As we settled yet another construction case on the courthouse steps today, I began to think about what I should post to begin 2009. Of course, given the construction industry slowdown that is predicted, and the trend at construction projects around the Commonwealth of Virginia that looks to me as if payments will be harder to come by from Owners less willing, for financial reasons, to work with contractors, mechanic’s liens will be more useful, and necessary, now than ever.
Virginia mechanic’s liens are unusually strong because your memorandum of lien takes priority over all prior liens on the property that you have improved (including from the bank that is financing the project) except in very limited circumstances. What this means is that, should you properly file and sue to enforce your lien, you get to foreclose and have first crack at any money. By contrast, a judgment lien takes priority only over liens filed after the lien is recorded.