For any owner or developer of a private construction project—and especially those looking to refinance or sell the property—lien claims can pose serious challenges as well as being a source of great frustration. In my latest column for the Daily Journal of Commerce, I outline some legal options for a Washington construction project owner
In its March 11, 2021 opinion, Division Three of the Washington Court of Appeals considered whether the 90-day period to record a claim of lien is extended by a contractor performing work after substantial completion to correct nonconforming work – usually referred to as “warranty work.” In the case of Brashear Electric, Inc. v. Norcal Properties, LLC, the Court strictly construed the statutory term “repairing” to exclude the contractor’s correction of its own work and rejected the notion that warranty work extended the 90-day timeframe to file a lien claim.
Norcal Properties, LLC (“Norcal”) and Blue Bridge Properties, LLC (“Blue”) own adjacent properties. Norcal and Blue separately contracted with Vandervert Construction (“Vandervert”) to construct a building on each property. The prime agreements’ substantive provisions were identical. Vandervert subcontracted with Brashear Electric, Inc. (“Brashear”) to work on both projects.
Under the prime agreements, Vandervert promised to correct nonconforming work up to a year after substantial completion. Vandervert’s subcontracts with Brashear required Brashear to assume the prime agreements’ warranty provisions.
Among the many effects on the U.S. economy of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction projects that started before it began but were halted in its aftermath may be slow to resume or be abandoned altogether thanks to funding issues. Contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers feel immense pressure to protect and preserve their rights to payment for work…
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 Statement Notice to Customer (“Disclosure Statement”) prior to commencing work.
The form of this document and additional information required of a contractor can be found on the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (“L&I”) website. The Disclosure Statement advises the contractor’s customer (upfront in the contract documents usually, and prior to the commencement of work) of his/her rights and responsibilities, discloses the contractor’s registration and bonding requirements, and warns the customer of the contractor’s right to file a lien claim in the event of nonpayment.