Can Restoration & Remediation Contractors File a Mechanics Lien?


Two contractors install drywall next to an illustration of a mechanics lien

Restoration and remediation contractors offer a exceptional blend of companies. A good deal of what they do is clean up and hazard removal, but several also deliver reconstruction services to get buildings back to the way they have been before the catastrophe. The selection of products and services they offer can develop a lot of confusion close to their proper to file a mechanics lien if they never get paid out.

In an attempt to make items clearer, let’s look at what style of work restoration and remediation contractors can file a lien for — and what sort of do the job is considerably less probable to be secured.

An overview of mechanics lien rights

A mechanics lien is perhaps the most effective software contractors have when it arrives to securing their payment. In most states, the statutes specify that liens are legitimate for perform that presents a “permanent improvement” to the house

Identifying lien legal rights is comparatively simple on new development or a renovation task. The contractors are creating a permanent composition that materially improves the property it sits on. Typically, all of the labor and products that goes into these projects is lienable — that is, the contractor or provider can file a lien to recover the fees if they never get paid out.

What is a “permanent improvement?”

The phrase “permanent improvement” actually is made up of a really sizeable gray space. For example, if your company remediates mildew in a client’s residence, most people today would contemplate that to be a “permanent improvement.” Following all, a household with out mildew is far better than a person with mould.

And demolishing a burned-out property could also be viewed as a long lasting advancement, given that the harmed building is the two an eye-sore and a basic safety hazard. Demolition is important ahead of a new framework can be designed.

Having said that, as we’ll check out in this post, there is lots of disagreement about what constitutes “a everlasting improvement” for the intent of professing a mechanics lien. The legislation change extensively from state to state. Though some states evidently deliver lien legal rights for specific varieties of restoration perform, other states depart it open to interpretation by the courts.

If a contractor tries to foreclose on a lien for do the job that is not lienable, “his circumstance will be dismissed,” claims California lawyer Brion Berkley. So, it is crucial for restoration contractors to know what perform is lienable so they can stay away from expending income on a lien they can not accumulate. 

Lien legal rights count on the type of restoration work

Restoration and remediation contractors commonly offer a assortment of companies, from demolition and cleanup to drywall installation and painting. Depending on where the challenge is located, your do the job may well or may not be safeguarded by the state’s mechanics lien guidelines. To make it even extra sophisticated, some of your work may well be lined, although other function isn’t.

If you are not sure no matter whether you have lien rights on a challenge, seek lawful help. “It is finest to consult with with an legal professional to offer assistance on what parts of your invoice are lienable,” states Utah attorney Chase B. Ames, “and to be certain that you have achieved the statutory conditions ahead of going forward.” 

Notice: Regardless of whether or not you in the long run do have lien legal rights, it’s important to consider each and every action you can to guarantee that you get compensated what you make.


Some restoration and remediation contractors supply initial inspection expert services to decide the structural integrity of a creating and assess the total of get the job done that desires to be completed. In general, simply because inspection function does not permanently increase the house, it is commonly not regarded lienable function.

Similar issue: Can a property inspector file a lien in Florida?

Browse the state’s statutes about lienable operate for far more clarity.


Cleansing up is usually a massive section of a restoration contractor’s perform. They could be hired to deal with a sewage backup, biohazard disposal, graffiti cleanup, or odor removal.

In one case in Utah, the Court of Appeals made a decision that flood mitigation, including water extraction, preserving furniture, drying, cleaning and deodorizing carpets, and implementing a microbial agent to stop mould do not count as long term enhancements. The court determined “physical annexation and actual physical alteration of relative compound and toughness as critical features of lienable operate.”

1 test to establish if your cleaning companies are lienable is how close they appear to a construction challenge. If you are offering closing cleaning soon after a remodel or new design, your companies may possibly be viewed as section of the job and be lienable.

But if you are delivering weekly companies at a constructing with no ongoing building, your likelihood of getting in a position to file a valid lien are greatly diminished.

Not to seem like a broken history right here, but it’s always very best to talk to with an attorney to see if you have lien legal rights. Each individual situation is distinctive.


After a hearth, tornado, or hurricane, numerous restoration contractors stop up demolishing parts of the constructing. This normally occurs when a framework is damaged and new work requirements to be put in, like partitions or flooring. Regardless of whether demolition get the job done is lienable appears to be a make any difference of interpretation of the law. 

Some states precisely involve demolition function in their lien legal guidelines, when some others do not. For example, California’s mechanics lien legal guidelines especially record “demolition or removal of advancements, trees, or other vegetation” as secured do the job.

