North Carolina Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs

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North Carolina Preliminary Notice FAQs

About North Carolina Preliminary Notices

North Carolina Preliminary Notice Rules
At a Glance


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lien waiver forms required
Preliminary Notices Are Required

Yes. North Carolina requires a preliminary notice to be sent to a “lien agent” (a title insurance company). Additionally other notice requirements may apply, as well.


15
DAYS
GCs Must Send Notice

Notice to Lien Agent required within 15 days from first furnishing labor and/or materials.


15
DAYS
Subcontractors Must Send Notice

Notice to Lien Agent required within 15 days from first furnishing labor and/or materials. Notice of Subcontract if Notice of Contract Filed by Prime Contractor.


15
DAYS
Suppliers Must Send Notice

Notice to Lien Agent required within 15 days from first furnishing labor and/or materials. Notice of Subcontract if Notice of Contract Filed by Prime Contractor.


icon-can waive lien rights
Notice Can Generally Be Sent Late

The notice to lien agent may be effective if sent after the general 15-day deadline has elapsed. North Carolina law seems to provide that the notice is still effective to preserve lien rights if provided prior to the conveyance of the underlying property. Notice of subcontract has no specific time requirement, however, the general contractor is only required to notify the sub of payments made after the receipt of the notice of subcontract, so the sooner it is filed, the better. If filed, the GC's notice of contract must be filed within 30 days oafter the building permit is issued or it is ineffective.


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Send to Lien Agent; File With Clerk of Court; Send to GC

The party that must receive the notice depends on the notice itself. The preliminary notice to lien agent must be provided to the lien agent. A notice of contract must be filed with the clerk of court for the county in which the project occurred. And, a notice of subcontract must be provided to the GC.

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Preliminary Notice Generally Required

North Carolina generally requires preliminary notice to be sent by participants on public projects, subject to some requirements and limitations. Additionally, GCs are required to provide an informational notice to each sub with whom they contract.


In
Contract with Sub
GCs Must Provide Informational Notice

While GCs don't have the ability to make a claim against the payment bond they obtained for the protection of sub-tier parties, they still have notice requirements in North Carolina. GCs must provide an informational notice to subs.


75
DAYS
Subs May Be Required to Provide Notice

Subcontractors whose claim is greater than $20,000 must provide a “Notice of Public Subcontract” within 75 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials to the project.


75
DAYS
Suppliers May Be Required to Provide Notice

Suppliers whose claim is greater than $20,000 must provide a “Notice of Public Subcontract” within 75 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials to the project.


icon-can waive lien rights
Notice Can be Sent Late

The “Notice of Public Subcontract” may be given later than 75 days, but it will only be partially effective to preserve the right to make a bond claim. Late notice will only preserve the right to make a claim for labor and/or materials furnished in the 75 days immediately prior to sending the notice.


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Send to GC; Send to Subs

A notice of public subcontract must be provided to the GC.
The GC's informational project statement must be provided to subs.

North Carolina has an interesting preliminary notice scheme, but it can be confusing. North Carolina amended it’s notice and lien laws in 2013, so those changes shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody by now – but there are still nuances to consider that can make compliance with the rules and requirements related to preliminary notice in North Carolina tricky. There are different notices that may be required in different situations, but the overarching notice requirement is the “Notice to Lien Agent.”

North Carolina created the lien agent concept in their notice requirements pursuant to legislation in 2013. The lien agent in North Carolina, and the required notice to that lien agent, was designed to confront the problem of “hidden liens.” In order for project participants in North Carolina to retain the right to file a valid and enforceable mechanics lien on most projects, they must first give preliminary notice to a designated lien agent. In North Carolina, the lien agent is required to be, “a title insurance company or title insurance agency designated by an owner pursuant to G.S. 44A-11.1.”

For any private project in North Carolina in which the original building permit is $30,000 or more, the owner is required to designate a lien agent (“title insurance company”) — and the potential lien claimant must serve this lien agent with a preliminary notice in order to protect his rights. The lien agent must be noted on the building permit for projects for which a building permit is required, which should be posted at the job site. If it is not, a potential lien claimant may request the identity of the lien agent by sending a written request to the property owner, who has 7 days in which to respond. Further, a contractor or subcontractor must provide a material supplier with a notice identifying the Lien Agent within 3 days of contracting with that supplier.

