More about the California 20-Day Preliminary Notice Form

Who Has To Do The California 20-Day Preliminary Notice Form?

The California 20-Day Preliminary Notice Form for Private Works is used by the Contractor or Supplier when the Contractor or Supplier wishes to protect his/her lien rights on a piece of property that is privately owned (not owned by the government).

Although it's been said that Contractors don't have to do preliminary notices on projects that they're directly contracted with the Owner on, that's only part of the story.

If there's a Lender on the job then the Contractor DOES have to do the preliminary notice, even when that Contractor is contracted directly with the Owner.

In addition, currently there is a clause in the contractor law that requires subcontractors to do preliminary notices and it allows for penalties should a subcontractor not do a preliminary notice when required!
Our attorney says...

ALWAYS prelim EVERY job you do work on, whether you're contracted directly with the Owner or not.

How does the preliminary notice form work on your computer?

The form downloads in two versions, Microsoft Word and Adobe pdf. You are welcome to use either or both, it's your choice. :)

Microsoft Word forms:

The Microsoft Word .doc version works ONLY with Microsoft Word, it does NOT work with any other program, ONLY Microsoft Word. When using Word documents you will be able to save filled in copies under various file names.

After you purchase and download the form and open it in Microsoft Word all you have to do is TAB from field to field and fill it in with your computer. Each fill-in field has a help note to tell you what needs to go into the field.

When you're done filling in the form, print it out and it's ready to go!

Adobe pdf forms:

The Adobe pdf version works with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader and the premium versions of Adobe Acrobat. When using premium versions of the Adobe Acrobat programs you'll be able to save filled in copies of the form under various file names.

When using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader you'll be able to fill in the form using your computer and print as many copies as you need and you can save your filled-in forms and even go back and change them if need be.

After you purchase and download the form and open it in Adobe all you have to do is TAB from field to field and fill it in with your computer. Each fill-in field has a help note to tell you what needs to go into the field.

When you're done filling in the form, print it out and it's ready to go!

Is the preliminary notice form up-to-date?

The California 20-Day Preliminary Notice law changed in 2004 causing the verbiage to change. (But once again the law changed, in July 2012, requiring extensive changes to the forms and methods of processing the new forms.)

In 2004 there was additional text required to be added to the "Notice to Owner" section of the form. That text is as follows (but this information is kind of moot at this point since the law changed again in July 2012):

"Other than residential homeowners of dwellings containing fewer than five units, private project owners must notify the original contractor and any lien claimant who has provided the owner with a preliminary 20-day lien notice in accordance with Section 3097 of the Civil Code that a notice of completion or notice of cessation has been recorded within 10 days of its recordation. Notice shall be by registered mail, certified mail, or first-class mail, evidenced by a certificate of mailing. Failure to notify will extend the deadlines to record a lien."
When, and if, the text on the form is required by law to be changed again, past purchasers of our form are entitled to a free copy of the updated form (no matter how many times the law might change the form).

For information for the latest changes (the 2012 changes) please see this page about the new preliminary notice legal requirements.