Notice of Completion
Guide & FAQs

In construction, a Notice of Completion shortens lien deadlines and limits owner liability.

What is a Notice of Completion?

  • Notice of Completion Resources

A notice of completion is a document stating that the construction project has reached actual completion. It’s also known as a notice of cessation. Once filed in the county clerk’s office and sent to the appropriate parties, a notice of completion establishes the official “date of completion” for the project.

Who files a Notice of Completion

The property owner files a Notice of Completion. It is not a notice that a General Contractor or subcontractor needs to file.

Why a Notice of Completion matters

In states where a Notice of Completion is used, it can affect the:

  • Release of retainage
  • Warranty period
  • Deadline for lien claims

Release of retainage

Retainage is typically released

Warranty period

Deadline to file a mechanics lien

In California, the mechanics lien deadline for lower-tiered parties from the subcontractor and below (see graphic, right) is typically 90 days from completion of the work. If a Notice of Completion or Cessation is filed, the deadline to file can be reduced to just 30 days.

States using Notice of Completion

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Utah

How to find out if a Notice of Completion was filed

Ask the County Recorder

The owner is required to file the Notice of Completion with the county recorder where the project took place.

Send preliminary notice

As if there weren’t already enough arguments for why you should send preliminary notice, here’s another one. California requires property owners to send Notice of Completion to any party that sent them preliminary notice.

 

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Notice of Completion

Who files a Notice of Completion?

A notice of completion is not always necessary. However, owners and contractors can choose to use this notice to signal the end of actual construction. 

In what circumstances is a Notice of Completion normally used?

A notice of completion is used when the project, or some distinct phase of a project, has been completed. Although there is no specific definition of actual completion, this can be triggered by any of the following: No more work or punch list items remain; occupation or use by the owner along with cessation of labor; cessation of labor; or acceptance by a public entity (if the project is subject to acceptance).

Does a Notice of Completion change according to the project location?

Yes, only a handful of states use a notice of completion. Most others use the “last day of furnishing” as the triggering event for deadlines to start running. Plus, each state that uses notices of completion have their own unique rules regarding timing and what rights might be limited by a notice of completion.

What states use Notice of Completion?

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Utah

Does a Notice of Completion change according to the project type?

Notices of completion can be used on both private and public projects. The timing and requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction.

What happens if I make a mistake with a Notice of Completion? What if I don’t send a Notice of Completion?

Even in states that use it, a notice of completion is optional.

Mistakes in a notice of completions are pretty rare, and they will only affect the validity of the notice. Failure to send or file a notice of completion will generally not affect the project itself, either.

The only real penalty for failure to send a notice of completion is the continued period of liability for owners and contractors for claims against them or the property. So, where a mistake is made with a notice of completion, typically, the only real consequence is that life goes on as if the notice of completion was never sent.

Is a Notice of Completion usually paired with anything else?

Since notices of completion are filed when the project has reached actual completion, many times these are filed when the owner has received a certificate of occupancy from building officials.

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