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Construction glossary

What is a Pre-Lien Notice?

A pre-lien notice, also known as a preliminary notice, is a legal document used in the construction industry to secure payment rights for subcontractors, material suppliers, and other parties involved in the construction project. It is a crucial step in securing the right to payment and can, therefore, directly impact subcontractor cash flows.

The purpose of a pre-lien notice is to inform the property owner, general contractor (GC), and other relevant parties that a subcontractor or supplier has provided labor, materials, or services to the project. By submitting a pre-lien notice, the subcontractor establishes their right to file a mechanic's lien if they are not paid for their work.

The steps to secure payment through the pre-lien notice process are as follows:

  1. Pre-lien (preliminary) notice: This notice should be submitted at the start of every project, typically within a specified time frame after the subcontractor begins work or delivers materials. It serves as a formal notification of the subcontractor's involvement and their intent to protect their right to payment.
  2. Notice of intent (NOI): If the subcontractor is not paid for their work after submitting the pre-lien notice, they can issue a notice of intent (NOI) to the property owner, general contractor, and other parties involved. The NOI is the final warning before filing a mechanic's lien, indicating that the subcontractor intends to take legal action to secure payment if the outstanding balance remains unpaid.
  3. Mechanic's lien: If the subcontractor still does not receive payment after issuing the NOI, they can file a mechanic's lien against the property. A mechanic's lien is a legal claim that encumbers the property, preventing the owner from selling or refinancing until the debt is resolved. This action is typically a last resort to recover unpaid balances. (Check out this blog post to better understand how mechanic’s liens work.)

Siteline—the only billing software built specifically for subcontractors—centralizes and tracks billing statuses across all projects. It provides real-time notifications when payments become overdue, empowering accounting teams to take an active role in collections—like, issuing an NOI (the next step after submitting a pre-lein notice)—to promptly recover payments.

Interested in seeing how Siteline can give you more visibility into your cash flow? Schedule your personalized demo here.