Category: Construction Liens

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WSBA Construction Section Annual Seminar – June 9, 2017

On June 9, 2017, my colleague, Karl Oles, and I (both from the Seattle office of Stoel Rives) will present at the annual meeting and seminar for WSBA’s Construction Section, which this year is entitled Washington Statutes Affecting Construction.  This seminar, located at the WSBA Conference Center in Seattle, will feature in-depth discussions regarding important … Continue Reading

Calling All Owners and Contractors! Pay Attention to Disclosure Statement Requirement to Protect Against or Preserve Lien Claims in Washington

Lurking in the depths of the Contractor Registration Act (Chapter 18.27 RCW) is an important statute that has the potential to eviscerate lien rights if not satisfied by contractors furnishing improvements on certain projects in Washington. RCW 18.27.114 requires that contractors working on residential projects or commercial projects of limited scope furnish a Model Disclosure … Continue Reading

Joint Washington/Oregon Construction Law Seminar – November 4, 2016

On November 4, 2016, my colleague, Andrew Gibson (from the Portland office of Stoel Rives), and I will co-chair a joint OSBA/WSBA construction law CLE, entitled Two States of Construction Law: Working in Both Washington and Oregon, located at the Heathman Lodge in Vancouver, Washington. This seminar will include a panel of knowledgeable lawyers with … Continue Reading

Yes, Contractor Licensing May Be Required Under California Law Even if the Contractor Does Not Physically Build Anything Itself

It seems that almost weekly, and certainly monthly, I receive a call or inquiry from colleagues and/or prospective clients as to whether a license is really required if the prospective “contractor” is not actually building anything but is merely facilitating a “deal” or is hiring otherwise qualified and licensed contractors and trades. Virtually every time … Continue Reading

Contractor Beware When Working With Developers to Assure Mechanic’s Lien Rights

Interpreting Utah’s former mechanic’s lien statute, the Utah Court of Appeals has held that a contractor that contracted with and provided construction services for a developer could not maintain a valid mechanic’s lien on property owned by a third-party landowner. In Reeve & Associates, Inc. v. Tanner, 2015 UT App 166 (2015), the owners of … Continue Reading

Key Aspects of Joint Check Agreements

Joint checks are a useful tool in the construction industry to give owners and prime contractors peace of mind that lower-tier subcontractors or suppliers are being paid and potential lien claims are avoided.  But joint check agreements and the subsequent actions can result in unintended consequences and liability. In my recent article for the Daily … Continue Reading

Contract Conflict Bears a Cautionary Tale

In the haste to get design and construction moving on real estate projects, one may lose sight of important lien priority issues when negotiating and executing contracts. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I discuss a notable Washington appellate case that addresses a lien priority issue in the context of multiple … Continue Reading

Finishing Strong vs. Finishing Wrong: Tips & Traps for Project Completion

Complex construction projects carry complex problems as they approach completion. In my recent article for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I address 10 potential pitfalls that owners, contractors and design professionals may encounter, and I offer tips to help you prepare for them. Read the full article here. “Finishing Strong vs. Finishing Wrong: Tips & … Continue Reading

Lien Rights of Employee Benefit Plans Clarified in Washington

A question left open in Stoel Rives’ recent Washington lien law treatise relates to the lien rights of employee benefit plans. The rights granted in RCW 60.04.011(4) (where benefit plans are included in the definition of “furnishing labor”) were called into question by two Washington Supreme Court decisions barring employee benefit plans from pursuing lien-like … Continue Reading

Lien Rights of Architects and Engineers

In my latest Daily Journal of Commerce Construction column, I discuss the construction lien rights for architects and engineers in Washington and Oregon.  In these states, once construction lien rights have arisen the law requires further acts (such as sending notices to the project owner or recording formal notices within specific time frames) to keep … Continue Reading

Announcing a New Washington Lien Law Treatise

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new Stoel Rives Washington state lien law treatise. Written by construction law attorneys Karl Oles and Bart Reed, the treatise builds on two earlier works: Professor Brian A. Blum’s Mechanics’ and Construction Liens in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, and Michael F. Keyes Construction Lien Practice and … Continue Reading

