Anytime you agree to work on a massive condominium tower project, you can pretty much count on delays. Of course, a work delay is one thing – that’s the nature of the construction business. But payment delays are quite another. In all of the top five liens in Travis County in July of 2019, as each involved real estate developers. As the Lone Star State’s fifth most populous county, Travis County has a dream market for real estate. But for contractors struggling to get paid on construction projects in and around Austin, Travis County hasn’t provided the life they may have dreamed of.
As contractors flock to Travis County for real estate projects, they must understand the risks involved and the process they must take when they aren’t paid. When a contractor isn’t paid for work they’ve done, taking the time to file a mechanics lien may just be the best investment they can make. Below are five cases that have topped the county for liens in the month of July.
Austin: $3.4 million lien on The Independent
Lien Amount: $3.4 million
Claimant: Capform Inc
Hiring Party: Balfour Beatty Construction LLC
Property Address of Lien: 301 West Ave, Austin, TX
Property Owner: 3rd & West LP
Construction taking place at a condominium complex known as The Independent in Austin, TX lands at number one on our list. Capform Inc filed this sizable lien of $3.4 million against Balfour Beatty, a perpetual slow-payment offender. Earlier this year, the international building behemoth was kicked off of the UK’s Prompt Payment Code for delaying payment to subs & suppliers.
Capform is a full service concrete contractor with locations in Austin, Dallas, Tampa, and Miami. According to lien documentation, Capform furnished a turn-key concrete package.
The Independent project has been under construction since 2016. It’s now the tallest building in the city of Autin, standing at 690 ft. Construction wrapped up in spring of 2019, but as with many large-scale construction projects across the country, lien cases will linger on well after a project is completed. Capform began work at The Independent site back in January of 2019, and finished their work in April when the entire project came to a close.
Austin: $2 million lien on Seventy Rainey Street Residences Tower
Lien Amount: $2 million
Claimant: Capform INC
Hiring Party: Flintco Residential LLC
Property Address of Lien: 70 Rainey Street, Austin, TX
Property Owner: 70 Rainey Street Owner LLC
June wasn’t a great month for Capform, who filed the two biggest liens of the month in Travis County. On this project, they were hired by Flintco Residential LLC. Capform filed this lien for $2 million against Seventy Rainey Street Residences Tower. The company finds itself in a battle over another luxury apartment tower construction project, again providing a turn-key concrete package. Capform worked on the project for almost an entire year, stretching from July of 2018 to April of 2019.
The building opened up this year, with 33 floors of luxury apartments in downtown Austin. Aside from working on the main structure of the building, Capform also provided the concrete for the parking locations of the building. According to lien documents from this case, retainage has been withheld from Capfrom for more than 2 years, since January 2017. Between two luxury apartment towers, the full service concrete contractor is locked into two liens in Austin that equal upwards of $5 million. It’s a helpful reminder for contractors to understand that new residential tower projects can come with great risks in terms of the payment process.
Austin: $1 million lien on TX Austin Master LLC
Lien Amount: $1 million
Claimant: DNT Construction LLC
Hiring Party: TX Austin Master LLC
Property Address of Lien: 502 Highland Mall Blvd. Ste 106B, Austin, TX
Property Owner: TX Austin Master LLC
DNT Construction specializes in excavating, grading, paving, dry utilities, retaining walls, and wet utilities. DNT has multiple locations in Texas, including Round Rock, San Antonio, and Midland. The construction company provided their services at the Housing Authority of Travis County building in Marcy and April of 2019. On the project, DNT provided street improvements, drainage, wastewater, and erosion control improvements.
While the construction location isn’t a residential building like the first two cases were, it’s still a building that manages housing in Travis County. Thus, the real estate market once again finds itself on our list of the top five liens in Travis County.
Austin: $787k lien on IGX Burleson Park LLC
Lien Amount: $787k
Claimant: Cantera Design Builders LLC
Hiring Party: IGX Burleson Park LLC
Property Address of Lien: 4421 Supply Court Dr, Austin, TX
Property Owner: IGX Burleson Park LLC
Cantera Design Builders filed a lien of $787k back in October of 2018. Cantera is contractor in Schertz, Texas and manages the pre-construction phase, general contracting, design build process, and project management. The work provided by Cantera Design Builders took place at a property owned by Industrial Group Southwest, also known as IGK Burleson Park LLC. Per the company website, LGK is a fully-integrated real estate operating company specializing in the acquisition and development of business parks and buildings for business space, industrial, distribution and manufacturing users. Cantera Design Builders provided work on the parking lot and also worked general contracting and designing of the project.
Austin: $698k lien on Aspen Heights Partners
Lien Amount: $698k
Claimant: Trio Electric LLC
Hiring Party: Aspen Heights Partners
Property Address of Lien: 1301 S. Capital of Texas Hwy #201, Austin, TX
Property Owner: Aspen Heights Partners
The fifth and final lien comes from Trio Electric LLC in the amount of $698k against Aspen Heights Partners, which handles idea generation and project management in the real estate market in Austin. While it’s not a residential building, the Aspen Heights Partners building still handles condominium housing and multi-family housing. Trio Electric is located in Houston, TX and supplies engineering, design, pre-fabrication, preventative maintenance, and energy conversion. Trio provided their electrician services to the 1301 S. Capital of Texas Hwy #201 location in Austin, TX.
Business – and liens – are booming in Travis County
One thing’s for certain in Travis County, Texas – the real estate market is booming. In an article published by Culturemap in November 2019, a study found that among 95 U.S. counties, Travis County is the largest for growth in sales of homes priced $1 million or more. This is reflected in the value of the top five largest liens filed in Travis County for July. In total, the top five liens for the month totaled $7,965,181.50. Whether the lien dealt directly with a real estate office or a residential tower, Travis County is littered with real estate construction projects.
But a booming real estate market can bring significant payment risk, as developers rush to bring their projects to market before the competition. This should raise some red flags for contractors and subs who are looking to take on projects in Travis County. If you find work in Austin as a contractor, there’s a good chance you’ll end up working on a residential property such as those on this list – all defendants in massive lien filings.
Before you bid on a project, do your due diligence on the general contractor and project owner. Research their payment practices on Levelset’s Contractor Profiles, and read former customer reviews. Look for recent news articles that might give you an indication of their ability – and willingness – to pay the contractors that work for them. If the parties at the top of the payment chain have a history of payment problems or mechanics lien filings against them, it may be wise to consider investing your resources elsewhere.