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Proposed Amendment to Mechanics’ Lien Law Seeks to Give Architects Lien Rights in Pennsylvania

Representative Dan Truitt, a Republican serving part of Chester County, Pennsylvania, recently proposed as House Bill 430 legislation that seeks to amend the Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 (i.e. the current and applicable mechanics’ lien law, hereinafter referred to as the “Lien Law”) to add “architect, engineer, or other licensed design professional” to the definitions of “contractor” and “subcontractor” that have mechanics’ lien rights.

Under the Lien Law, a mechanics’ lien may only be maintained for payment of debts due by the owner to a “contractor” or by a “contractor” to any of his “subcontractors”. 49 P.S. § 1301.  As of the date of this blog post, the definitions section of the Lien Law defines “contractor” to include “an architect or engineer who, by contract with the owner, express or implied, in addition to the preparation of drawings, specifications and contract documents also superintends or supervises any such erection, construction, alteration or repair.”  49 P.S. § 1201.  The definitions section also states that the term “subcontractor” does not include “an architect or engineer who contracts with a contractor or subcontractor….”  Id. 

Thus, under the current law,  architects only have mechanics’ lien rights if they supervise or “superintend” onsite work for the construction project.  By amending the definitions of “contractor” and “subcontractor” to expressly include architects, engineers and other design professionals, House Bill 430 stands to remove the requirement that design professionals must perform onsite work to have mechanics’ lien rights, thereby significantly expanding what were previously very limited mechanics’ lien rights for design professionals.

House Bill 430 is currently before the House’s Labor and Industry committee.  Babst Calland will continue to monitor the Bill’s status and will post updates on this blog when applicable, so check back often.