Show Nav

Prime Contractor Lien Guidelines for Wisconsin Residential Small Projects (“Private Small Projects”)

Under Wisconsin construction lien law, if you are a Prime Contractor working on a “private small project”, there are several things to do to perfect your construction lien rights. For purposes of this discussion, a private small project is a residential, non-public project involving four family living units or less.  Different rules apply to other types of projects, such as commercial or bonded projects.

If you will be using subcontractors, suppliers, or service providers, you first need to provide a “10 day notice”, either in the written contract with the owner or, if there is no written contract, by serving the owner with the notice personally or by registered mail.  This must be served within 10 days after the first labor, materials, or services are furnished by the subcontractors, suppliers, or service providers.

However, if you (the prime contractor) are doing all the work yourself, you do not need to provide a 10 day notice.

The next deadline is that the notice of intent to file a lien claim must be made within 5 months from the day the last labor, materials, or services were provided.

Here is an outline of the procedure to follow to perfect a lien as a Prime Contractor on a Private Small Project

  • Send a 10-day notice to the owner.  This must be done within 10 days after the first labor or materials are furnished if contract is oral, or include in written contract (if using subcontractors, suppliers, or service providers). Wis. Stat. § 779.02(2).
  • Send or deliver a 30-day notice of intent to file a lien claim to the owner. 
    • This must be done within five months from the day the last labor, materials, or services were provided.  Wis. Stat. § 779.06(2), and
    • This must be done 30 days before the actual filing of a lien claim.
  • File a claim for lien with the clerk of circuit courts in the county where the labor and service materials were provided.  This must be done six months from the date the lien claimant furnished the last labor, materials, or services.  Wis. Stat. § 779.06(1), (3).
  • Serve a copy of the claim for lien on owner within 30 days of filing.  Wis. Stat. § 779.06(1).
  • File a summons and complaint within two years from the date of filing a claim for lien with the clerk of circuit courts in the county where the labor and service materials were provided. Wis. Stat. § 779.06(1).

For a summary of the procedure for claiming a construction lien under Wisconsin law for a prime contractor that is giving notice after substantial work has already been performed on a private, unbonded, commercial project, see our post at https://www.boardmanclark.com/publications/business-minute/contractors-what-are-your-legal-rights

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general informational purposes only. This post is not updated to account for changes in the law and should not be considered tax or legal advice. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

More from Business Minute

*bc*