Subcontractor: how to file a construction lien on a single-family residential project in Wisconsin

Chad William Koplien

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Government Attorney

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Posted over 6 years ago. Applies to Wisconsin, 107 helpful votes



60-Day Notice Requirement

Also known as the "Subcontractor Identification Notice," this form is handled as follows. Within and no later than 60 days of first labor. The subcontractor must prepare and serve 2 written and signed copies of a formal notice on the actual owner of the property (not the general contractor). This notice cannot be satisfied through language in a subcontract or proposal. i,? Tip: Check the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institution's ("DFI") website to look up the name of the owner if it is a business. This site will give you the full name of the owner, and the name and address of its registered agent for service of process. A link to the site is located below.


Notice of Intent to File Lien

Next, the subcontractor must prepare and serve a "notice of intent to file lien" form on the owner at least 30 days before to filing an actual "claim for lien" in Wisconsin circuit court, and within and no later than 5 months of last labor.


File the Claim For Lien

The "claim for lien" must be filed within 6 months of last labor. The owner must then be served with the lien within 30 days after the filing of the "claim for lien." So, time is of the essence in these matters.


Foreclose on the Lien

Within and no later than, 2 years from the date of the filing of the "Claim for Lien" form, in order to enforce the lien, a claimant must file a lawsuit to foreclose on the lien. As above, if you are organized as an LLC or corporation, you will need to retain an attorney to handle this portion.


Final Tip

Prior to filing your foreclosure lawsuit, consider obtaining a title letter report on the property from a reputable title company. You want to make sure that you have a chance of getting paid after the house is sold, based on the other liens that might be filed against the property that have priority over your lien.

Additional Resources

Tip: conduct an Internet search on this subject for other useful web articles on this issue.

Wisconsin Lien Statutes

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Wisconsin DFI Website

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