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If I have 5 different contracts with the homeowner, will I have to file 5 differnt liens? I have satisfied all 5

North CarolinaChange OrdersConstruction ContractMechanics LienRight to Lien

I am a GC. Entered into initial contract with homeowner. Scope of work expanded. Entered into 4 additional contracts. Satisfied those 4 and performed additional work at his request. Homeowner is refusing to pay.

1 reply

Jul 18, 2019
That's an interesting situation. First, I'll mention that when the scope of work is being expanded past what was originally contemplated, most construction businesses opt to alter that original scope via change orders. Through properly executed change orders, each change becomes incorporated into the originally signed contract. For more on change orders: Change Order Form — Free Template Download and Best Practices

Anyway, to the question at hand...

We've actually seen this situation play out in Florida, and as mentioned in that article, the court found that because there were separate contracts executed, a separate lien must be filed for each contract. While every state's mechanics lien laws are different, there's reason to believe that a separate lien would be required for each separate contract in North Carolina, too.

Under § 44-A8 of the North Carolina mechanics lien statute, North Carolina mechanics lien claimants will have the right to lien "to secure payment of all debts owing for labor done or professional design or surveying services or material furnished or equipment rented pursuant to the contract." Because the lien statute appears to limit a lien claim merely to debts owed "pursuant to the contract", it's reasonable to believe that one lien filing for work performed under multiple, separate contracts might end up being deemed invalid. Thus, the much safer solution would likely be to file a mechanics lien based on each contract for which work has been performed but not paid for.

Of course, before resorting to a mechanics lien filing, it's generally a good idea to pursue payment in a less official way - like trying to talk it out with the nonpaying customer, or by merely threatening a lien claim (like with a Notice of Intent to Lien. Still, every project and every dispute is different, so what may be a good idea on one job might not make sense for another.
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