Notice! Notice! Notice! Contractors – Provide Your Proper Notices!
Washington State, and particularly King and Snohomish Counties have grown rapidly in recent years. New construction and remodeling projects are a part of the familiar landscape of the area. Contractors and subcontractors who provide labor, professional services, materials, or equipment to improve real property, however, must navigate through the extensive statutory scheme contained in RCW 60.04 et seq., and sometimes related statutes, in order to properly protect themselves. A contractor or subcontractor who does not understand the details contained in these statutes risks serious adverse consequences such as fines, exposure to damage claims, and even unenforceable lien rights.
Before beginning a project, Contractors and subcontractors should familiarize themselves with the various notice provisions of the statute. Providing proper notices relating to construction projects can fundamentally affect the right to receive payment.
For example, under RCW 60.04.031, many subcontractors have to provide a pre-lien notice to the owner by certified or registered mail, or by personal service. The statute also contains numerous exceptions, such as for those who contract directly with the owner or owner’s agent, laborers who claim a lien solely based upon performing labor, or subcontractors who contract for the improvement of real property directly with the prime contractor, except in certain circumstances. For those who must provide the notice, failure to do so will bar lien enforcement.
General contractors may have to provide a notice to customer under RCW 18.27.114 if the project involves work on: (1) “Four or fewer residential units or accessory structures on such residential property when the bid or contract price totals one thousand dollars or more” or (2) “commercial property with a contract price between $1,000 and $60,000.” Failure to provide this Notice to Customer will result in an unenforceable lien, a possible monetary penalty of $200 to $5,000, and an automatic violation of the Consumer Protection Act, which can result in up to $25,000 in punitive damages, and exposure to a claim of attorney’s fees and costs.
Finally, at the construction jobsite, general contracts must also post a Notice of Construction for any construction project in excess of $5,000. Failure to comply with this provision can subject the contractor to a fine of up to $5,000.
The statute provides for serious consequences in the event of violations, not only for notice provisions, but elsewhere as well. Contractors and subcontractors must familiarize themselves with more than just the notice provisions of the applicable statutes, but at the outset, they should start off on the right foot by providing the proper notices to protect their rights. If you are a contractor or subcontractor who needs assistance with protecting your rights, the attorneys at Beresford Booth, PLLC are available to advise and represent you.