Back in November 2009, we posted “The Importance of Knowing When Your Lien Period Begins,” discussing the importance of knowing how to calculate your project’s “trigger dates.”

What is a trigger date?

Every state provides contractors and materialmen the right to lien a project, but they also require these parties to file their liens within a certain “lien period.”   The lien period always has a beginning point and an ending point…but the question sometimes arises, when exactly does the lien period begin and end?

It’s a surprising complex question, and when liens are filed in proximity to the lien period’s expiration dates, parties may become involved with proceedings to contest the liens validity and the exact beginning date of the lien period.

In many states, the lien period begins with the last date a claimant has delivered materials or services.   Calculating this date, as we previously wrote, can invovle more than expected:

In many states (if not most states), labor and/or materials necessary to perform remedial, punch list items, or warranty obligations are generally not considered in establishing the completion date or the last date of providing work. Contractors and suppliers, therefore, can theoretically have the lien period begin days, weeks or months before they are off the job.

So, what is the “trigger date?”  The trigger date is the date that starts or triggers the lien period.   In most cases, as discussed in this post and the prior post, the start date for a lien period is the date materials and/or labor were last delivered to a job, or the substantial completion of a job.

After you add a project to our Lien Pilot, the “Date Management” section of the page will ask you to input the trigger dates that are important to your construction project.   A screenshot of this portion of the page is displayed to the left.

To calculate your lien deadline for this particular project, you would add the date you last delivered labor or materials.    The system will calculate the appropriate number of days from that trigger date and determine the deadline to file your lien.

But be careful.   As discussed, figuring out this particular date can be tricky in many states.     You’ll want to be extra cautious in determining this date, and to be safe, file your lien with some time to spare.

Of course, to determine the beginning date for your lien period, its best to consult with an attorney.   Lawyers in your state will be familiar with the case law that evaluates that state’s statutes and makes determinations as to what does and what does not constitute the start and end of a lien period.