Architect/Engineer’s Lien Rights in FL

1 year ago

We are an architect in Florida that sometimes takes on jobs where we never visit the construction site. What would be considered our first and last date of work in those cases?

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
Senior Legal Associate Levelset
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That’s an interesting question. Because architects, engineers, and “design professionals” in general are typically hired directly by the property owner, and therefore a Notice to Owner is likely not required, I’ll assume you’re inquiring about the first furnishing date because that information would need to be included for a potential mechanics lien claim. Under § 713.08(f) of the Florida mechanics lien statute, “The time when the first and the last item of labor or service or materials was furnished” must be included on the face of a mechanics lien claim. Generally, this timeframe refers to the first time when labor and/or materials are furnished at the project site. However, for those who have provided professional services which give rise to their lien claim, work for the project may begin well before any site work begins. In those situations, it can be hard to specifically nail down exactly when work began. However, a claimant will generally need to come up with a date that represents when services began which gave rise to the lien claim. If the lien is being filed for certain work, then when that work began might be appropriate – regardless of whether that work was technically done on-site or not. But, ultimately, it’s important to remember that the Florida lien statute does provide some flexibility. Under § 713.08(4)(a), details that are omitted or minor errors in a lien claim won’t leave a claim invalid or unenforceable unless the issue adversely affected someone that was affected by the lien claim. So, by adding a conservative date for when “first furnishing” occurred, claimants can generally play things safe when creating a lien claim – and slight errors will not invalidate the claim, as long as the error doesn’t adversely affect some other party. As far as determining the last furnishing date, generally, this will refer to the last time that labor, materials, equipment, or services are provided, as required by the claimant’s contract. Note, though, that for the purposes of making a Florida mechanics lien claim, this date tends to be much more important. The deadline to file a Florida mechanics lien is 90 days from the claimant’s last furnishing. So, generally, if there’s some doubt as to what date constitutes last furnishing, it’s safer to play things safe and assume that last furnishing occurs earlier than later. Note, though, that measuring last furnishing by other standards like the issuance of a certificate of occupancy or the certificate of final completion will not substitute for “final furnishing”. Further, note that corrective work or other minor/incidental work may not work to move this deadline back, either. For more information on Florida’s mechanics lien rules, this resource should be valuable: Florida Lien & Notice Overview.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Rather, this content is provided for informational purposes. Do not act on this information as if it is advice. Further, this post does not create any attorney-client relationship. If you do need legal advice, seek the help of a local attorney.
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