one lien deadline, and a new lien deadline would be created for work performed under the second contract. This would also create two separate last furnishing dates – one for each contract.

How Should I Determine the Last Furnishing Date?

By keeping track of the date you last provided work or services to a project, and by knowing when you’ve completed your contractual duties, you should be able to determine your last furnishing date. Keeping detailed records of your time on a project can save you a lot of trouble if a lien is necessary. Ultimately, the best practice is to pay careful attention to lien deadlines and contracts and to remain proactive.