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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I am a General Contractor that contracted with the owner directly. I still have a very small punch list. By your destination I have missed my Lien Window of 8/15/2018. Does the punch list count as not being completed ?

I am a General Contractor that contracted with the owner directly. I still have a very small punch list. By your destination I have missed my Lien Window of 8/15/2018. Does the punch list count as not being completed ?

CaliforniaLien DeadlinesRight to Lien

I performed a large re-build of a house in Malibu. The owner said he would pay me when it was done and now he wants me to communicate with his lawyer and that he doesn't believe he owes me anything. We are talking 155k in fees he owes me.

1 reply

Mar 4, 2019
I'm very sorry to hear that you're going unpaid - nobody should have to fight tooth and nail to receive what they're already owed for their hard work. Regarding the California deadline to file a lien - in California, a contractor hired directly by the property owner only has 90 days from completion of the project to file a mechanics lien. That is - unless an owner has filed a Notice of Completion (or Cessation). Then, the deadline will be 60 days from the Notice of Completion (or Cessation) to file a lien. So, keep in mind - in California, the deadline to file isn't based on the last time a claimant furnished labor or materials. Rather, it's based on when the project is complete as a whole - so, if there's work that was contemplated on the project that remains incomplete, then there may still be time to file a lien. At the same time, insignificant work and minor corrective work might not be enough to base the lien deadline off of. That idea is discussed in this article: I Returned to a Job - Does That Change the Lien Deadlines? Keep in mind, often, the mere threat of a mechanics lien claim will be enough to compel payment because mechanics liens are such a serious remedy. That idea is discussed in this article: What is a Notice of Intent to Lien?. Further, even in a situation where lien rights aren't available, there are always other options - such taking (or threatening to take) legal action like via a breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or even a prompt payment claim). If it looks like legal action (or the threat of it) might be necessary, in order to determine what options might make the most sense in your circumstances, it might be helpful to consult a local construction attorney. They'll be able to review all documentation, communication, and other information to determine how best to proceed. Finally, for more info on California mechanics lien claims, this resource should help: California Lien & Notice FAQs.
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