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Notice of Completion
Guide & FAQs

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

What is a Notice of Completion?

A notice of completion is voluntary construction document that establishes the official “date of completion” for the project. 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 can start the clock ticking on important deadlines for contractors, suppliers, and others who worked on the project.

How it works

In states where a Notice of Completion is used, it can affect the release of retainage, the deadline to file a mechanics lien, and the warranty period. The property owner is generally the party responsible for filing this notice, though the prime contractor may file it on the owner’s behalf. A subcontractor or supplier doesn’t need to file it, though they do need to know when it is filed.

For example, in California, filing a Notice of Completion can shorten the deadline to file a lien from 90 days down to 60 or even 30 days, depending on your role on the project. In Utah, this notice cuts the filing deadline in half, from 180 days down to 90 days.

States where it’s used

There are eight (8) states in which a Notice of Completion affects the payment rights and responsibilities of parties on a construction project:

How to find out if a Notice of Completion was filed

Ask the County Recorder

The owner is typically required to file the notice with the county recorder where the project took place. Check the county records for the property to get information about any documents filed.

Send preliminary notice

A preliminary notice is a document sent at the beginning of a construction project. As if there weren’t already enough arguments for why you should send preliminary notice, here’s another one. Some states, like California and Arizona, require the property owner to notify all parties who have supplied them with a preliminary notice, informing them of the Notice of Completion filing and the new mechanics lien deadline.

This means that sending preliminary notice will require the owner to give you a written notice before shortening your lien deadline.


Frequently asked questions about the notice of completion, with answers written by construction attorneys and payment experts.

Is a notice of completion required?

In all of the states that use it, it is a voluntary document that signals the end of a construction project. For more, see What is a notice of completion?

Who files a Notice of Completion?

The property owner typically files it. However, the prime contractor may also file it on behalf of the owner. For more, see What is a notice of completion?

In what circumstances is a Notice of Completion normally used?

It is used to indicate that a construction project has been completed, and to start the clock running on certain deadlines and requirements.

How do I know if a Notice of Completion was filed?

The best way to find out is to send preliminary notice at the beginning of every project. In most states, property owners are required to notify everyone who sent preliminary notice before filing a Notice of Cessation or Completion. This gives you advance warning of the change in deadline.

If you failed to send a preliminary notice, you may be able to get the information from the county clerk or recorder's office.

What happens if a Notice of Completion isn't filed?

A notice of completion is a voluntary or optional document. If the property owner doesn't file a notice of completion, then the deadlines and requirements don't change. The lien filing deadline may be calculated from the date of last furnishing, substantial completion, or some combination.

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

Yes, only a handful of states have statutes that reference it. 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 a Notice of Completion?

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • 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 completion 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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Construction attorneys: Courtney Stricklen, Christopher Ng, Andrea Goldman, and Peter Ryan
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