The Texas construction lien laws, commonly referred to as “mechanics’ lien laws”, are not simple or easy for even the average lawyer to understand and follow, much less the typical contractor, subcontractor or supplier. But there are a number of issues and deadlines that must be followed to the letter in order to have a valid and enforceable construction lien.
Why do you need a valid and enforceable construction lien? Because this is quite simply the ultimate hammer that will force the property owner to pay you (or to see that you are paid). All too often, we see cases where a contractor or subcontractor has performed the work as requested, on time and in a workmanlike manner, yet the invoices for the work go unpaid, or only partially paid. The property owner repeatedly makes excuses or promises to pay, but the money isn’t forthcoming.
That's where the construction lien comes in. With a valid and properly perfected lien, the threat of a foreclosure sale of the owner’s property very often brings the results the contractor or subcontractor wants:
YOU GET PAID!
The problem is that the Texas construction lien laws are spread out over several lengthy documents (including the Texas Constitution and the Texas Property Code), as well as the numerous court opinions which interpret these written laws. The laws and interpretations can and do sometimes conflict, and the whole process can be extremely complex (especially for someone who does not deal with these laws on a daily basis). And if you fail to take all the required steps at the times prescribed by the laws, there is a good chance you won’t have a valid, enforceable lien.
NO VALID LIEN = NO FORECLOSURE SALE = NO MONEY FOR YOU!
Sure, you may be able to take the non-paying property owner or contractor to court, and even get a judgment against him for the money he owes you, but without the lien, that judgment may very well be just a piece of paper.
With this in mind, we have prepared a basic outline of the most critical information you should know and required steps you must take in order to obtain a properly perfected lien. Hopefully this information will prevent you from stepping into a trap, and further assist you in identifying at what point you should seek the assistance of a Texas attorney who is well-versed in our construction laws.
What is your relationship to the Project? Your requirements, protections, and remedies differ depending on whether you are a prime or original contractor, a subcontractor, a supplier, a maker of specially fabricated materials or further down the list. So the threshold question for any construction project is what is your connection with the project.