Can Restoration & Remediation Contractors File a Mechanics Lien?


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

Restoration and remediation contractors give a exceptional mix of products and services. A whole lot of what they do is clean up and hazard removal, but several also give reconstruction products and services to get structures back again to the way they were just before the disaster. The wide range of products and services they supply can produce a whole lot of confusion all around their suitable to file a mechanics lien if they really don’t get compensated.

In an endeavor to make points clearer, let us search at what variety of work restoration and remediation contractors can file a lien for — and what type of function is much less most likely to be shielded.

An overview of mechanics lien legal rights

A mechanics lien is maybe the most effective resource contractors have when it will come to securing their payment. In most states, the statutes specify that liens are legitimate for operate that gives a “permanent improvement” to the house

Figuring out lien legal rights is rather simple on new building or a renovation challenge. The contractors are making a long-lasting construction that materially enhances the house it sits on. Commonly, all of the labor and supplies that goes into these jobs is lienable — that is, the contractor or supplier can file a lien to recover the prices if they really don’t get compensated.

What is a “permanent improvement?”

The term “permanent improvement” basically contains a quite significant gray region. For case in point, if your company remediates mildew in a client’s house, most individuals would contemplate that to be a “permanent improvement.” After all, a dwelling without the need of mold is superior than a person with mould.

And demolishing a burned-out dwelling could also be viewed as a everlasting improvement, because the broken creating is each an eye-sore and a security hazard. Demolition is necessary in advance of a new structure can be crafted.

Nevertheless, as we’ll discover in this post, there is a lot of disagreement about what constitutes “a permanent improvement” for the purpose of professing a mechanics lien. The guidelines fluctuate commonly from state to state. When some states obviously deliver lien legal rights for specific styles of restoration operate, other states go away it open to interpretation by the courts.

If a contractor attempts to foreclose on a lien for get the job done that isn’t lienable, “his scenario will be dismissed,” states California lawyer Brion Berkley. So, it is significant for restoration contractors to know what operate is lienable so they can keep away from expending income on a lien they simply cannot collect. 

Lien rights count on the kind of restoration work

Restoration and remediation contractors normally give a selection of companies, from demolition and cleanup to drywall set up and portray. Dependent on the place the undertaking is situated, your function may well or could not be safeguarded by the state’s mechanics lien procedures. To make it even much more sophisticated, some of your function may perhaps be coated, whilst other get the job done is not.

If you’re not sure regardless of whether you have lien legal rights on a venture, find legal help. “It is very best to talk to with an lawyer to offer tips on what portions of your bill are lienable,” suggests Utah attorney Chase B. Ames, “and to be certain that you have achieved the statutory prerequisites just before transferring ahead.” 

Note: No matter whether or not you in the long run do have lien legal rights, it is crucial to get each and every motion you can to be certain that you get compensated what you make.


Some restoration and remediation contractors deliver first inspection products and services to identify the structural integrity of a developing and assess the volume of function that requirements to be finished. In standard, for the reason that inspection work does not forever improve the home, it is generally not regarded as lienable do the job.

Relevant concern: Can a property inspector file a lien in Florida?

Browse the state’s statutes regarding lienable function for additional clarity.


Cleansing up is typically a massive portion of a restoration contractor’s perform. They may possibly be hired to manage a sewage backup, biohazard disposal, graffiti cleanup, or odor removing.

In a person situation in Utah, the Court docket of Appeals determined that flood mitigation, including drinking water extraction, preserving home furniture, drying, cleansing and deodorizing carpets, and making use of a microbial agent to avoid mildew do not rely as permanent improvements. The court identified “physical annexation and actual physical alteration of relative substance and toughness as critical attributes of lienable work.”

One exam to identify if your cleaning providers are lienable is how close they appear to a design undertaking. If you are offering last cleaning following a remodel or new construction, your expert services may be considered component of the challenge and be lienable.

But if you are furnishing weekly expert services at a making with no ongoing construction, your odds of staying ready to file a legitimate lien are greatly diminished.

Not to seem like a damaged document listed here, but it’s often best to consult with an lawyer to see if you have lien legal rights. Every case is unique.


Following a fireplace, tornado, or hurricane, many restoration contractors conclude up demolishing parts of the building. This typically comes about when a framework is harmed and new perform demands to be set up, like partitions or flooring. No matter whether demolition get the job done is lienable would seem to be a make a difference of interpretation of the legislation. 

Some states especially incorporate demolition operate in their lien rules, although many others don’t. For case in point, California’s mechanics lien regulations specially checklist “demolition or removing of improvements, trees, or other vegetation” as guarded function.