However, in states that do not incorporate “demolition” in their mechanics lien definitions, courts can be very rigorous in their interpretation of lien laws. In a case in Washington, the Supreme Courtroom dominated that demolishing a making was not lienable except the contract delivered precisely that such a lien could be submitted. A further final decision in Texas stated in the same way that a demolition contractor only had lien legal rights if they ended up specially offered in the contract.

In an Ohio situation, the court docket acknowledged that demolition commonly constitutes lienable operate. But for the reason that the statute omitted it from the description of lienable do the job, the court dominated against a contractor in search of to file a lien for demolition.

Contractors who provide demolition products and services should review state statutes carefully, and check with with a building lawyer before setting up a challenge.

Biohazard & mildew remediation

Mould remediation do the job typically includes elimination, cleansing, and disinfecting of contaminated spots. Contractors use specialized products and solutions to get rid of current mold and reduce new mould from rising. 

This remediation do the job generally falls somewhere between cleansing and demolition operate. It could be regarded as a long-lasting advancement to the property, due to the fact it could induce real hurt if remaining untreated. 

No matter whether or not lien rights are readily available will most likely hinge on the form of function, and whether it is element of a larger development task. And, of study course, it all is dependent on the rights outlined in the condition statute.

Remediation operate is generally diverse than what most statutes look at to be lienable. “Water and mildew remediation is considerably less tangible than other lienable get the job done,” writes development legal professional Matt Viator. “And, ‘removal’ commonly refers to demolition or bodily separation of parts of an improvement – not to h2o or mildew that is taken keep of the property.”

In the same way, biohazard remediation may well be lienable work, relying on the scope of the venture. “A biohazard remediation business would likely be deemed an improvement to the residence giving increase to lien legal rights defense,” states lawyer Nate Budde. “But it is not totally cut and dried, and could nonetheless conceivably rely on the scope of get the job done for a distinct work.”

In advance of using on this variety of do the job it’s finest to look at the statutes in your point out and seek the advice of with a building legal professional.

Asbestos abatement

Asbestos abatement will involve the removing and disposal of resources like asbestos. Contractors often require a special license to manage asbestos, making certain they prevent contamination of the air and defend workers’ respiratory wellness. 

The lienability of asbestos abatement work may perhaps depend on its spot in the general job. A Minnesota court held that abatement was lienable for the reason that it was integral to the demolition of a creating in preparing for a new building remaining produced. The court docket ruled that the abatement perform “bore directly on the design operate due to the fact it was essential in get for the design progress to begin.” 


This is probably the least difficult of all sorts of restoration perform. It may include simply just replacing floors, patching a roof, or sheet rocking all the partitions. While a lot restoration perform includes removal of resources, reconstruction requires addition of new materials. All of the supplies, labor, and equipment utilised for reconstruction would just about certainly be shielded by a state’s mechanics lien rules.

This function is viewed as a permanent improvement to the house and is frequently lienable, identical to other development work.

Licensing & lien legal rights

In addition to navigating lien rights in distinctive states, restoration corporations also want to shell out near interest to state licensing procedures for contractors. This is particularly accurate after a all-natural disaster. Some states have enacted laws exclusively for contractors immediately after a normal catastrophe or unexpected emergency.

Not keeping the suitable license in some states can invalidate your suitable to file a mechanics lien. But your lien legal rights may possibly be the minimum of your anxieties. In some states, carrying out operate with out a license(when just one is needed) is punishable by major fines and jail time.

For example, California publishes a information known as Immediately after a Disaster, Do not Get Ripped off, which claims: “Without a California contractor license, it is illegal and punishable as a felony to perform contracting get the job done in a catastrophe place in which a state of crisis has been declared.” Violators can be fined up to $10,000 or expend up to 16 months in point out prison.

This is one more instance the place it pays to usually get the suitable contractor’s license for the sort of get the job done you are performing.

Notices velocity up payment no matter of lien rights

To sustain your authorized appropriate to file a lien on this type of work, be certain to adhere to the course of action for the condition the undertaking is situated in. Some may need preliminary notices prior to do the job starts and/or notices through the task. 

Sending a preliminary observe is useful, even if it is not expected. Remaining seen to the owner and basic contractor, if there is 1, normally speeds up the payment method. They want to assure that everybody on the venture gets their payment to preserve the residence no cost of liens. 

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When it will come to determining if your function is lienable, a building lawyer is a restoration contractor’s finest close friend. They can teach you on your state’s statutes to ensure that you are preserving your lien legal rights when you have them.


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