1. Basics of a Pre-Lien.
2. Pre-Lien for Private Works
3. Pre-Lien for Public Works
Pre-Lien for Public Works
For California governmental works of improvement, a "Preliminary Notice" must be served on the public agency and the prime/general contractor.
Every person who furnishes labor, professional services, materials, machinery, fixtures, or tools must serve the Preliminary Notice otherwise he/she may lose his/her rights to a stop notice and bond claim. Contractors who have a direct contract with the prime/general contractor and laborers are exempt from having to serve this notice. The Preliminary Notice should be served no later than twenty (20) days after the claimant has first furnished labor, professional services, materials, machinery, fixtures, or tools to the job site.
If the notice is not served within the required time frame, it may still be served late. However, late notices will limit your rights to a stop notice and bond claim to twenty (20) days prior to the service of the notice and anytime thereafter. Below is an example of the limited rights of a stop notice and bond claim if the Preliminary Notice is served late:
Example: ABC Construction is a subcontractor that commenced work at the County Hospital on August 1, 2005 but did not serve a Preliminary Notice until August 31, 2005. According to California law, the notices must be served no later than 20 days from the start date and ABC Construction has served their notice 10 days late. Although the notice can still be served on the 31st of August, their rights to a stop notice and bond claim will be limited.
Since the notice was served 10 days late, ABC Construction will lose rights to a stop notice and bond claim for all of the work that was completed during the first 10 days on the job site. Let’s assume that the work provided during the first 10 days was worth $2,500 and the total price of the construction project is $75,000. There are no rights to a stop notice or bond claim for the $2,500 but ABC Construction still retain rights to a stop notice and bond claim for $72,500.
Service of the Preliminary Notice is considered complete once the notice has been delivered to the Post Office.
The term "days" are calculated by calendar days and NOT business days unless otherwise stated. Time is calculated by excluding the first day and including the last day, unless the last day is a holiday, then it is also excluded.
List of Cited Statutes and Case Laws for further research
 California Civil Code § 9300.
 California Civil Code § 9304.
 California Civil Code § 8116.
 California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 12, 12(a).