Wisconsin Preliminary Notice Guide and FAQs

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About Wisconsin Preliminary Notice

Wisconsin Preliminary Notice Rules
At a Glance


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Preliminary Notices Are Required

Wisconsin requires that certain preliminary notices be sent in order to have a valid lien claim. However, these notices depend on project type, the claimant’s tier, and are subject to exceptions. There is nothing that prohibits any party from sending preliminary notices. So to be safe, a preliminary notice may be sent by all parties on all projects.


10
DAYS
GCs Must Send Notice

Preliminary Notice in original contract or served on owner within 10 days after beginning work (if oral contract) Notice of intent to lien required 30 days before lien.


60
DAYS
Subcontractors Must Send Notice

Preliminary notice required 60 days after first providing labor or materials to owner. Notice of intent to lien required 30 days before lien.


60
DAYS
Suppliers Must Send Notice

Preliminary notice required 60 days after first providing labor or materials to owner. Notice of intent to lien required 30 days before lien.


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Notice May or May Not be Sent Late

Prime Contractor Notice: Failure to give the notice timely is generally fatal to a later lien claim

Sub/Supplier Notice: If given more than 60 days after the first furnishing of labor and/or materials, the notice only covers labor and/or materials furnished after the property owner receives notice.

Failure to provide notice of intent to lien timely is fatal to a subsequent lien claim.


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Send to Owner

Preliminary notice in Wisconsin must be delivered to the property owner. With respect to the notice of intent, it may be best practice to also send to the prime contractor and construction lender, if known.

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Preliminary Notice Required

In Wisconsin, preliminary notice is generally required to preserve a claimant’s right to make a bond claim, unless one of the specific exceptions apply.


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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.


60
DAYS
Subs Must Send Notice

In Wisconsin, preliminary notice is generally required to preserve a claimant’s right to make a bond claim, unless one of the specific exceptions apply.


60
DAYS
Suppliers Must Send Notice

In Wisconsin, preliminary notice is generally required to preserve a claimant’s right to make a bond claim, unless one of the specific exceptions apply.


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Notice Cannot be Sent Late

When required, preliminary notice is mandatory, and the failure to timely provide preliminary notice is fatal to the claim.


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Send to GC

In Wisconsin, preliminary notice should be delivered to the general contractor supplying the bond.

Wisconsin generally requires preliminary notice from all parties – there is one specific notice required for project participants who contract directly with the property owner (and who contract with at least one sub or supplier), and there is a different separate notice required for project participants who don’t contract directly with the property owner. When required, the direct contractor’s notice must be provided either in the contract itself or within 10 days of first furnishing labor or materials to the project; and, the sub-tier notice must be provided within 60 days of the date the project participant first furnished labor or materials to the project.

However, there are exceptions to these rules that are relatively extensive. Neither the direct nor sub-tier notice is required in any of the following situations:

  1. the project is wholly residential and provides or adds more than 4 family residential units, OR
  2. the project is all or part non-residential (which means if the project is all or part commercial, a notice is not required), OR
  3. where the prime contractor is actually an owner of the property.

These exceptions render the preliminary notice requirement limited to residential projects of 4 or fewer units where the prime is not an owner.

Wisconsin also has an additional requirement, however. A Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien is required by all parties who intend to file a lien. This notice must be delivered at least 30 days prior to filing the lien (he lien deadline is 6 months form the last date of furnishing labor or materials to a project, so the NOI deadline is 5 months from last furnishing).

Preliminary Notice Frequently Asked Questions

If you're sending preliminary notices in Wisconsin, it's important to get all the details right. There are multiple notices tat may be required, and complex rules and requirements surrounding the exceptions to the notices and when and how they must be sent. 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 all be difficult, time consuming, and tedious. Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about the Wisconsin preliminary notice process.

Prelim FAQs on Private Projects

Do I Need to Send a Wisconsin Preliminary Notice?

