Contractors have the ability to use liens to protect their ability to get paid for the work they have done. Generally speaking, a lien is a legal interest in someone else's property that a creditor, in this case the contractor, possesses until the debt is paid. Various parties involved in a construction project can get a lien – including the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers.
If a prime contractor is going to seek a lien against the property, the contractor has to provide notice within the written contract with the landowner that they are reserving the right to do so if the contractor does not get paid for their work. If there is no written contract, the prime contractor has 10 days after work has started or materials have been supplied to give the landowner notice that the contractor may seek a lien.
If anyone other than the prime contractor is going to seek a lien or wants to protect that right, they have to give a landowner written notice within 60 days of starting work or supplying materials.
If a prime contractor or other subcontractor or supplier has protected their lien rights, as described above, and if they are not paid for work or supplies, they must provide a "Notice of Intention to File Claim for Lien," followed by a "Claim for Lien" form. There are specific requirements for both documents. It is the Claim for Lien gets filed with the clerk of court's in the county in which the land is located.