Sage Advice US

Time is of the essence when it comes to construction liens

When a Florida electrical contractor wasn’t paid, the company filed a claim of lien 95 days after it had last worked on the job site. The contractor believed that since it had gone back on day 94 to tackle some final punch list items the time frame for its filing would be extended. The Florida court disagreed.

Time periods associated with the lien process differ by state but are usually strictly interpreted by most local courts. In Florida, for example, contractors must file a claim of lien within 90 days of last doing work. Corrective work, such as a punch list, is not consider last work.

A lien is an important device to secure payment and increase a contractor’s leverage for getting paid. But it is imperative that you comply with very specific time frames to assert your lien rights. Missing a deadline by just one day could render your lien unenforceable. Let’s take a look at four specific deadlines associated with most, but not every, construction lien:

Exercising your lien rights is often your last resort. But it’s important to be prepared in case you need to enforce a lien to protect your interests. Lien laws are complex and vary depending on the state the construction work is performed. To understand time restrictions and other lien requirements, it’s best to contact a local construction lawyer.

Alexander Barthet is a board certified construction attorney in Florida and holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He manages The Barthet Firm, a nine lawyer construction law firm in Miami, and maintains a construction law blog at He can be reached at 305-347-5295 or