By Vickie Sharples, RCS Partner.
Understanding the purpose of a preliminary notice.
Preliminary notices are referred to by many different names: notice to owner, notice to owner of right to lien, materialman’s notice, 20-day preliminary notice, pre lien notice. Regardless of the name, the purpose is the same, and that is to alert you, the property owner, that a roofing supplier is furnishing the materials for your job and the materials aren’t paid for yet.
This “alert” is often the first required step that a subcontractor or supplier must take in order to maintain his/her right to file a lien claim. This is not a lien though. In some states, it is the law that a preliminary notice is mailed to you. Consult this website to find out if preliminary notices are required in your state. If the contractor doesn’t pay the supplier, they can file a lien against your house. It isn’t a bad thing, it’s a good thing. And it isn’t a reflection of your contractor, it’s the law.
If you know in advance that the contractor hasn’t paid for the materials on your roof you can now make sure that bill gets paid with the balance of the money you owe the contractor. Ask your contractor for a “Lien Release” before you pay the balance. Remember, you should only pay 10% down for the job. If the contractor is tight on money, he or she needs to put your roofing material on their credit account, that is how business is done.
If your contractor doesn’t have the credit or cash flow to get the materials to your roof, do not pay for the materials up front. Don’t give your contractor the money before the work has been performed to your satisfaction because that’s how people can get taken advantage of and become a statistic. Perhaps with careful evaluation you can pay the supplier directly for the materials, but I wouldn’t advise it.