The Washington Supreme Court recently held that a contractor is not required to provide a property owner with a prelien notice in order to have a valid lien for labor provided to a construction project.[1]

Washington contractors are allowed to record liens for property that they improve through labor, professional services, materials, or equipment.[2] However, in some circumstances, the contractor must first provide a prelien notice to the property owner.[3]

The Decision

In a recent case, the Washington Supreme Court addressed whether the prelien notice was required only for amounts owed for professional services, materials, and equipment, or whether it also applied to amounts owed for labor. The court held that the text of the prelien statute, the context provided by surrounding statutes, and the legislative history all supported its conclusion that prelien notice is not required for a labor lien.[4]

The court did note, however, that if the contractor has a "comingled" lien that includes amounts for both labor and materials, and the contractor does not give prelien notice, only the portion of the lien covering labor charges will be valid. The portion of the lien that is for materials will be invalid.[5]


Based on this decision, Washington property owners should be diligent in monitoring who is providing labor on their project so that an unexpected labor lien is not recorded after the project concludes. While labor contractors do not have to provide prelien notice if they are providing only labor, they still need to make sure to provide prelien notice if they are providing professional services, materials, or equipment in addition to labor.

Of course, a labor-only contractor can still provide a prelien notice even if it is not required. Doing so as a matter of routine can reduce the chances that the contractor forgets to send a prelien notice on those projects where it is required.


[1] Velazquez Framing, LLC v. Cascadia Homes, Inc., 540 P3d 1170 (Wash. 2024).

[2] Id. at 1171 (citing RCW 60.04.021).

[3] Id. (citing RCW 60.04.031(1)).

[4] Id. at 1171-73.

[5] Id. at 1174.