Idaho Verifies That Priority Position Remains Relevant After Bond Posting

In a case of first impression in Idaho, the Supreme Court in American Bank v. Wadsworth Golf Construction Co. of Southwest, No. 39415 (Idaho Aug. 16, 2013) (slip op.), determined that priority of lien filings on a property remain subject to a lien priority analysis even after a statutory lien release bond is filed to … Continue Reading

Should Design Professionals in Washington File a Pre-Claim Notice to Protect Lien Rights? Yes!

Washington’s lien laws, like those of other states, set forth pre-claim notice requirements that, if not satisfied, may result in the forfeiture of lien rights. The applicable statute, RCW 60.04.031, presents an interesting array of “if-then” scenarios in which the notice requirements are imposed. Generally, unless falling under one of three exempted categories, RCW 60.04.031 … Continue Reading

Nevada Lenders Beware! Mechanic’s Liens Not Easily Avoided

Following the market crash in 2008-09, the $2.8 billion Fontainebleau development in Las Vegas was halted with 70 percent of the construction completed. Naturally, numerous mechanic’s liens were filed by contractors, subcontractors, professionals and suppliers ("claimants"). In the bankruptcy proceeding, the lenders asserted novel and potentially legally destabilizing theories against the claimants’ rights: a.) the … Continue Reading

Starting a New Project? Don’t Forget to Send a Notice of Right to a Lien to Trust Deed Holders and Mortgagees

Under Oregon law, a construction lien generally has priority over a trust deed or mortgage on an improvement.  ORS 87.025(1).  If a construction lien claimant has priority over a trust deed or mortgage, the construction lien claimant will get paid from the proceeds of a foreclosure sale before the trust deed holder or mortgagee.  Having … Continue Reading

Washington Supreme Court Reverses Williams

In Williams v. Athletic Field, Inc., 155 Wn. App. 434 (2010), the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that a lien filing was invalid because it was not properly acknowledged. This decision created a stir among Washington construction lawyers, because the lien claimant had used a lien filing service which in turn had used a form … Continue Reading

But I already paid for that! So you have a mechanic’s lien; now what? (Part 2)

Four Practical Points for Avoiding and Responding to Construction Liens Step 1: Who’s healthy in 2010? Within the bounds of the Fair Credit and Reporting Act and any state obligations, it is imperative for both owners and general contractors to understand the financial fortitude of the parties doing the work. If you don’t obtain the … Continue Reading

But I already paid for that! So you have a mechanic’s lien; now what? (Part 1)

Your project is coming along fine, despite the economy. You’ve weathered the squalls of bids, design changes, agency approval, and credit (mercifully), and now even construction completion is looking good. You can see the finish line through the haze on the horizon, and you’re fairly pleased with how you have pulled everything together with what … Continue Reading

WA Supreme Court Confirms Right to Claim Liens over Improvements on Public Property

It is well known that public property is not lienable in most states, including Washington. However, it has been generally assumed that under Washington’s mechanic’s lien statute (RCW 60.04), improvements constructed on public property are lienable. In Estate of Haselwood v. Bremerton Ice Arena, Inc., No. 80411-7 (June 25, 2009) the Supreme Court of Washington, … Continue Reading

Owner/Developer Insolvencies and the Risks to Contractors

Developer insolvencies are unfortunately becoming more and more common in our current economic climate and often result in partially completed projects being stopped. The consequences to contractors can be significant. A number of recent resort projects illustrate what the contractors and subs can typically expect. First, the obvious, immediate problem is nonpayment, which in turn requires the … Continue Reading

Common Lien Mistakes

While the technical requirements for preparing and filing liens offer countless opportunities for mistakes, two in particular seem to predominate. The first is the failure to properly calculate the 75-day period for filing the lien. The 75-day period begins to run from the earlier of (i) the day the contractor or supplier ceased to provide labor or … Continue Reading
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