Legal Question in Construction Law in California

Design Proffesional Mechanics Lien

We received a Lien Notice on our property for civil engineering work that was never completed. Work stopped after a very bad presentation by the engineer/s not being able to describe to us in a meeting his ideas for modification to our structure. We received at the meeting some ''preliminary grading plans and a promise to refine the project further. However soon after the meeting the first bill came and we pretty much laughed it off at the time. All worked, stopped, communication stopped and we received no further bills from the principal architect. That was November 2005. January 13th 2009 a lien was filed on our home for services rendered $4000 plus 15% interest.

Does the architect have any legal standing here. its been 3 + years. The only work done on our home was also complete two years ago nothing even close to the grading rough grading plans given to us by the principal.

Asked on 1/16/09, 11:50 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

James Roberts Roberts & Elliott LLP

Re: Design Proffesional Mechanics Lien

An attorney can petition to expunge the lien.

[1} A design professional has a lien on real property for which a work of improvement is planned to be constructed, notwithstanding the absence of commencement of actual construction of the planned work of improvement, if the landowner contracted for the design professional's services and is also the owner of the real property at the time of recordation of the lien [Civ. Code 3081.2]. The lien is not applicable, however, to a work of improvement relating to a single-family owner-occupied residence when the construction costs are less than $100,000 [Civ. Code 3081.10].

[2] Procedure for Obtaining Lien

[a] Demand for Payment. A design professional is entitled to a lien only if the landowner defaults in a payment required pursuant to the terms of the written contract or refuses to pay on the demand of the design professional made in accordance with the written contract [Civ. Code 3081.3(a)]. Then, at least 10 days prior to recording a notice of lien (discussed under [b], below), the design professional must mail by first-class registered or certified mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the landowner, a written demand for payment specifying that a default has occurred pursuant to the contract or agreement and the amount of the default [Civ. Code 3081.3(b)].

[b] Recording Notice of Lien. No later than 90 days after the design professional knows or has reason to know that the landowner is not commencing the work of improvement, he or she must record a notice of lien with the county recorder in the county where the property is located. [Civ. Code 3081.3(c), 3081.7]. The notice must specify that a lien is created in favor of the named design professional, specify the amount of the lien, identify the current owner of record of the real property, provide a legal description of the real property to be improved, and specify the building permit or other governmental approval for the work of improvement required as a condition of the lien [Civ. Code 3081.3(c).

[4] Automatic Expiration. A design professionals' lien automatically expires and is null, void, and of no further force or effect on the occurrence of either of the following [Civ. Code 3081.4(b)]: Commencement of the work of improvement for which the design professional furnished services at the request of the landowner; or Expiration of 90 days after recordation of the notice of lien, unless a suit is filed to enforce the lien within 90 days.

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Answered on 1/19/09, 12:38 pm

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