Washington Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs

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Washington Preliminary Notice FAQs

About Washington Preliminary Notice

Washington Preliminary Notice Rules
At a Glance


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Preliminary Notices Are Required

Preliminary notice is required, but the type depends on the project and participant role.


0
DAYS
GCs Must Send Notice

Under some circumstances, Notice to Owner required before commencing work. Model Disclosure Statement due before work begins on all residential projects of over $1,000; and commercial projects between $1,000 and $60,000.


60
DAYS
Subcontractors Must Send Notice

Notice of Right to Claim Lien within 60 days from first delivering labor or materials.

NOTE, that on the new construction of a single-family home, the Notice to Owner should be delivered within 10 days of first providing labor or materials to the project.


60
DAYS
Suppliers Must Send Notice

Notice of Right to Claim Lien within 60 days from first delivering labor or materials.

NOTE, that on the new construction of a single-family home, the Notice to Owner should be delivered within 10 days of first providing labor or materials to the project.


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Notice Can Generally be Sent Late

A late notice in all commercial cases, and on a remodel, alteration, or repair of an owner-occupied single-family residence will protect your lien rights for 60 days prior to the date the Notice was delivered. In the case of a new construction of a single-family home, a late notice will protect your lien rights for the 10 days preceding the delivery of the notice.


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Send to Owner and GC

Preliminary notice on Washington should always be given to the property owner. Notice form project participants that did not contract directly with the property owner must also be delivered to the GC.

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Preliminary Notice Required

Washington requires any party furnishing materials, supplies, or provisions to any subcontractor to send preliminary notice to the general contractor to preserve the right to prosecute a bond claim.


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N/A

On public jobs, any claims for non-payment are made against the general contractor's bond. Since GCs will not make a claim against their own bond for non-payment, they do not have bond claim rights, and have no preliminary notice requirement.


10
DAYS
Subs Must Send Notice

Subs must deliver Notice to Contractor to the prime contractor within 10 days if contracted with a sub or sub-sub.


10 or 60
DAYS
Suppliers Must Send Notice

Suppliers must deliver Notice to Contractor to the prime contractor within 10 days if contracted with a sub or sub-sub.


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Notice Cannot be Sent Late

When required, failure to give the preliminary notice timely is fatal to a bond claim in Washington.


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Send to GC

The preliminary notice, when required, must be delivered to the general contractor.

Preliminary notice is required, but the particular notice required depends on the project type and participant role in Washington.

General Contractor Requirements

Project participants who did contract directly with the property owner are required to provide the owner a Model Disclosure Statement:

  1. If the work involves the repairing, altering or building of 4 or fewer residential units on residential property and the bid price is $1,000 or more, or
  2. When the work to be done is on a commercial building and the bid price is between $1,000 – 60,000.

Failure to send a Model Disclosure Statement can have significant consequences. A required party who fails to send this document can lose their lien rights and be subject to a fine.

Subcontractor & Supplier Requirements

Parties that did not contract directly with the property owner are generally required to serve a Washington Notice to Owner in order to protect their lien rights.

Note that parties who only furnish labor are not specifically required to send a preliminary notice in Washington (though a Model Disclosure statement will still be required for those parties contracting directly with the owner).

Washington’s “labor only” exception is a bit less known, which is that it protects at least some work performed by subcontractors who should have sent off a preliminary notice, but didn’t. So, here is the deal:

  1. Parties that furnish only labor to a project do not need to deliver preliminary notice in Washington State.
  2. If you furnish only materials to a project, you always need to deliver preliminary notice in Washington state. If you don’t deliver this notice, you’ll have no lien rights whatsoever.
  3. Contractors that furnish labor and materials to a project are supposed to deliver preliminary notice in Washington state. However, if you don’t deliver this notice, you’ll have a right to file a mechanics lien related to your labor only.

However, if there is any material component to the contract or furnishing, preliminary notice is required to protect the ability to later file a mechanics lien if one becomes necessary. In a circumstance in which project participant is providing labor and materials, it may be possible to file a lien for the labor portion of the work (and exclude the materials cost) without a preliminary notice…however, it is a best practice to avoid this need. It’s best practice to send preliminary notice to owner on every construction project in Washington.

 

As you can see, Washington’s statute contains some interesting nuances that affect preliminary notice requirements. Understand when you are required to send preliminary notice on a Washington construction project.

Preliminary Notice Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of things that you need to know if you're sending preliminary notices in Washington, and it's important to get all the details right. If you're receiving prelims, it's important to know what you're looking at and know what to do in followup. Since prelims are subject to a lot of complex rules and requirements, this can be a difficult and tedious task. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Washington preliminary notice process, with answers written by construction attorneys and Washington payment experts.

Prelim FAQs on Private Projects

Who needs to send a Washington Preliminary Notice?

If you did not contract directly with the owner on a Washington construction project, you are required to provide the owner with a Notice to Owner.

Note that if you are only furnishing labor, sub-tier parties are not technically required to send a Washington preliminary notice. However, if there is any material component to the contract or furnishing, preliminary notice is required to protect your full mechanics lien rights. In the circumstance when you are providing labor and materials, it may be possible to file a lien for the labor portion of the work without a preliminary notice. However, it is a best practice to send preliminary notice on every Washington project in order to avoid this need.

