In some circumstances one who is normally a subcontractor (e.g., electrician or plumber) may have a direct contract with the owner of the property.  If you have a direct contractual relationship with the owner, you will be considered to be an “original contractor” and you may have a constitutional lien.  The constitutional lien attaches to the “building” or “article” you improved.

The beauty of a constitutional lien is it is self-executing.  That means you do not have to send notice to the owner, but it is recommended.  The policy behind constitutional liens is the owner already knows you were not paid because you have a contract with the owner.  However, to assert a constitutional lien, you must file a lien affidavit as you would with a statutory mechanic’s lien.  It is important to record your lien affidavit promptly to avoid the risk that the building or article is sold to a bona fide purchaser before your lien affidavit is filed.

Another benefit of constitutional liens is time.  Some courts have held that a claim to foreclose a constitutional lien has a four year statute of limitations rather than the two year statute of limitations which applies to statutory mechanic’s lien claims.