Generally, these notices are provided through the North Carolina online lien agent system liensnc. However, despite the official sounding name, and the general ease of electronic noticing (when everything is listed correctly) it’s not strictly necessary to provide the notice through that portal.

North Carolina law provides several methods of delivery of the notice to lien agent authorized by statute, including:

(1) Certified mail, return receipt requested.
(2) Signature confirmation as provided by the United States Postal Service.
(3) Physical delivery and obtaining a delivery receipt from the lien agent.
(4) Facsimile with a facsimile confirmation.
(5) Depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2).
(6) Electronic mail, with delivery receipt.

Number 6 on the list is especially intriguing. While there has not yet been litigation surrounding the sufficiency of a notice delivered via e-mail, it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Additionally, while supposedly required, the notice to lien agent (and its deadline) appears to not technically matter related to the ability to file a lien, provided the notice is given or the lien filed prior to the conveyance of the underlying property to a bona fide purchaser for value.

North Carolina also provides a mechanism for a general contractor to protect himself from double payment liability through subrogation liens filed by second or third tier subcontractors, if subcontractors don’t provide an additional notice timely. If the notice of contract is filed by the general contractor, the subcontractors and suppliers must file a notice of subcontract.

Preliminary Notice Frequently Asked Questions

If you're sending preliminary notices in North Carolina, it's important to get all the details right. There are multiple notices that may be required, and each have specific rules and requirements. If you're receiving prelims, it's important to know what you're looking at and know what to do in followup. Since prelims in North Carolina can be especially confusing, this can be a difficult and tedious process. Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about the North Carolina preliminary notice process.

Prelim FAQs on Private Projects

Do I Need to Send a North Carolina Preliminary Notice?

Yes. North Carolina requires a preliminary notice to be sent to a “lien agent” (a title insurance company). However, a lien agent is not required on projects for which the original building permit was less than $30,000 or on an owner-occupied, single-family residence. Notice to Lien Agent must be made within 15 days from the potential lien claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project.  We discuss this requirement, which took effect April 1, 2013, in the following article:  Lien Agent: The Most Dramatic Change to North Carolina’s Mechanics Lien Laws.

North Carolina also provides a mechanism for a general contractor to protect himself from double payment liability through subrogation liens filed by second or third tier subcontractors. If the notice of contract is filed by the general contractor, the subcontractors and suppliers must file a notice of subcontract.

When do I Need to Send a North Carolina Preliminary Notice?

The Notice to Lien Agent must be sent within 15 days of the potential lien claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project.

If utilized, a Notice of Contract must be filed by the general contractor within 30 days after the building permit is issued for the project. The notice should be filed with the Clerk of Court in the county in which the property is located, and posted in a visible location at the project site adjacent to the posted building permit.

A Notice of Subcontract must be served on the general contractor to identify the lower tier subcontractor. There is no specific time requirement to serve the general with the notice of subcontract; it may be served prior to the furnishing of labor or materials or at anytime thereafter. However, the general contractor is only required to notify the sub of payments made after the receipt of the notice of subcontract. Therefore, the sooner it is filed, the better.

What if I Send the North Carolina Preliminary Notice Late?

There has been no litigation yet related to the new notice provision as it went into effect on April 1, 2013. However, the express language of the requirement makes the failure to timely send the preliminary notice fatal to a lien claim. At the very least, it appears that the priority of the lien will be adversely affected if the requirement is considered valid.

If the general contractor fails to file and post the Notice of Contract in the required time period, he is not protected against potential double payment through subrogation liens filed by second or third tier subs or suppliers.

There is no set time requirement for serving the general contractor with the notice of subcontract. So in a strict sense, it cannot be late. However, a sub is only entitled to receive notice of payments made after the notice was given.

How Should the North Carolina Preliminary Notice be Sent?

The preliminary notice may be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested (or other means providing notification of receipt). These notices may also be filed electronically with a new service that is operated by title insurance companies in North Carolina, LiensNC.com.  We explain how this service works and give it a review in these two articles:

The Notice of Contract must be filed with the Clerk of Court in the county in which the property is located, and posted in a visible location at the project site adjacent to the posted building permit.

