About Washington Preliminary Notices
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:
- 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
- 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:
- Parties that furnish only labor to a project do not need to deliver preliminary notice in Washington State.
- 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.
- 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.