Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Winter 2014, Volume 20, Issue 4

Construction Project Notice, Claim & Lawsuit Deadlines

By Bernard S. Kamine

Bernard Kamine has helped owners, contractors, suppliers and sureties avoid and resolve construction project disputes for almost 40 years. His practice runs the gamut from drafting construction contracts, meeting project specifying, bidding and labor requirements, interpreting contracts and litigating contract (not tort) claims, including statutory mechanics lien, stop payment notice and bond claims. This article started out many years ago as his personal checklist of construction project legal deadlines. He is delighted to be able to share it with the rest of the small firm lawyers in California.

Construction activity is so important to California’s economy that the state constitution assures payment to contractors and suppliers for their contributions to real property. (Cal. Const. Art XIV, § 30.) However, the details are left to the Legislature. That has resulted in a continual tug-of-war among owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and lenders, who keep twisting the mechanics lien laws. Those statutes continually become more and more complex. Today, they have numerous and confusing time limits for various actions required of contractors. The penalty for missing one of those deadlines could be severe: A contractor’s right to pursue a mechanics lien, stop payment notice, or bond claim could be completely lost.

Effective July 1, 2012, a wholesale rewrite of the mechanics lien laws went into effect. In addition to other changes, the revision altered the sequence and numbering of statutory provisions. It also substituted new terminology for words and phrases that had been employed for years.

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