One way contractors lose their right to legal fees in a lien foreclosure

Construction contractors in Washington have a right few other creditors receive:  you can record a lien against the improved property and receive payment for not only your services and materials provided, but also for the legal fees and costs necessary to foreclose the lien.  Hiring a lawyer experienced in contractor lien foreclosure lawsuits can help make sure you get paid for both your work and your legal fees and costs.

“Except as provided in RCW 60.04.031, any person furnishing labor, professional services, materials, or equipment for the improvement of real property shall have a lien upon the improvement for the contract price of labor, professional services, materials, or equipment furnished at the instance of the owner, or the agent or construction agent of the owner.”  RCW § 60.04.021.

Because filing a contractor’s lien seems a relatively simple matter, many contractors take this on by themselves without legal help.  That can be a costly error.  One small and common mistake can easily cost you your right to receive legal fees and costs as part of your lien foreclosure judgment.  As in much of the construction lien foreclosure statutes, the key is timely notice:

“The lien claimant shall give a copy of the claim of lien to the owner or reputed owner by mailing it by certified or registered mail or by personal service within fourteen days of the time the claim of lien is filed for recording. Failure to do so results in a forfeiture of any right the claimant may have to attorneys’ fees and costs against the owner under RCW 60.04.181.”  RCW § 60.04.091.

If you are a contractor who has not been paid for your work or materials, contact us to set up an appointment and discuss what we can do for you.  This article points out just one of the many pitfalls within the contractor lien statute, but with early guidance and a bit of experience can all be navigated so this powerful law can help make sure you get paid for your hard work.


None of the information on this web site is legal advice, and you are not a client of Ahrend Albrecht unless you have a written fee agreement. Descriptions of results obtained are accurate, but are not meant as a promise or guarantee of results in any particular case, because there can be no such guarantee. Litigation always involves risk.