Photo of buildings under construction in Hawaii with an illustration of a mechanics lien document and a "Hawaii" label

Mechanics liens are one of the most powerful ways to protect payment in the construction industry — even when it comes to billionaire clients. ‘

In August 2022, Williams Construction filed a mechanics lien against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Pila’a Ranch property on Kaui, Hawaii, claiming that they are owed $133,726.47 after allegedly performing millions of dollars of work at the complex.

Williams was hired by Zuckerberg-affiliated company Pila’a Land LLC in March of 2020 to construct a “jungle house & cabin” as well as tree houses on the property. The company claims that it has repeatedly sent written demands for its costs to ORBT LLC, which acts as an agent for Pila’a Land, but has been unable to receive full payment.

According to documents, the total cost of Williams’ additions to the compound could be in the millions, with estimates given for a main “Jungle House” at $2.9 million, a “Jungle House” cabin at $500,000, and tree houses estimated between $1,000 and $1,500 per square foot.

The contract specifies as well that ORBT was required to pay a $170,000 retainer for the jungle house and cabin and a $375,000 retainer for the tree houses, with two further unspecified financial retainers to be due later on in the process.

Not every part of the work ran into issues, either, as a $1.28 million-estimated “Waterfall House” was excluded from the legal action.

A spokesperson for the Chan-Zuckerberg family denied the charges in the lien, saying that “To our knowledge, we have paid all invoices submitted by Williams Construction in full.”

Mechanics liens in Hawaii operate differently from those in many other states, making this a much different type of process than similar ones in different states.

After liens have been served, the circuit court of the circuit in which the involved property is located needs to hold a hearing to determine if the lien has probable cause to be enforced and can actually attach to the property. As of time of reporting, the hearing has been scheduled for November 16, 2022.