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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>I'm a designer (non licensed) a client pulled a demo and foundation repair permit on a job I was in contract for. He cancelled the job before getting to the building permit for the repair. I consulted with him regarding the demo and foundation repair and coordinated with the engineer. Does that permit allow me to file a lien?

I'm a designer (non licensed) a client pulled a demo and foundation repair permit on a job I was in contract for. He cancelled the job before getting to the building permit for the repair. I consulted with him regarding the demo and foundation repair and coordinated with the engineer. Does that permit allow me to file a lien?

CaliforniaLawsuitLien DeadlinesMechanics LienPayment DisputesPreliminary Notice

I am an unlicensed residential designer. License is not required for single family residential up to two floors. A client contracted with me to design a remodel. Because he was in a rush he pulled a demo and foundation repair permit and work commenced while I was designing. He cancelled the job right before I was supposed to pull the permit and now he doesn't want to pay because he says the job was not finished. Does the demo and foundation repair allow me to file a lien? Also, the lender wasn't notified of my contract. Do I have any danger of being sued for slander of title?

1 reply

Nov 16, 2017
In California, design professionals are entitled to both a "design professional's lien" and a general mechanics lien. However, there are strict requirements for both that can preclude the filing of a valid and enforceable lien.

Notably there are at least two issues that jump out with respect to a design professional's lien: 1) a design professional is defined by statute as: "a person licensed as an architect . . . licensed as a landscape architect . . . registered as a professional engineer . . . or licensed as a land surveyor; and 2) "A design professional is not entitled to a lien under this chapter unless all of the following conditions are satisfied: (a) The work of improvement for which the design professional provided services has not commenced . . . (emphasis added). Both of these appear to present issues base don your comments.

Regarding a regular mechanics lien, a direct contractor is required to send a preliminary notice to the construction lender. When required, the failure to provide a preliminary notice in California is fatal to a subsequent lien claim.

There is always the potential danger of being faced with a lawsuit in the event a filed lien is of questionable validity. Most times, if the lien is released if demanded it doesn't get that far as there would be little to no damages and the time and expense isn't worth it, but it is a potential threat. Further, if the property owner believes the lien to be invalid, and the lien actually is invalid, there is generally no benefit to having it filed in any event.
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