Mechanic’s Liens are a valuable tool used by contractors to help insure that they are fully compensated for the materials they supply and the improvements that they make to buildings or land.  However, if you are a contractor providing materials or making improvements to an “owner-occupied” dwelling, essentially a residential remodeling contractor, then the mechanic’s lien that you file may not be worth much more than the paper that it is printed if you neglect one crucial step.

Under Iowa’s Mechanic’s Lien law, Chapter 572, a contractor who enters into a contract with a home owner to provide labor or  furnish materials for a owner-occupied dwelling and who has or will hire sub-contractors for the job must provide in the written contract with the home owner the following notice:

“Persons or companies furnishing labor of materials for the improvement of real property may enforce a lien upon the improved property if they are not paid for their contributions, even if the parties have no direct contractual relationship with the owner.”

In the alternative a contractor who does not enter into a written contract with the home owner must, within ten (10) days of beginning work on the property, provide the owner with written notice stating the name and address of all subcontractors that the contractor intends to use for the construction and, that the subcontractors or suppliers may have lien rights if they are not compensated for the labor or material that they provided in completion of the project.

If written notice required under Chapter 572 is not provided to the owner in a timely manner then the contractor is only entitled to a lien for the work or materials that it actually performed or the materials that it actually provided and would not be entitled to a lien as it pertained to any labor performed or materials furnished by a subcontractor.