This probably isn’t news to anyone reading this, but construction projects can sometimes be a complicated mess. There’s just so much that can go wrong: personal tastes and tolerances (intolerances?) are always in play, and there are so many parties working on top of each other that disputes are almost inevitable. And that really gets to the heart of what a dispute is all about: it’s not that something has gone wrong — it’s that something has gone wrong, and there is a disagreement about who to blame for whatever it is that went wrong!

One of the biggest areas of disagreement on the construction project involves workmanship issues. Contractors and suppliers frequently find themselves in situations when they believe their work was performed properly, but others on the project contend otherwise. Money is withheld from the contractor or supplier for “workmanship issues.” What’s a contractor or supplier to do in this situation?

Can You File a Mechanics Lien If Your Workmanship Is Being Disputed?

Well, the mechanics lien remedy is actually a really great option in this scenario.

The reason is simple: proving that workmanship is below par will require expensive and extended litigation, as these types of issues often require a full-blown trial. However, when a mechanics lien is filed, it ties up the property and has consequences to the owner and prime contractor immediately with no trial or further legal action required.

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The only remedy for the property owner or prime contractor to fix a mechanics lien problem is to pay the lien claim or file an action challenging the lien (they can also bond off the lien, but this is not a bad thing at all).

The big worry for mechanic lien claimants is if an action is filed in court to have the mechanics lien removed. If this action is filed claiming the lien is improper because of workmanship issues, the challenging party will have a very, very difficult time prevailing. The reason is simple: courts typically do not entertain factual arguments that require full-blown trials in summary mechanic lien removal proceedings.

So to the extent, there is a dispute over workmanship at the property, the judge presiding over a mechanics lien challenge will likely rule (and should rule) that the lien was properly filed and will stick around until the workmanship issues are decided by a judge after a full trial.

Which means two things for the purposes of answering this question:

1.  You can file a mechanics lien even when the workmanship is in dispute

2.  It’s probably a good idea to do so, and will likely create leverage for you to negotiate a deal

Further Reading on a Related Topic:

Can a Contractor File a Mechanics Lien If They Didn’t Finish the Work?

Have a Legal Question? Get a Legal Answer!

The question (and answer) posed above is just one of the many we get from people just like you every day. As part of our mission to provide resources to help educate the construction industry, we have a very helpful, free resource, our Construction Legal Center. Follow the link to ask your own legal question about payments in the industry, and our licensed attorneys will give you an answer.


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