Nonetheless, in states that really don’t include “demolition” in their mechanics lien definitions, courts can be extremely strict in their interpretation of lien guidelines. In a scenario in Washington, the Supreme Court dominated that demolishing a building was not lienable unless the contract supplied specifically that this kind of a lien could be filed. Yet another selection in Texas stated equally that a demolition contractor only experienced lien legal rights if they have been specifically specified in the agreement.

In an Ohio scenario, the courtroom acknowledged that demolition usually constitutes lienable perform. But because the statute omitted it from the description of lienable function, the courtroom ruled towards a contractor in search of to file a lien for demolition.

Contractors who give demolition products and services should really overview condition statutes very carefully, and talk to with a building lawyer before starting a challenge.

Biohazard & mould remediation

Mildew remediation operate commonly includes elimination, cleansing, and disinfecting of contaminated places. Contractors use specialized equipment and procedures to eliminate current mold and protect against new mould from rising. 

This remediation get the job done typically falls somewhere amongst cleansing and demolition operate. It could be regarded a long-lasting improvement to the house, considering that it could cause real problems if remaining untreated. 

Whether or not or not lien legal rights are accessible will probably hinge on the variety of work, and whether it is element of a greater design task. And, of training course, it all relies upon on the rights outlined in the state statute.

Remediation operate is generally diverse than what most statutes take into account to be lienable. “Water and mould remediation is far less tangible than other lienable work,” writes construction lawyer Matt Viator. “And, ‘removal’ ordinarily refers to demolition or bodily separation of parts of an advancement – not to drinking water or mould that’s taken hold of the residence.”

In the same way, biohazard remediation may perhaps be lienable function, dependent on the scope of the challenge. “A biohazard remediation enterprise would very likely be thought of an advancement to the house providing increase to lien rights protection,” says lawyer Nate Budde. “But it is not totally reduce and dried, and could nevertheless conceivably rely on the scope of do the job for a individual work.”

Before using on this type of perform it is best to check out the statutes in your state and seek the advice of with a building attorney.

Asbestos abatement

Asbestos abatement consists of the removal and disposal of supplies including asbestos. Contractors typically will need a unique license to handle asbestos, ensuring they avoid contamination of the air and secure workers’ respiratory health. 

The lienability of asbestos abatement get the job done may depend on its place in the general job. A Minnesota court docket held that abatement was lienable simply because it was integral to the demolition of a making in planning for a new making getting made. The court ruled that the abatement perform “bore instantly on the design function simply because it was needed in order for the development development to start.” 


This is likely the easiest of all types of restoration perform. It may well require only replacing flooring, patching a roof, or sheet rocking all the walls. While a lot restoration get the job done includes removal of components, reconstruction involves addition of new elements. All of the supplies, labor, and gear used for reconstruction would nearly undoubtedly be safeguarded by a state’s mechanics lien rules.

This perform is noticed as a long-lasting advancement to the assets and is normally lienable, very similar to other design get the job done.

Licensing & lien legal rights

In addition to navigating lien legal rights in unique states, restoration firms also have to have to spend close awareness to condition licensing procedures for contractors. This is primarily genuine following a purely natural catastrophe. Some states have enacted laws precisely for contractors right after a all-natural disaster or emergency.

Not holding the appropriate license in some states can invalidate your right to file a mechanics lien. But your lien rights may be the least of your concerns. In some states, performing perform without a license(when 1 is necessary) is punishable by really serious fines and jail time.

For illustration, California publishes a guideline identified as Soon after a Disaster, Really do not Get Scammed, which claims: “Without a California contractor license, it is illegal and punishable as a felony to complete contracting work in a catastrophe region the place a point out of unexpected emergency has been declared.” Violators can be fined up to $10,000 or expend up to 16 months in point out prison.

This is a further instance wherever it pays to generally get the correct contractor’s license for the sort of perform you are carrying out.

Notices pace up payment no matter of lien rights

To maintain your authorized correct to file a lien on this style of do the job, be certain to adhere to the system for the state the project is positioned in. Some could call for preliminary notices before perform begins and/or notices all over the job. 

Sending a preliminary recognize is helpful, even if it is not needed. Remaining obvious to the proprietor and common contractor, if there is just one, normally speeds up the payment procedure. They want to make sure that every person on the project gets their payment to hold the home totally free of liens. 

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When it arrives to identifying if your get the job done is lienable, a building legal professional is a restoration contractor’s ideal pal. They can teach you on your state’s statutes to make sure that you are safeguarding your lien rights when you have them.


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