Whenever you provide materials and/or labor for a construction project, whether as the original contractor or as a subcontractor, you expect to receive payment for your materials and services. The State Bar of Texas advises that both the Texas Constitution and the Texas Property Code protect your rights by making provision for mechanic’s liens that you can place on the property owner’s property if (s)he fails to pay you.
Keep in mind that both the constitutional and statutory mechanic’s lien provisions can be difficult to understand. You may well wish to consult with a knowledgeable real estate attorney to help you preserve your rights.
You will need to meet mandatory deadlines in order to preserve your mechanic’s lien rights. These deadlines, especially those of notice, begin almost immediately. For instance, you must send a Notice for Contractual Retainage to everyone above you in the contract chain, including the property owner, within 30 days of the retainage contract’s completion or termination. If your contract duties include providing specially fabricated materials for the project, you must also send a Notice for Specially Fabricated Items to everyone above you in the contract chain, including the property owner, by the 15th day of the second month after you deliver those materials.
If you are a subcontractor, you will need to send a Notice to Original Contractor of Unpaid Account within 15 days of the second month for each and every month in which you remain unpaid. You will also need to send a Notice to Owner of Unpaid Accounts within 15 days of the third month for each and every month in which you remain unpaid.
You must then file (record) an Affidavit of Mechanic’s Lien in the real property records department of your county’s County Clerk’s Office. If you are a subcontractor, this filing must occur within 30 days of the time you completed your portion of the work. If you are the original contractor, you have two choices. You must file by the 15th day of the fourth month after the contract’s completion or, if this was a residential project, by the 15th day of the third month after the contract’s completion, termination, abandonment, etc. Ultimately, you will need to file a suit to foreclose on your mechanic’s lien within four years of the time you provided the materials and/or labor.