October 22, 2015 Practice Points

Contractor’s Lien Rights Take Priority Based on First Date of Work

A contractor who released its lien of record was allowed to re-record the lien and have priority over a lender based on contractor’s first date of work

by Paul R. Cressman Jr.

A recent case illustrates the significant benefits a contractor gains by having lien rights, and having priority dating back to the first date, and time, of work. Shelcon Construction Group, LLC v. Haymond, 187 Wn. App. 878, 351 P.3d 895 (Div. 2, May 27, 2015). The contractor who released its lien of record was allowed to re-record the lien and have priority over a lender based on contractor’s first date of work.

Scott Haymond hired Shelcon Construction Group LLC to perform earthwork, excavation, demolition, clearing, and grading for a real estate development project known as The Farm. On July 5, 2006, at 8:35 a.m., Shelcon marked the property boundaries with fluorescent ribbon to assist Shelcon’s employees in visually determining the boundary lines. Shelcon’s owner testified that he never clears and grubs without first marking the boundary lines. A few days later, on July 10, 2006, Shelcon employees actually cleared and grubbed The Farm.

On July 5, 2006, at 2:14 p.m., on the same day that Shelcon marked the property boundaries, Washington First International Bank recorded a deed of trust against the property to secure a $1,540,000 loan. Shelcon’s work continued, but it was not paid, and on June 20, 2008, it recorded a claim of lien with the Pierce County Recorder for $303,291. The lien reflected work beginning July 5, 2006.

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