The Notice of Subcontract must be provided to the general contractor – but no specific provision sets forth the manner in which he must be served. Best practice may be to send the notice by certified mail.

Do I Have to Send the North Carolina Preliminary Notice to Someone Other than the Owner?

The Preliminary Notice to Lien Agent must be sent to the Lien Agent appointed in the building permit. If the building permit does not list the Lien Agent, any party may request that information and must receive a reply from the property owner within 7 days. Further, the general or any subcontractor is required to provide any supplier with whom they contract the name of the Lien Agent within 3 days of contracting with that supplier.

The Notice of Contract must be filed with the Clerk of Court of the county in which the property is located, and posted at the project site; the notice of subcontract must be provided to the general contractor.

Is the North Carolina Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?

It is unclear whether the Preliminary Notice to Lien Agent is considered delivered upon sending or receipt. However, the requirement that the notice be served via a method providing notice of actual receipt seems to indicate that the actual receipt of the notice is required.

Notice is considered filed when filed, and posted on the jobsite. It is not specified whether notice of subcontract is considered delivered when sent or received as there are no specific requirements as to how to send it.

Prelim FAQs on Public Projects

Do I Need to Send a North Carolina Preliminary Notice?

It depends. Subcontractors whose claim is greater than $20,000 must provide a “Notice of Public Subcontract” within 75 days of first furnishing labor and/or materials to the project. This notice is not require for claims less than $20,000, and is only required for the amount exceeding $20,000 when the claim is greater than $20,000.

Further, General Contractors must provide every subcontractor it engages to perform labor or furnish materials a “Contractor’s Project Statement” that includes the following information:

  1. The name of the project.
  2. The physical address of the project.
  3. The name of the contracting body.
  4. The name of the contractor.
When do I Need to Send a North Carolina Preliminary Notice?

Subcontractor’s should provide the “Notice of Public Subcontract” within 75 days of first furnishing labor and/or material to the project. However, if the General Contractor failed to provide a copy of the bond within 7 calendar days of a proper written request, the 75 day deadline is waived.

The statutory sections concerning the General Contractor’s “Contractor’s Project Statement” contain no specific date by which it must be provided to the subcontractors.

What if I Send the North Carolina Preliminary Notice Late?

The “Notice of Public Subcontract” may be given later than 75 days, but it will only be partially effective to preserve the right to make a bond claim. Late notice will only preserve the right to make a claim for labor and/or materials furnished in the 75 days immediately prior to sending the notice. Work provided more than 75 days prior to sending notice will not be protected.

How Should the North Carolina Preliminary Notice be Sent?

Notice, when required, should be sent via certified mail, or by signature confirmation as provided by the United States Postal Service, postage prepaid, or served in any manner provided by law for the service of summons.

The “Contractor’s Project Statement” should be “provided” to the subcontractors.

To Whom Must the North Carolina Preliminary Notice be Given?

Notice of Public Subcontract must be provided to the General Contractor.

The Contractor’s Project Statement should be provided to the subcontractors.

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Recent Questions & Answers
About North Carolina Preliminary Notices

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North Carolina Preliminary Notice Form Template

North Carolina preliminary notice forms are regulated by statute. North Carolina mandates that certain specific information (and a lot of it) must be included on most preliminary notice forms, and some preliminary notices even need to substantially follow specific templates set out by North Carolina statute. The forms provided here for free by Levelset are compliant with the North Carolina rules. You can download them for free, or use our system to send or request them easily.

North Carolina Notice of Contract Form - free from

North Carolina Notice of Contract Form

While not required, a prime contractor may benefit from filing and posting a Notice of Contract. This must be filed with the recorder and posted...

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North Carolina Notice of Subcontract Form - free from

North Carolina Notice of Subcontract Form

If you are a 2nd or 3rd tier subcontractor or supplier, you may want to consider sending a Notice of Subcontract to the contractor. While...

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North Carolina Notice to Lien Agent Form - free from

North Carolina Notice to Lien Agent Form

North Carolina requires those who provide labor, equipment or materials to a construction or renovation project to send a Notice to Lien Agent in order...

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