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How shall I proceed to protect my rights?

2 months ago

I am an architect in Denver Colorado. I have a client that has stated that they will not make the last payment without a substantial discount (after receiving all documents for City certificate for occupancy or contesting any of the work performed throughout the project until the final invoice).
I originally billed them on 14 May 2019. After a back and forth through the summer we decided to reduce the invoice and billed them again 24 September as a new invoice with the itemized reduction. There has been no response . I have consultants that need to be paid and at this point I believe that I need to protect my rights. What is the best approach at this time?

Steve Chucovich

Senior Legal Associate Levelset

Hey Steve,

Luckily for Colorado lien claimants, there isn’t an awful lot involved in preserving mechanics lien rights in Colorado. Many other states require that some sort of preliminary notice be sent early on in the life of a project in order to preserve the right to lien – but Colorado doesn’t require they be sent. However, in order to file a valid and enforceable Colorado mechanics lien, a lien claimant must keep an eye on their deadline, and they must send a Notice of Intent to Lien.

Colorado’s mechanics lien deadline

Colorado architects, along with other design professionals, are generally able to file a mechanics lien when they have “furnished designs, plans, plats, maps, specifications, drawings, estimates of cost, surveys, or superintendence, or who have rendered other professional or skilled service, or bestowed labor in whole or in part, describing or illustrating, or superintending such structure, or work done or to be done…

Generally, a mechanics lien must be filed within 4 months of the claimant’s last furnishing of labor or materials to the project. So, Colorado architects will typically have 4 months from the last date in which they performed any of the work, described above, to file their lien claims.

As I’ll touch on more below – the deadline is actually probably at least 10 days shorter than that.

Colorado’s Notice of Intent to Lien requirement

Mechanics lien claimants must send a Notice of Intent to Lien in order to file a valid and enforceable lien in Colorado. And, that document must be sent at least 10 days prior to filing a mechanics lien. So, if a lien claimant is coming up on their deadline – it’s important to send the document at least 10 days before the deadline. You can learn more about Colorado’s Notice of Intent requirement with this article: What Is a Colorado Notice of Intent to Lien?

It’s also worth mentioning that a Notice of Intent to Lien can go a long way toward recovering payment, all by itself. Property owners generally hate the prospect of a mechanics lien being filed against their property. So, if a claimant shows the owner that they’re serious and willing to proceed with a mechanics lien claim, they may be able to compel an owner to make payment. More on that idea here: What Is a Notice of Intent to Lien and Should You Send One?


For more background on Colorado’s mechanics lien process, these two resources should be helpful:
(1) Colorado Mechanics Lien Guide and FAQs
(2) How to File A Colorado Mechanics Lien

As a final note, keep in mind that there are always recovery options outside of the mechanics lien process that might be helpful to recover payments: Other Options For Recovery.

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