We’re pleased to welcome Christopher Hill back to the Construction Payment Blog for this guest post, bringing information about important changes to mechanic lien statutes in Virginia.  Christopher G. Hill is lawyer and owner of the Richmond, VA firm, The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC, a LEED AP, and member of Virginia’s Legal Elite in Construction Law. He specializes in mechanic’s liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals. Mr. Hill authors the Construction Law Musings blog where he discusses legal and policy issues relevant to construction professionals.

I want to thank Scott for, once again, letting me guest post here at the Construction and Mechanic’s Lien blog.

I have discussed the picky nature of Virginia mechanic’s liens often over at my Construction Law Musings blog. Not only are the requirements and details strictly enforced, but the Virginia General Assembly seems to feel the need to tweak them in each of its sessions.

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The latest change involves the use of a mechanic’s lien agent on residential projects. Beginning at the start of this month, July 1, 2010, a contractor can no longer depend on the failure of the owner to list a mechanic’s lien agent on the posted building permit. The new statute requires that a contractor go beyond merely reading the building permit and make a reasonable inquiry with the local building authority to determine the identity of the mechanic’s lien agent.

Another key change to this provision allows an owner to amend a building permit to add a mechanic’s lien agent at a date sometime after the beginning of construction. Based on this change to the statute, contractors must be constantly vigilant to any lien agent changes to assure that their required 30 day notices to the agent are properly filed because the owner is likely to bring a defense of failure to give notice by a contractor or subcontractor (regardless of if the trade is finished or not) should such notices remain un-filed or un-amended.

Aside from the obvious need to keep abreast of the changes to the mechanic’s lien statutes in Virginia, contractors and other construction professionals must also update their long standing policies for notices on residential projects. Consultation with an experienced construction attorney is key in assuring that you are both up to speed on legislative and judicial changes and that your business procedures take such changes into account.