Oct 28, 2019

Failing To Check The Pennsylvania Construction Notices Directory Can Have Ghoulish Consequences For Subcontractors And Suppliers

Since 2017, PA Act 142 has required the state to maintain its online Construction Notices Directory at www.scnd.pa.gov. Since the directory went live, owners and general contractors have the option to add any private project whose total value exceeds $1.5 Million to the database by filing a “notice of commencement.” Once a job is added, the owner and general contractor are required to notify any subcontractor or supplier who provides labor or materials to a project that the directory is being used by (1) posting notice at the jobsite, (2) inserting warning language in every subcontract, and (3) making the “notice of commencement” form a part of all subcontracts awarded for the work. By placing subcontractors and suppliers on proper notice that the project is searchable under the online directory, the owner and general contractor are also assuring that if anyone supplying labor or material wishes to preserve its right to potentially file a mechanics’ lien claim in the future, it must also file a “notice of furnishing” to the same website. The “notice of furnishing” must be filed no more than 45 days after a sub or supplier provides labor or material to the job, or it will be precluded from filing a mechanics’ lien claim if payments are withheld in the future.

The only fee for the database is paid by the owner when the job is initially listed, and there is no fee for subcontractors and suppliers posting notices of furnishing. If you’re a project owner, the directory is designed to manage and limit your exposure to lien claims. If you’re supplying labor or materials to a searchable project and you don’t take part in this new directory, you risk losing your mechanics’ lien rights – and lien rights can be your best opportunity to protect your right to payment.

Subcontractors and suppliers should make a habit of checking their contract documents closely to see whether the state construction notices directory is being used for each new project. They should also always check online (www.scnd.pa.gov) by searching for the job address, the owner’s name and the general contractor’s name before starting any work. The database is self-explanatory, and even has short videos explaining its purpose and how to use it. Failing to take this easy step before beginning a project can haunt a sub or supplier down the road, after payment issues have already reared their ugly head. Don’t get caught in this spooky situation!

If you have additional questions about mechanics’ lien claims, construction contracting or payment issues, contact Bob Watson at Eastburn and Gray, PC.

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