In the California building and construction industry, service of a “Preliminary Notice” is a prerequisite for Subcontractor and Supplier claims for payment through the Mechanics Lien, Stop Payment Notice and Payment Bond Claim process. Without proper drafting and service of a Preliminary Notice, these extremely valuable claims cannot be protected. Unfortunately, despite the vital importance of the Preliminary Notice, Subcontractors and Suppliers often make common self-defeating mistakes that make their Preliminary Notice efforts completely ineffective, resulting in loss of their claims rights. The purpose of this article is to list some of these common mistakes in the hope that the reader will avoid such mistakes, preserve the integrity of the Preliminary Notice, and protect the claims rights it makes available:
Not Sending out the Preliminary Notice Within 20 Days After Supplying Labor or Materials:
The protection of a Preliminary Notice begins 20 days before it sent out. This means that if a Subcontractor or Supplier claimant delivered $100,000 in materials on February 1, that same claimant must serve the Preliminary Notice on or before February 21 (the sooner the better), or the claimant will not be able to pursue an enforceable Mechanics Lien, Stop Payment Notice or Payment Bond claim for that $100,000. There are very few exceptions. Best practice: A Subcontractor or Supplier must send out the Preliminary Notice as soon as an agreement to provide work or materials to a California construction project is in place (See California Civil Code 8204).