We are the prime contractor crushing gravel for a customer. The owner of the pit where we are working is also the owner of the business we were contracted by. The project is bid over 200k. What is required in WA state (if anything), for pre-lien, notice to owner, etc.? If the situation arose, do we need to file a lien notice prior to lien?

Answered 1 week ago

1542 Answered Questions

Matt Viator

Legal Associate Levelset

That's a good question. First and foremost - it's worth mentioning that it's generally good practice to send preliminary notice, even when one isn't required. Notices help create a more communicative and collaborative atmosphere at the very least, plus there's little harm in sending a notice if it wasn't actually required - for most parties, it's pretty much all upside.

With that being said, let's look at Washington's notice requirements for prime contractors.

For Washington prime contractors working on private projects, a Model Disclosure Statement will be required a lot of the time. For commercial jobs, a Model Disclosure Statement must be sent any time the project costs $60,000 or less. But, when the contractor's work exceeds $60,000, notice does not appear to be required in order to preserve the right to lien.

While that's relatively cut and dry, it's worth noting that a property owner might be considered a "prime contractor" themselves, in some situations. If that's the case, a party who might consider themselves the prime contractor would, in fact, be considered a subcontractor. Specifically, when a property owner is a contractor themselves (be that a prime, general, or specialty contractor), or if their business is otherwise required to be registered or licensed by law, they might be considered a prime contractor based on the definition given at RCWA § 60.04.011(12).

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at the notice requirements for Washington subcontractors, to be safe. In Washington, those who are hired by someone other than the property owner must send a Notice to Owner in order to preserve their lien rights. The notice must be sent within 60 days of the date when labor or materials were first furnished to the project (though late notice has some limited effectiveness).

So, whether some notice (either a Model Disclosure Statement or a Notice to Owner) is required will depend on both the bid price, and whether or not the owner is also considered a "prime contractor" for the purposes of Washington's mechanics lien laws. And, as mentioned above, if there's any doubt as to whether notice is required, sending preliminary notices might be the safest option - and it could have additional benefits, beyond just preserving lien rights, as well.

For more information on Washington's lien and notice rules, these resources will be helpful:
(1) Washington Preliminary Notice Guide, FAQS, and Help
(2) Washington Lien & Notice Overview.

Other Answered Questions