Written by attorney George William Wolff

20 Day Preliminary Notice Requirements for Contractors and Subcontractors on California Construction



• First Tier Subcontractors Having a Direct Contract With the Public Agency or Private Property Owner - Do Not Have to Serve a Preliminary Notice on Public Projects.

• Caution - Play it Safe and Serve Notice.

• Subcontractors and suppliers must ALWAYS Serve a Preliminary Notice

• Notice - Must be Served on Prime Contractor and Public Agency on Public Jobs, or on

Prime Contractor, Property Owner & Construction Loan Lender on Private Jobs

• Methods of Service for 20- Day Preliminary Notice

• Personal Service by process server or third party

• First Class Mail Allowed on Public Project (Not on Private jobs)

• If Mailing, Best Practice is by Certified Mail -Request Return Receipt

• Contractor Place of Business - Do Not Mail to Job Site!

• Check Contract Documents for Proper Public Entity and Owner & Lender


• Are you a prime contractor or a subcontractor?

• All persons who do not have a direct contract with the owner of the property - including material suppliers to a contractor or subcontractors and persons contracting with a tenant- are considered "subcontractors" for purposes of meeting the requirements of the Mechanics Lien Stop Notice and Payment Bond Laws.

• Even if you are a licensed general contractor, you are considered to be a "subcontractor" for certain purposes under the California Mechanics Lien Law when your contract is not a direct contract with owner of the property, such as when a general contractor contracts with a tenant of the owner of the property on either public property or private property.

N.B. The contents of this Article do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship, and you may not rely on it without seeking legal advice regarding your particular situation and contract from a competent construction attorney. Please also note that statutes and case law are frequently changing and these materials may become outdated.

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer