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Use Technology to Manage Project Deadlines and Lien Filing Dates

Scheduling work hours and delivery dates to complete a project on time is one side of meeting project deadlines in the construction industry.

Another is managing time and staying organized in order to meet deadlines for submitting lien related documents, such as sending preliminary notices and filing mechanics liens and bond claims (if it comes to that). Managing these documents is essential for construction companies to minimize risk by securing lien rights so they are protected in the event of nonpayment.

Keeping Up with Project Scheduling

Keeping track of project scheduling isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are myriad developments that can delay an entire construction project or individual contractors’ contributions: bad weather, late material shipments, poor work that needs to be redone, a contractor going over schedule, unreliable collaborators and more. Project schedules need to be flexible to account for delays and need to be accurate to ensure that construction parties don’t lose lien rights by calculating lien-related deadlines from inaccurate schedule dates.

Technology can ease the burden of managing project scheduling and adapting to changes. Dozens of software options exist that can aid construction companies with everything from managing budgets to allotting work hours for employees to online scheduling to arranging for material and equipment deliveries. On-premise software can be installed on company computers or servers, while apps and cloud-based platforms make it easy to access and manage information from the office and from the jobsite.

It’s possible to harness technology’s power to facilitate project scheduling even without purchasing or downloading specialized software directly geared toward construction companies. Simple tools often used in everyday life-like iCal and Google Calendar can make a huge difference for scheduling projects, easily noting changes, and maintaining electronic records of projects and work done. Electronic reminder apps and the ability to store and sync information between devices using the cloud means it’s easy to make notes or adjust dates on a smartphone without having to remember to make the same changes back at the office. Keeping track of projects in real time makes it less likely to enter and rely on inaccurate project dates, which can have severe consequences later on.

How Project Scheduling Affects Document Deadlines

Project scheduling impacts more than when and where work is provided; it also affects the sending of lien notices and claims. The deadline to send a notice or file a lien is often tied to the first or last day that work is provided. While this sounds straightforward, identifying a project start date can be challenging. What if a contractor was scheduled to begin on March 1 but doesn’t actually start until March 15? Is the deadline measured from the date listed in the contract? In the vast majority of cases, the deadline for submitting lien-related documents is measured from the date work was actually furnished (i.e., the first or last day the lien claimant was on the jobsite providing labor or materials). Consequently, it is essential to accurately track project schedules in order to accurately calculate document deadlines, especially because a majority of states require the sending of a preliminary notice to preserve the right to file a mechanics lien.

Once project dates have been determined, the next step is calculating the document deadline. Preliminary notices, mechanics liens and similar documents are typically due within a set number of days from when work was begun or completed. For example, the California lien statutes states that preliminary notice “shall be given not later than 20 days after the claimant has first furnished work on the work of improvement” (California Civil Code § 8200-8216). Deadlines vary widely state by state and document by document, so if a construction company works across state lines, it can be difficult to stay on top of the different requirements and accurately calculate document deadlines for all projects.

Online lien deadline trackers can be used to easily calculate deadlines; simply enter the relevant project dates and the number of days before the document is due. Other software options go even further. Some lien management platforms automatically send alerts when deadlines approach, and others can be programmed to automatically send preliminary notices without manual oversight. These solutions not only save time, but also help ensure financial protection by facilitating the process of securing lien rights.

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