How a mechanic's lien is interpreted under Virginia Law

The modern form of a mechanic's lien can be traced to Thomas Jefferson, who used the concept in promoting the construction of Washington, the new capital city of our young republic.

Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia, like other such courts in other states, maintains and updates the law concerning liens such as this one that seeks to protect the interests of contractors.

Understanding Title 43

Title 43 of the Code of Virginia speaks to mechanic's liens. In brief, it stipulates that anyone who performs some manner of construction labor or furnishes building materials valued at $150 or more "shall have a lien" as a remedy for nonpayment by the customer. According to the statute, it applies to the construction, removal or improvement of "any building or structure permanently annexed to the freehold." However, no one can make such a claim for improvements or repairs to an existing structure unless the owner authorized them.

Halting a project

If an individual does not handle a lien claim in an expeditious manner, it can bring a construction project to a halt quickly. The project can remain dormant for weeks, months or even years while waiting for a resolution to the matter. Among other stipulations, the Virginia statute requires that people file liens according to certain timeframes. For example, the 150-day rule invalidates liens that apply to work done more than 150 days following the last day on which the individual filing the claim performed work.

Settling a matter

There are several options for settling a case concerning a mechanic's lien. These include mediation, negotiation and litigation. A case can go to trial in either a state or federal court, as applicable, or an administrative agency such as the Virginia Board for Contractors may settle it in a hearing.

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