Bravo Million Dollar Listing - The New Castle

What do Levelset and the hit Bravo TV show Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles have in common? For starters, we’ve both brought visibility to the construction of UnvarnishedCo’s mega-mansion development portfolio of 13 homes worth a cool $500 million.

Scott Gillen, famous stuntman and director-turned-Malibu-developer, is prominently featured in the show’s July 7th episode. The episode shows him challenging Douglas Elliman realtor, Tracy Tutor, to come up with a marketing plan for a $75 million home dubbed “The New Castle.” Tracy impresses Scott enough to earn his trust in her representing the rest of the high value portfolio.

How Levelset helped Scott Gillen avoid payment disputes

Throughout construction of this massive luxury home at 23800 Malibu Crest Dr, Levelset tracked deadlines and sent preliminary notices for at least 2 of the project’s subcontractors.

When looking at the whole Malibu Series portfolio being developed by UnvarnishedCo, Levelset has helped six different subcontractors and a supplier protect their lien rights in California. While it may seem counterintuitive, sending documents as part of a mechanics lien process is actually an effective way to prevent lien claims on a property. This is largely due to the increased visibility and communication that these documents provide to the general contractor and property owner, enabling them to make payments on time and to the right people.

So while the show brought about visibility to a large TV audience, Levelset ensured that all parties on the project knew each other’s place along the payment chain, which is often a huge obstacle in getting paid for work and supplies.

Payment disputes on the Malibu development

To see whether other contractors on the job were experiencing payment problems, we searched for any liens placed within the portfolio of properties. The only lien found was filed by Skyline Crane Rental on August 5th, 2019. That lien was released just 3 days later on August 8th. A short turnaround like this (from filing to release) is often a good indication that the developer or property owner had the money, but was unaware of the situation. In most cases, a claim like this could have been avoided with better communication between parties on the project.

While it is possible some payment issues exist beyond the filing of liens, subcontractors working with Levelset have not needed to file — or threaten to file — a claim. Fortunately, they have the security of knowing they’re protected in the event they need to.

Lien claims don’t always tell the whole story

When looking to work with general contractors in the future, sometimes the recent liens or lack thereof don’t tell the whole story. While Scott Gillen may have avoided lien claims on the project, some contractors expressed displeasure with their payment practices overall.

Based on client ratings, UnvarnishedCo’s payment practices average a 1.4 out of 5. According to one contractor’s review: “Slow Pay. They constantly lose your paperwork. They just plain don’t want to pay you for your services.” Even on projects with a reputable developer with deep pockets, payment problems frequently arise. It’s critical for contractors to take steps to protect their invoices, ensuring they have the right to lien if the need arises.