DO serve a Notice of Furnishing ("NOF"). Without the NOF the only person that really knows taht you are working on the project is the one that hired you. The NOF gives you the opportunity to make sure that all the right people (the people who are responsible for assuring that subs and suppliers are paid) know, too.
The NOF gets you on the right lists, the lists that the owner and the contractor look at when they are getting ready to make the next payment to the companies that work for them. When you serve an NOF you ARE on that list and before they make the payment, they want to know that you are being paid for your work (partially because most people are good people and they want the people who do the work to be paid, and partially because they know you have lien rights and the LAST thing they want is for you to file an Ohio Mechanic's Lien.
Ohio Mechanic's Liens: Maintaining Your Mechanic's Lien Rights
If you are working on or supplying material to a construction project in Ohio (with some exceptions for homeowner involved residential projects) a Notice of Commencement ("NOC") has likely been filed. If an NOC has been filed and if you are a subcontractor or supplier, you MUST serve an NOF if you want to assure that you have the right to file an Ohio Mechanic's Lien to protect your right to be paid by claiming a security interest (the Lien) in the property you improved.
Your ultimate right, if you are not paid, is to foreclose on the property. Without having served your NOF, you have no ability to file your mechanic's lien to be able to exercise this right. Often just the threat of filing a mechanics lien by your attorney is enough to bring the parties to the table to get you paid. If that does not work, filing the lien gets you in the right line for consideration when the property is being sold or refinanced. All else failing, you can still file suit to force the issue.
Ohio Mechanic's Liens: Being a Professional Subcontractor or Supplier, Serve Your Notice of Furnishing
The Ohio Mechanic's Lien Law was changed over 20 years ago to include the Notices of Commencement ("NOC") and Notices of Furnishing ("NOF"). It is a part of doing business as a professional subcontractor or supplier. Owners and contractors are increasingly sophisticated and EXPECT that you will SERVE AN NOF. Actually, they will be more surprised if you don't.
Some subcontractors and suppliers are concerned that a contractor or owner will be upset if they are serve an NOF. Again, it is a part of the construction business, as much as a construction contract is. People think it is strange if you do your work on a handshake, this is the same. It isn't personal, it's business.
You will also look more professional to your banker if you do follow all the rules and properly serve your NOFs.
Ohio Mechanic's Liens: Serving Your Notice of Furnishing on Time, but if You Didn't, Remember, Better Late Than Never
The Ohio Mechanic's Lien law requires that for full lien rights, that is lien rights that cover ALL of your labor and/or materials, you must serve your NOF within 21 days of your first day that you supplied labor or materials on the project. If you are late, you lose one day of lien rights (the labor and/or materials you supplied on that day) for every day you are late.
If you serve your NOF on day 22, is it too late? No, for 2 reasons: First, unless you only supplied labor or materials on day 1, at least you will cover your claim for the time after that day. Second, even if you are VERY late, the contractor and the owner are less worried about whether you served it on time than they are about the headache they may have if you aren't paid. Even if you are late, service of the NOF is likely to get you paid.
If you have completely missed your lien rights and you aren't being paid, you still have a contract claim against your customer and an equitable claim against the others.