Mechanic's Liens: Name Names

Probably the greatest struggle in preparing a mechanic's lien claim is getting the players straight. Under Colorado law, a notice of intent to file a mechanic's lien must be served on the owner and general contractor at least 10 days before the lien statement is filed for public record.

Lien claimants frequently have difficulty in identifying the right parties -particularly when their records are incomplete and they are up against filing date deadlines. The risk involved was highlighted by a recent Colorado Court of Appeals decision which ruled a mechanic's lien claim invalid because the true owner had not been named. Moore Electric Co. v. Ambassador Builder Corp., 653 P.2d 90 (Colo. App. 1982).

My solution is that every job should have a "project information sheet" prepared at the very beginning. That sheet would identify the project name, owner, general contractor and other information which would be necessary for preparing and processing the necessary documents if a mechanic's lien becomes necessary. The legal description and address of the project and other needed information for lien purposes.

The information is generally available from a number of sources. customer or client is the best source, but he may be very reluctant to give out a great deal of information when he is threatened with a mechanic's lien. At the commencement of the relationship, however, he will undoubtedly be very cooperative when asked to furnish project information necessary for your records.

Otherwise, building department records usually include the legal description as well as the names of the owner and general contractor. Owner information may also be obtained from public records, title companies and the county assessor or treasurer's office if the address is available. That county office may also have an abbreviated legal description available which, when supplemented by the project address, is usually sufficient for the lien statements.

The cost of maintaining specific project information in case a mechanic's lien claim becomes necessary is usually justified when compared to the risk of losing a lien claim because of the inability to find the owner's name at the last minute.

Prudence may cost pennies but save dollars!