owner refuse to pay balance because wants other work done separate from original contract
May 29, 2019
I'm sorry to hear that you have a payment dispute, and are in a position where a lien may be needed. While liens can be very useful to make sure you get paid what you deserve, nobody wants to need to take that step.
Whether a valid and enforceable lien may be filed is a question with several parts, including: 1) whether the work is ""lienable;" 2) whether the appropriate notices were sent (if any were required); 3) whether the party has the necessary license to perform the work; and 3) whether the timing is ok.
In California, a contractor must be licensed in order to file a mechanics lien (if the type of work performed requires a license). This is a very strict requirement in California, and being unlicensed has addition penalties other than just a prohibition on filing an enforceable lien.
It also needs to be determined whether the work performed gives rise to a lien right. In California, lien rights extend to direct contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment lessors, laborers, design professionals, and any person providing work authorized for a site improvement. This "site improvement" must be a permanent improvement to property.
If the work is otherwise lienable, the notice and timing rules can come into play. California requires all participants (other than wage laborers) to provide a preliminary notice in order to retain the ability to file a lien. For parties who contract directly with the property owner, the notice requirement only applies if there was a construction lender funding the project. This preliminary notice should be delivered within 20 days from first furnishing labor or materials, but if given later will work to protect the value of the labor or materials furnished beginning from the date 20 days prior to when the notice was sent.
If the preliminary notice requirement has been met, or is not applicable, and payment has not been made, a lien may be filed after the completion of the claimant's work at any point prior to the earlier of either 90 days after completion of the work of improvement; or 60 days after the owner records a Notice of Completion or Cessation.