California Notice of Completion FAQs

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California Notice of Completion

In California, when a notice of completion or cessation is filed with the county recorder, it serves to shorten the lien finding period for contractors and suppliers on the project. If a notice of completion is not filed, contractors and suppliers have 90 days from final completion to file a lien. If a notice is filed, instead of 90 days, general contractors have only 60 days to file a lien, and suppliers and subcontractors have 30 days.

A notice of completion is completed by the owner or general contractor and filed with the county recorder. A copy of the notice must be sent to all contractors and suppliers who provided preliminary notices on the project.

A notice of completion is not required in California, but owners may file them to shorten the period they are vulnerable to liens.

Learn more: Should You Monitor for a California Notice of Completion?

California Notice of Completion FAQs

There is a lot of information to digest about notices of completion in California so a Q&A-style breakdown might be the easiest to follow. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about California’s notice of completion rules, requirements, and implications.

For Property Owners & Contractors

How does a notice of completion affect a construction project in California?

If a notice of completion is recorded for a project in California, it reduces the time between completion of the project and when liens can be filed.

If a notice of completion is not filed, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers have 90 days to file a lien from completion of the project. If a notice of completion is filed, general contractors have 60 days to file a lien from the date of the notice, and subcontractors and suppliers have 30 days.

Because the lien period is reduced substantially when a notice of completion is filed, it’s important for contractors and suppliers to find out if one has been filed.

Who needs to file a notice of completion in California?

The project owner or general contractor may file a notice of completion in California.

Generally, the owner is responsible for filing this document and getting it recorded, as it must be signed by the property owner.

Once recorded, a copy must be sent to all contractors and suppliers who provided preliminary notices on the project. This notice informs them of the revised lien filing deadlines.

How do I find out if a notice of completion was filed?

As per California Civil Code section 8190, the project owner or general contractor must send copies of the notice of completion to everyone who filed a preliminary notice on the project. If these copies are not sent, then the notice of completion has no effect on lien deadlines.

So, one way to ensure that you are informed if a notice of completion is filed is to send a preliminary notice on every project. There are services that will notify you of these filings, but they are a waste of money if you file preliminary notices, since if you don’t receive notification, the notice of completion has no effect.

Is a notice of completion required in California?

Short answer: No.

Without the notice of completion, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers have 90 days from the date the project is completed to file a mechanics lien in California. With the notice, general contractors have 60 days, and suppliers and subcontractors have 30 days from the date of the notice to file a lien.

The only effect of the notice of completion is to shorten the lien filing period.

Where is a notice of completion filed?

If you’re wondering how to file a notice of completion in California, it’s filed and recorded at the county clerk’s office in the county where the project is located.

To locate the appropriate clerk’s office, see our list here.

An original signed copy is recorded at the county, and copies of the recorded document are sent to the project owner, general contractor, and contractors and suppliers who provided preliminary notices.

Copies must be sent via certified or registered mail, so you have proof of when the notice was mailed.

What happens if a notice of completion isn't filed?

If a notice wasn’t filed with the county clerk’s office, then mechanics lien deadlines remain at 90 days after project completion.

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California Notice of Completion Form

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California Lien Waivers Statutes

The provisions of the California statutes that permit the filing of Notice of Completion can be found under California Civil Code Chapter 1. General Provisions [8180 – 8190], and are reproduced below.

CA Notice of Completion

§ 8180. When completion occurs

(a) For the purpose of this title, completion of a work of improvement occurs upon the occurrence of any of the following events:

(1) Actual completion of the work of improvement.

(2) Occupation or use by the owner accompanied by cessation of labor.

(3) Cessation of labor for a continuous period of 60 days.

(4) Recordation of a notice of cessation after cessation of labor for a continuous period of 30 days.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if a work of improvement is subject to acceptance by a public entity, completion occurs on acceptance.

§ 8182. Notice of completion

(a) An owner may record a notice of completion on or within 15 days after the date of completion of a work of improvement.

(b) The notice of completion shall be signed and verified by the owner.

(c) The notice shall comply with the requirements of Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 8100) of Title 1, and shall also include all of the following information:

(1) If the notice is given only of completion of a contract for a particular portion of the work of improvement as provided in Section 8186, the name of the direct contractor under that contract and a general statement of the work provided pursuant to the contract.

(2) If signed by the owner’s successor in interest, the name and address of the successor’s transferor.

(3) The nature of the interest or estate of the owner.

(4) The date of completion. An erroneous statement of the date of completion does not affect the effectiveness of the notice if the true date of completion is 15 days or less before the date of recordation of the notice.

(d) A notice of completion that does not comply with the provisions of this section is not effective.

(e) For the purpose of this section, “owner” means the owner who causes a building, improvement, or structure to be constructed, altered, or repaired, or that person’s successor in interest at the date a notice of completion is recorded, whether the interest or estate of the owner be in fee, as vendee under a contract of purchase, as lessee, or other interest or estate less than the fee. Where the interest or estate is held by two or more persons as joint tenants or tenants in common, any one or more of the cotenants may be deemed to be the “owner” within the meaning of this section.

§ 8184. Recording notice of completion

A notice of completion in otherwise proper form, verified and containing the information required by this title, shall be accepted by the recorder for recording and is deemed duly recorded without acknowledgment.

§ 8186. Recording notice of completion if improvement made pursuant to two or more direct contracts

If a work of improvement is made pursuant to two or more direct contracts, each covering a portion of the work of improvement:

(a) The owner may record a notice of completion of a direct contract for a portion of the work of improvement. On recordation of the notice of completion, for the purpose of Sections 8412 and 8414, a direct contractor is deemed to have completed the contract for which the notice of completion is recorded and a claimant other than a direct contractor is deemed to have ceased providing work.

(b) If the owner does not record a notice of completion under this section, the period for recording a claim of lien is that provided in Sections 8412 and 8414.

§ 8188. Notice of cessation

(a) An owner may record a notice of cessation if there has been a continuous cessation of labor on a work of improvement for at least 30 days prior to the recordation that continues through the date of the recordation.

(b) The notice shall be signed and verified by the owner.

(c) The notice shall comply with the requirements of Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 8100) of Title 1, and shall also include all of the following information:

(1) The date on or about which labor ceased.

(2) A statement that the cessation has continued until the recordation of the notice.

(d) For the purpose of this section, “owner” means the owner who causes a building, improvement, or structure to be constructed, altered, or repaired, or that person’s successor in interest at the date a notice of cessation is recorded, whether the interest or estate of the owner be in fee, as vendee under a contract of purchase, as lessee, or other interest or estate less than the fee. Where the interest or estate is held by two or more persons as joint tenants or tenants in common, any one or more of the cotenants may be deemed to be the “owner” within the meaning of this section.

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