Determining whether a construction project is a privately owned project or a public project is essential to preserving your mechanics lien or bond claim rights. Private construction projects and public construction have different documents that need to be filed if you are unpaid. Private projects require the mechanics lien to be filed, while public projects require a bond claim to be filed. In many states, private projects and public projects also have different notice requirements and deadlines to file.

Privately Owned or Public Projects

Church Construction
Church Construction Underway

Many people believe that when performing construction work on a church, temple, or other religious place of worship, or supplying materials to the construction of one of these, that this is a public construction project because these places of worship are communal gathering places. However, church construction projects are almost ALWAYS privately owned, commercial projects. The simplest way to explain it is to go back to the U.S. Constitution and the phrase: “the separation of church and state.”

This separation includes the construction of religious places of worship, meaning that public funds are not contributed to construction projects involving churches, temples, synagogues, etc. This extends to other religious institutions as well.  Construction on religious schools is always considered a private, commercial construction project.

Another way to determine that a church construction project is a private, commercial construction project is by determining who owns the property. Most properties where churches, temples, etc. are located are owned by corporations related to certain religious group.  For instance, the Church of Latter Day Saints of Jesus Christ located at 13510 North 42nd St in Tampa, Florida is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Corp. Since this is owned by a corporation, you can tell that this church construction projects is a private construction project, and not a public one. Property ownership information is available through the county assessor’s office.

Special Circumstances

While construction on religious places of worship is almost a privately owned project, there may be some circumstances where the work would be categorized as a public project. One such instance is the construction of a chapel on a military base or academy. For instance, the United States Army Corps of Engineers commissioned a project that involved the construction of a chapel at the Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware. This would be considered a federal public construction project.

Best Practices

While there are instances where a church construction project may be a public project, it is most likely a private, commercial project. Unless you have information stating otherwise, it is best to treat these as commercial projects in terms of preliminary notices, deadline requirements, and mechanics lien filing. To be safe, the best practice would be to verify that project is a private construction project as you begin work on it.