At levelset, we do our best to keep an eye out for interesting lien stories. While “interesting” and “lien” may seem to contradict each other, mechanics liens filed against significant people and projects are often newsworthy.
We’ve seen some notable figures deal with mechanics liens, including Justin Bieber, Birdman, and former Miss USA Kenya Moore. Many projects of public interest have mechanics liens filed against them, too, including the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta, to a Panda Express in Virginia, to Miami’s Frost Museum of Science, just to name a few . It appears that it’s time to add another one to the list- one of the country’s most anticipated restaurants has recently seen mechanics liens filed on the property.
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The property, SingleThread Farms, is a farm, restaurant, and inn in Healdsburg, California that takes the farm to table concept very seriously. The property is run by a husband and wife team- Kyle Connaughton is a renowned chef and prepares meals with ingredients grown on the farm, which is run by his wife Katina. There is also a 5 room inn above the restaurant that was meticulously designed and puts the utmost importance on the art of hospitality.
With the intense attention to detail and impressive qualifications of the Connaughtons, SingleThread Farms received plenty of love in anticipation of its opening. Both the Wall Street Journal and Eater have run stories on the restaurant, with Eater naming Single Thread the biggest opening of 2016. However, while the property has been painstakingly designed from top to bottom, it appears SingleThread’s developers may have been a little sloppy when it came to the payment of contractors and subcontractors.
Mechanics liens filed
For more details on this dispute, check out Healdsburg’s Single Thread Farms restaurant hit by construction liens.
The project’s general contractor, Behler Construction, claims it has gone unpaid along with 13 subcontractors. Adding to their frustration, the contractor and subcontractors worked overtime as they neared the end of the project in order to meet the December 2, 2016 opening date. What’s more, there were over 100 design changes throughout the life of the project, including substantial changes late in the build.
Despite the extra efforts to insure the project’s opening date, the contractor and subs have not been paid in full. As a result, $394,369 in claims have been made against the property by the GC and subs. Ultimately, the situation is not dissimilar to when a contractor recently filed a mechanics lien against Trump International in D.C. In both cases, contractors and subs worked at a breakneck pace in order to cater to aspirational opening dates of the property owner.
This has to be a frustrating ordeal for the contractors and subs. Considering the restaurant serves $300 meals and the inn charges $700 a night, their frustration is warranted. To this end, the general contractor and one subcontractor were quoted on the situation, and their words aptly describe the situation under which many liens are filed:
“We pushed for them in good faith. We did whatever we could do so they could open on time. They returned it by not paying. I’m pretty mad about it.” -Derek Babcock, flooring subcontractor.
“We don’t want to hurt their business or anything. We just want to get paid.” -Mike Behler, general contractor.
According to the developer, Up Ventures, much of the dispute has arisen due to the change orders and resulting delays. The company has stated that it is currently working to resolve the payment issues with the general contractor.
This type of inequity is a great example for why the ability to file a mechanics lien is so important for a contractor or sub’s recovery. If these laborers and materialmen could only rely on contract claims, recovery could take time and would be in the hands of the court system. Instead, contractors and subs can secure payment with lien rights and be sure that a property owner will feel the heat and quickly resolve the dispute.
For information on lien rights in California, head over to our California Construction Payment Resources.