The Woodlands

Understanding Mechanic Liens in Texas Architecture

July 2, 2024

In today’s challenging economic landscape, securing every possible source of revenue is vital for the survival of many businesses in the construction sector. Thankfully, there are several strategies available to support collection efforts. One of the most commonly used methods is the mechanic’s lien, as outlined in Chapter 53 of the Texas Property Code.

Mechanic’s liens are primarily utilized by contractors and suppliers as a way to secure payment for the essential labor and materials they provide to a construction project. In Texas, this tool is uniquely available not just to contractors but also to design professionals, such as architects, allowing them to secure payment for specific professional services contributed to a project. Given the current economic uncertainty and the difficulties in securing payments for services rendered, mechanic’s liens offer an essential way for design professionals to ensure they are compensated. 

What Is a Mechanic Lien? 

A mechanic’s lien is a tool that provides security to builders, contractors, suppliers, and other professionals who contribute labor, materials, or professional services to a construction project. Essentially, it is a claim made against a property by a contributor who has not yet received payment for their work or supplies. This lien ensures that their investment in the project is protected by granting them a right to secure payment against the property itself.

When a mechanic’s lien is filed, it creates a type of “hold” or encumbrance on the property’s title. This can prevent the sale or refinancing of the property until all outstanding payments are settled. The property itself serves as collateral for the debt, meaning that if the property owner fails to pay, the lienholder can force a sale of property to recover the owed amount.

Overall, mechanic’s liens are a fundamental aspect of the construction industry, providing crucial leverage to those who risk their labor and materials to improve property without immediate compensation.

Laws Related to Mechanic Liens in Texas for Architects and Engineers 

Under specific conditions, design professionals such as architects, engineers, or surveyors can establish a statutory lien on a property. According to Section 53.021(c) of the Texas Property Code, if these professionals create a plan or design under a formal contract with the property owner, and this plan or design is intended for the actual or proposed construction or improvement of the property, they are entitled to a lien on that property. The essential requirements are that the design professional must engage in a formal written agreement with the owner and must produce a plan, design, or plat specifically for the property in question. Importantly, even if the proposed design is never actually built, the professional can still claim a lien if they are not compensated.

Regarding the lien statute, certain design professionals are considered “original contractors,” which simplifies the notice requirements under the Texas Property Code. An “original contractor” directly contracts with the property owner or their agent. For instance, this could include an architect hired directly by a property owner to design a commercial office building or a geotechnical engineer engaged by a developer to conduct preliminary soil studies. When qualifying as an “original contractor,” a design professional does not need to issue a written notice prior to filing their lien affidavit.

However, not all design professionals directly contract with the property owner. Some, like structural engineers or specialists in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, often work as sub-consultants to an architect and, therefore, may not have a direct contractual relationship with property owners. In such cases, these professionals may not be eligible to claim a statutory lien.

The lawyers of Quadros, Migl & Crosby help you assess your legal rights and options, including seeking or defending against a mechanic lien. 

Speak With the Mechanic Lien Lawyers at Quadros, Migl & Crosby Today 

If you’re an architect working in Texas and you’re facing challenges securing payment for your services, understanding and leveraging mechanic’s liens can be your key to safeguarding your financial interests. Navigating the complexities of mechanic’s liens requires a thorough understanding of Texas property law, and this is where a skilled lawyer can prove invaluable. At Quadros, Migl & Crosby, we ensure that your contracts are in order, guide you through the specific requirements for filing a lien, and assist you in enforcing it if necessary. Don’t let unpaid fees compromise your business operations and financial stability. 

Contact our legal team today at (713) 300-9662 or fill out a contact form to learn how you can effectively use mechanic’s liens to protect your right to payment.