Direct contractors (e.g. General Contractors) must send a Model Disclosure statement if the project meets certain requirements:

  •  when your work involves the repairing, altering or building of 4 or fewer residential units on residential property and the bid price is $1,000 or more, or
  • when the work to be done is on a commercial building and the bid price is between $1,000 – 60,000

When do I Need to Send a Washington Preliminary Notice?

If you did not contract directly with the owner, the “Notice to Owner” can be sent at any time, but it only protects your rights to claim a lien for a limited period of time prior to delivery of the notice. To fully preserve your lien rights, the Notice to Owner must be delivered within 60 days of the date labor or materials were first furnished to the property for all commercial cases, and on a remodel, alteration, or repair of an owner-occupied single-family residence. If your work was the new construction of a single-family home, the Notice to Owner should be delivered within 10 days of first providing labor or materials to the project.

Read the Ultimate Guide to Washington’s Notice to Owner.

If you contracted directly with the Owner, the Model Disclosure Statement form must be delivered prior to the initiation of work. The statement must be signed by the Owner, and you must retain a copy of the signed document for at least three years. Learn more about how Washington’s Model Disclosure Statement works.

What if I Send the Washington Preliminary Notice Late?

If you miss the required date and deliver the Notice to Owner late, all is not necessarily lost.

  • If the project is for new construction of a single-family home, a late notice will protect your lien rights for the 10 days preceding the delivery of the notice.
  • A late notice in all commercial cases, and on a remodel, alteration, or repair of an owner-occupied single-family residence will protect your lien rights for 60 days prior to the date the Notice was delivered.

Learn more about the protection provided by Washington’s preliminary notice.

In the case of direct contractors, failing to provide a Model Disclosure Statement before the project begins will lose their lien rights.

How Should the Washington Preliminary Notice be Sent?

If you contracted directly with the owner, the Model Disclosure Statement form must be delivered to, and signed by, the owner. Because the owner must sign the form, delivery method isn’t as important as for other types of notices.

If you are delivering a “Notice to Owner”, it may either be sent to the owner via certified or registered mail, or personally delivered to, or served on, the owner. If the notice is personally delivered or served to the owner, a signed receipt from the owner or an affidavit of service is required.

Keep in mind when calculating deadlines that in Washington a preliminary notice is considered served 3 days after mailing – not upon delivery.

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

If you did not contract directly with the prime contractor, notice must also be given to the prime contractor. Download a free Washington Notice to Contractor form.

An interesting situation arises when working on condominium projects in Washington state. At the start of a condo project, it’s possible that the entire facility is owned by a single development company. However, this may not be the case, and if work is being performed on common elements after the units have already been sold, the condominium project may be owned by an assortment of different parties. This creates a complicated legal question about who must receive the preliminary notice. Learn more about providing preliminary notices on condominium projects in Washington.

Is the Washington Preliminary Notice Requirement met when sent or delivered?

If sent by registered or certified mail, the notice is considered delivered three days after mailing, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.

Prelim FAQs on Public Projects

Do I Need to Send a Washington Preliminary Notice on a public project?

It depends. Washington requires any party furnishing materials, supplies, or provisions to any subcontractor to send preliminary notice to the general contractor to preserve the right to make a bond claim in Washington.

Download a free Notice to Contractor form.

When do I Need to Send a Washington Preliminary Notice in order to make a bond claim?

When required, the preliminary notice must be delivered or mailed to the general contractor no later than 10 days from the date of claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project.

What if I Send the Washington Preliminary Notice Late?

When required, failure to give the preliminary notice timely is fatal to a bond claim in Washington.

How Should the Washington Preliminary Notice be Sent on a public project?

Washington statutes provide no concrete answer to how the preliminary notice must be sent on public projects. However, it appears that actual receipt is necessary. It is likely advisable to send the notice via certified or registered mail. If you have it served personally, it’s always a good idea to get a record of the receipt.

Who do I need to send preliminary notice to on a public project in Washington?

The preliminary notice, when required, must be delivered to the general contractor.

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How to file a lien in Washington

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Washington Preliminary Notice Form Template

The Washington preliminary notice forms are regulated by statute. This doesn’t mean that the form has to look a certain way, but it does mean that the document must contain certain required information. The forms provided here for free by Levelset are compliant with the Washington rules. You can download them for free, or use our system to send or request them easily.

Washington Model Disclosure Statement Form - free from

Washington Model Disclosure Statement Form

Washington contractors who have a contract with the property owner can use this free Model Disclosure Statement form to protect their right to file a...

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Washington Notice to Owner (Preliminary Notice) Form - free from

Washington Notice to Owner (Preliminary Notice) Form

Subcontractors and suppliers can use this free Washington Notice to Owner form to fulfill their requirements to send a Notice to Owner on private construction...

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Washington Notice to Contractor Form - free from

Washington Notice to Contractor Form

Subcontractors and suppliers in Washington can use this Notice to Contractor form to send notice to the general contractor and retain the right to file...

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