Understanding Preliminary Notices in Construction Projects


What is a preliminary notice? It’s a construction notice sent by contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers to notify a property owner of their work on a project. This simple document plays a crucial role in protecting your payment rights in the construction industry.

Imagine working hard on a construction project but struggling to get paid. This is a common issue many contractors face. Preliminary notices help make sure you get the money you’re owed by establishing your right to file a mechanics lien if needed.

Why is this important?

  • Ensures faster payments
  • Boosts visibility of your work
  • Protects your legal right to payment

Preliminary notices are essential in the construction world to keep projects running smoothly and ensuring everyone gets paid for their hard work.

What is a Preliminary Notice?

A preliminary notice is a legal document sent at the start of a construction project to inform the property owner and general contractor that a subcontractor, supplier, or service provider is involved in the project and expects to be paid for their work. This notice is crucial because it protects the sender’s right to file a mechanics lien if they don’t get paid.

Purpose of a Preliminary Notice

The main purpose of a preliminary notice is to inform the owner and general contractor about the involvement of subcontractors, suppliers, or service providers. This notice ensures that all parties are aware of who is working on the project and what they are owed.

Why is this important?

  • Payment Rights: It confirms the right of the sender to be paid for their services or materials.
  • Lien Rights: It establishes the sender’s right to file a mechanics lien if payment is not received.

Property owners and general contractors often appreciate receiving these notices because it helps them keep track of everyone involved in the project and manage payments more efficiently.

When to File a Preliminary Notice

State Requirements and Timing Different states have different rules about when a preliminary notice must be sent. For example, in California, a preliminary notice must be filed within 20 days of providing labor or materials. In Utah, it must be sent within 20 days of starting the work. On the other hand, Texas requires the notice to be sent within four months after project completion.

Deadlines Meeting these deadlines is crucial. Missing the deadline can mean losing the right to file a mechanics lien, which can be a big issue if payment problems arise later.

Project Start and Service Provision It’s best to send a preliminary notice as soon as you start working on the project or delivering materials. This proactive step helps ensure your payment rights are protected from the beginning.

Key Takeaways:

  • Check state-specific rules: Each state has different timing and form requirements.
  • Send early: The earlier you send the notice, the better your chances of protecting your lien rights.
  • Keep records: Always keep a copy of the notice and proof of delivery.

By understanding the importance and timing of preliminary notices, you can better protect your payment rights and avoid disputes down the line.

Steps to File a Preliminary Notice

Filing a preliminary notice is a crucial step in protecting your payment rights in construction projects. Let’s walk through the process and what you need to know.

Information Required

To file a preliminary notice, you’ll need to gather some essential information about your project and the involved parties. Here’s what you should include:

  • Contractor Details: Your business name, address, and contact information.
  • Owner Details: The property owner’s name and contact information.
  • Project Details: The address of the project property, including its legal description if available.
  • Materials and Services: A detailed list of the materials and services you have provided or will provide.
  • Cost Estimate: An approximate cost of the goods and services provided.

Example: If you’re working on a commercial building, you’d list out all the materials like cement, steel beams, and labor costs along with your business details and the property owner’s information.

Delivery Methods

Once you have all the necessary information, the next step is delivering the preliminary notice. The delivery method can vary by state, but here are the most common methods:

  • Certified Mail: This is the most reliable method. Sending your notice via certified mail with a return receipt requested provides proof of delivery. This way, if any conflict arises, you have a record that the notice was indeed delivered.
  • Hand Delivery: Some states allow hand delivery, but it can be harder to prove if a dispute occurs. Always get a signed acknowledgment of receipt if you choose this method.

Example: In California, you might send your preliminary notice via certified mail to the property owner and the general contractor to ensure compliance with state regulations.

Best Practice: Always keep a copy of the notice and proof of delivery, whether it’s a return receipt from certified mail or a signed acknowledgment of hand delivery.

By following these steps and ensuring you have all the correct information and proof of delivery, you can protect your payment rights and avoid potential disputes. Now, let’s move on to the benefits of filing a preliminary notice.

Benefits of Filing a Preliminary Notice

Filing a preliminary notice might seem like just another administrative task, but it brings a multitude of benefits. From speeding up the payment process to safeguarding your lien rights, this simple step can make a big difference in how smoothly your construction project runs. Here’s how:

Speed Up Payment Process

One of the most significant benefits of filing a preliminary notice is that it can speed up the payment process. When you send out this notice, it acts as a formal reminder to the property owner and the general contractor that you expect timely payments.

Statistics show that contractors who send preliminary notices get paid faster. These notices increase visibility, making sure everyone involved knows who is on the job and what payments are due. This transparency can lead to prompt payment because your invoice is prioritized over others who haven’t sent a notice.

Avoid Filing Mechanics Liens

No one wants to get to the point of filing a mechanics lien. They are costly, time-consuming, and can strain relationships. By sending a preliminary notice, you can often avoid filing mechanics liens altogether. The notice serves as a payment reminder, encouraging timely payments and reducing the chances of disputes.

Fact: Once a lien is filed, legal costs can skyrocket. Avoiding these costs by ensuring timely payment through preliminary notices can save thousands of dollars and countless hours.

Safeguard Lien Rights

In many states, filing a preliminary notice is a prerequisite to securing your right to file a mechanics lien. If you miss this step, you might lose your legal recourse for non-payment.

State compliance is crucial. By following the specific requirements for preliminary notices, you ensure that your lien rights are protected. This means if you ever need to file a lien, your claim will stand strong in court.

Pro Tip: Always check your state’s specific requirements for preliminary notices. Missing a deadline or failing to send the notice to the right parties can waive your lien rights.

Promote Professionalism and Communication

Sending a preliminary notice also demonstrates professionalism. It shows that you are organized and serious about your business. This can boost your reputation with property owners and general contractors.

Moreover, preliminary notices help in increasing communication. They keep everyone informed about who is working on the project and what materials and services are being provided. This can help in coordinating schedules and avoiding misunderstandings.

Quote: “A sloppy, disorganized subcontractor is every property owner and general contractor’s worst nightmare.” By being prompt and professional, you can avoid this negative perception.

Avoid Disputes

Finally, preliminary notices can help you avoid disputes. Clear and early communication about your involvement in a project can prevent misunderstandings and potential payment issues. It’s a proactive step that sets the stage for smooth transactions and satisfied clients.

In summary, filing a preliminary notice offers numerous benefits, from speeding up payments to safeguarding your lien rights and promoting professionalism. Now, let’s dive into the specific steps you need to follow to file a preliminary notice correctly.


Preliminary notices are a critical part of any construction project. They ensure that everyone involved knows who is working on the project and what their payment expectations are. This helps to secure payments and avoid disputes.

Using preliminary notices is a professional practice that can set you apart from others in the industry. It shows that you are organized, prepared, and serious about getting paid for your work. When you send out these notices, you are taking a proactive step to protect your rights and your business.

At Texas Easy Lien, we understand the importance of preliminary notices. Our tools and resources make it simple for you to file these notices correctly and on time. This ensures that you are always in compliance with state laws and that your payment rights are protected.

By using Texas Easy Lien, you can avoid the stress and hassle of filing liens. Our system helps you stay organized and on top of deadlines, so you can focus on what you do best—completing your construction projects.

In conclusion, filing preliminary notices is not just a good practice; it’s a necessity for anyone in the construction industry. It safeguards your rights, helps you get paid faster, and demonstrates your professionalism. Trust Texas Easy Lien to help you navigate this process smoothly and efficiently.

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