Anyone engaged in a construction project should be familiar with what a materialmens’ lien is. A materialmens’ lien, sometimes referred to as a supplier’s lien or mechanic’s lien, is an important protection for subcontractors and materials suppliers on a construction project. It provides for a lien to be placed on the property if the subcontractor or materials’ supplier is not paid by the general contractor.

While a materialmens’ lien is an important protection for subcontractors and suppliers, it is also important for property owners to be familiar with. Even if the property owner paid the general contractor, if the general contractor fails to pay the subcontractor who performed the work or the supplier who supplied the materials, the property owner may be forced to pay twice or even sell the property. As a result, anyone engaged in a construction project should be familiar with materialmens’ liens and how to prevent them.

The process typically involves notice from the subcontractor or supplier as to the service or materials being provided. If the subcontractor or materials supplier goes unpaid, they can file a materialmens’ lien on the property. The subcontractor or materials supplier then usually has two to six months to work out a solution or may bring a claim against the property owner. Options to potentially avoid a materialmens’ lien can include using joint checks, obtaining lien waivers or for the property owner to pay subcontractors or materials suppliers directly themselves. Because laws can vary by state, it is important to be familiar with the laws in the state where the construction project is being built.

Construction project include many parties and many moving parts which is why anyone engaged in a construction project should be as familiar as possible with the complexities and different facets of the construction project. Armed with that knowledge, they can help protect themselves and ensure a successful project.