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Extension ladders, like the one pictured above, are a common site on many a construction project. But something that’s not very common in construction is a lien extension. In fact, mechanics lien extensions don’t really exist at all (well, in the vast majority of states). But something that’s very real is that there are strictly enforced deadlines at every step of the mechanics lien process. Please read on for a brief examination of these deadlines as well as an explanation for why it’s impossible to extend a mechanics lien.

The Importance of Deadlines in Lien Rights

In most states, the lien process involves four steps:

  1. Send Preliminary Notice
  2. Send Notice of Intent
  3. File a Mechanics Lien
  4. Enforce the Lien

…and typically, there are strictly enforced deadlines that go with each step.

Most of the time when someone in construction is talking about a “mechanics lien deadline,” they are actually talking about Step #3 above — the deadline to file the mechanics lien claim. Mechanics lien filing deadlines cannot and will not be extended in almost every state. It’s rarely done and is probably not an option.

However, the deadline for enforcing a mechanics lien (Step #4 above) may be extended, but only in a handful of states: Alaska, California, Florida, Idaho, New York, and Oregon. Find out more about extending the deadline to enforce a mechanics lien in this post: How to Extend a Mechanics Lien.

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The Deadline For Filing A Mechanics Lien Won’t Be Extended

Every week at Levelset, we talk to hundreds if not thousands of people in the construction industry, answering questions, providing information and resources, and ultimately trying to help them get paid the money they’ve earned on the projects. One of the most common is some variation of, “Am I too late to file a lien?” Unfortunately, the answer we’re often forced to give isYes,” which is painful to say.

This is especially true when the claimant we were speaking to tells us that they were intentionally waiting to file their lien. And this really made us wonder — why were so many people we were talking with serious non-payment issues on their projects waiting so long to file a mechanics lien? Why were so many people waiting so long that they ended up missing the deadline to file a lien entirely?? We started to ask them, and here is what the told us.

Here are a few reasons why claimants wait too long to file:

“They just wanted a little more time.”

“They just informed me they don’t intend to pay.”

“The contractor said he couldn’t pay me until he got paid.”

“The contract says I can’t file a lien.”

“We didn’t think we’d need to file a lien.”

“The contractor said he’d just bond it off anyway.”

“Liens are more trouble than they’re worth.”

“They asked me not to file.”

“They’re waiting on insurance proceeds.”

“They promised me they’d pay, but that was a few months ago…”

“We lost track of time.”

“We don’t want to ruin our relationship with our contractor.”

“We don’t want to ruin the owner’s credit.”

The above reasons are common, and on the surface, it may be somewhat easy to understand how a deadline is missed in each general scenario. But the point remains: the deadline to file a mechanics lien cannot and will not be extended.

Never Miss a Deadline Again

Mechanics liens are a powerful tool, and we understand that not every situation calls for one. To be honest, everyone hates liens, and, in a perfect world, no liens would be filed at all. But there’s a reason mechanics liens exist – to get you paid. Letting a lien deadline pass means relinquishing your best leverage for demanding payment.

We have a free tool that has helped thousands of people in the industry keep track of their lien and notice deadlines. We call it the Lien Deadline Calculator, and you are welcomed to use this tool yourself to help you keep track of your project deadlines. Our goal is to help you get paid the money you’ve earned. Don’t let a missed deadline prevent you from receiving your hard-earned payments.

Things that Don't Exist: Free Lunches, the Tooth Fairy, and Mechanics Lien Extensions
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Things that Don't Exist: Free Lunches, the Tooth Fairy, and Mechanics Lien Extensions
Mechanics lien extensions are not allowed for any reason on any project in most states, and the ability to extend a deadline to enforce a lien is available in just a handful of states.
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