Lien On: Elements of a Lien
Those involved in the construction industry know that there are specific requirements for the filing of a mechanic’s lien. One involves time; another the amount. Both were addressed in a recent case pitting a builder against the purchaser of one of his homes. The buyer signed a contract for $246,700; however, when the base price increased, the builder whited out the old price and inserted a higher sales price. While he claimed the buyer had agreed to the new price, the builder had unfortunately failed to obtain the buyer’s signature or initials on the change. So when during construction the buyer realized there was a $10,000 increase in the price, she ceased making payments. Construction stopped and the builder filed a claim of lien for the balance still due him on the house. Two months later the builder amended his lien to include additional work he performed to protect the partially built house from the elements. The buyer claimed the lien was filed late and for exaggerated amounts, but the court sided with the builder. It found that the additional things done by the builder were in fact contemplated by the contract. The court also determined that this subsequent work extended the time for filing a lien. Work done to secure the partially constructed home was done in good faith, within a reasonable time and pursuant to a contract. It was not remedial work (which wouldn’t extend the statutory deadlines for the filing of a lien) but rather work necessary to complete the contract. Likewise, the amounts spent to prevent damage to work already done would be considered as work contemplated by the contract and would be allowable in any calculation of the lien amount. A good day for the builder whose lien was found to be fully enforceable.