By Diane Dennis
The certificate of completion aka notice of completion is filed with the County to let it know that your project is … complete. ;o)
If only a portion of the project is complete, say you have two different direct contractors with each doing a completely different portion of the improvement, you are allowed to file a notice of completion for just the contractor/trade that has finished.
I found a terrific article for contractors about why you *want* the Owner to file that notice of completion / certificate of completion. (whoops, the article is gone, I've contacted the author to see if I can post it)
To go a step further you may even want to include copies of notice of completion forms with your contract!
After, or at the time of, project completion the Owner will record the certificate of completion.
The Owner has fifteen days from the date of completion of the project to file the notice with the county recorder's office.
If the Owner files the document within that 15-day time frame then the length of time allowed for the Contractors/Suppliers to file a lien drops to as short as 30 days after completion.
After fifteen days if the notice hasn't been filed it's too late for the Owner to do so, it flat-out won't be accepted.
Not recording that notice extends the amount of time a Contractor has to file a lien.
For Subcontractors and Suppliers it goes up to 60 days from date of completion; for Direct/Prime Contractors it goes up to 90 days from date of completion.
Below is a list of some of the various bits of information most typically required on Notice of Completion/Certificate of Completion documents for construction (that will normally be filed with the county recorder's office):
Take the notice to your local county recorder's office (actually the county where the project is located) to file/record it.
Please note that if your notice of completion doesn't comply with the requirements of your state you could face some type of penalty (such as the 60 days to 90 days rule above).
Next you'll probably need to notify certain parties that you've filed a certificate of completion.
The notification is 'served' to the parties in whatever manner your state requires.
This might consist of:
… or whatever other methods there might be.
There'll usually be a deadline on how many days you're given in which to serve this notice to the parties.
The parties could be any of the following and/or other:
Well, in California if you don't provide copies to the parties until after the 10 days then the notice isn't valid - extending the Subcontractors' and Suppliers' amount of time to lien from 30 days to 60 days after completion and the Direct/Prime Contractor's time extends to 90 days after completion.
The good news (for Californians at least) - that's the only 'penalty'!
By law the only thing affected, the only 'penalty you pay' is that the time frame for the guys to file mechanic's liens goes from 30 days to 60 days to 90 days from completion.
If you've been able to hold on to your property through all the economical downfalls and natural disasters it would be a shame to lose it by not protecting it from what would be a different type of disaster (a disaster caused literally by a piece of paper).
It can't be said enough… Check the laws for the state that your project is located in. The above information is a summary based mostly on California's laws. While your state may follow the same procedures you never know if there's something extra that you have to do. Do not rely on the above as the be-all and end-all for notice of completion/certificate of completion requirements.
Here's a link again to obtain a notice of completion for your project and there's also a 'notice of notice of completion' for some states.
Oh my gosh, can the states get any more redundant?