Wisconsin requires that certain preliminary notices be sent in order to have a valid lien claim. However, these notices depend on project type, the claimant’s tier, and are subject to exceptions. There is nothing that prohibits any party from sending preliminary notices. So to be safe, a preliminary notice may be sent by all parties on all projects.

The questions and answers below will go ingo more detail on the different notices that may be required.

When do I Need to Send a Wisconsin Preliminary Notice?

Prime Contractor Notice: those parties with a direct contract with the property owner (potentially subject to some exclusions) must provide a notice either in the contract or within 10 days of beginning work.

Sub/Supplier Notice: Must be received within 60 days of first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project, and, presumably, at least 30 days prior to filing the lien. The exceptions have almost fully consumed this notice; and now it seems the only project type for which this notice is required is residential construction of between 1 to 4 units.

Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: Required by all parties who plan to file a mechanics lien, and may be filed at any time after the labor and/or materials have been furnished to the project. This notice must be served at least 30 days prior to the filing of the mechanics lien.

Finally, if you’re providing project specs, plans, or blueprints; first furnishing should be based on when those are provided.

What if I Send the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice Late?

Prime Contractor Notice: Failure to give the notice timely is fatal to a later lien claim UNLESS the prime contractor: 1) pays all obligations to suppliers and subcontractors within 6 months of the time they last performed services; 2) the time for subcontractors to provide any preliminary notices has passed and no lien claimant has given such notice (or all the subs and suppliers have waived lien rights).

Sub/Supplier Notice: If given more than 60 days after the first furnishing of labor and/or materials, it only covers labor and/or materials furnished after the property owner receives notice.

Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: Failure to provide this notice timely is fatal to a subsequent lien claim.

How Should the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice be Sent?

Prime Contractor Notice: If not contained within the actual contract, it must be sent by certified or registered mail, personal service, or other method in which the recipient gives written confirmation of delivery. Actual receipt of the notice is essential.

Sub/Supplier Notice: Two copies must be served on the property owner, by the same method as the prime contractor notice above.

Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: One copy must be served on the property owner, by the same method as the two notices above.

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

Prime Contractor Notice: No.

Sub/Supplier Notice: No.

Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: It is not required for a lien claimant to serve any party other than the property owner, but it may be best practice to serve the prime contractor and lender (if known), as well.

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

Prime Contractor Notice: Considered delivered when received.

Sub/Supplier Notice: Considered delivered when sent.

Notice of Intent to File a Claim of Lien: Considered delivered when sent.

Prelim FAQs on Public Projects

Do I Need to Send a Wisconsin Preliminary Notice?

It depends. In Wisconsin, preliminary notice is generally required to preserve a claimant’s right to make a bond claim, unless one of the specific exceptions apply. Parties who are not required to send preliminary notice prior to making a bond claim in Wisconsin are claimant’s whose contract was for less than $5000, claimants who are employees of the general or sub, and claimant’s listed in the contract between the general and the sub.

Preliminary notice is not required from any party prior to making a claim on the contract funds.

When do I Need to Send a Wisconsin Preliminary Notice?

Bond: In Wisconsin, the preliminary notice must be received by the general contractor within 60 days from the claimant’s first furnishing of labor and/or materials to the project.

Contract Funds: N/A

What if I Send the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice Late?

Bond: When required, preliminary notice is mandatory, and the failure to timely provide preliminary notice is fatal to the claim.

Contract Funds: N/A

How Should the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice be Sent?

Bond: The preliminary notice must be served on the general contractor via registered or certified mail, personal service, or other means of delivery in which the recipient gives written confirmation of delivery/receipt. It is not explicitly outlined in the statute, but it appears likely that actual receipt of the preliminary notice is essential to the future claim.

Contract Funds: N/A

To Whom Must the Wisconsin Preliminary Notice be Given?

Bond: In Wisconsin, preliminary notice should be delivered to the general contractor supplying the bond.

Contract Funds: N/A

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Wisconsin Preliminary Notice Form Template

Wisconsin’s 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 information. The forms provided here for free by Levelset are compliant with the Wisconsin rules. You can download them for free, or use our system to send or request them easily.

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