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Pennsylvania Construction Notices Directory Experiencing Growing Pains

As this Blog previously reported, Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law underwent significant changes beginning January 1, 2017.  Among those changes was the introduction of an online Construction Notices Directory (the “Directory”) which owners, contractors, and subcontractors must use to file certain notices in order to maintain their mechanics’ lien rights on certain “searchable projects” consisting of the construction, alternation or repair of an improvement costing at least $1.5 million.  The Directory is maintained and managed by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services (“DGS”), and supposedly includes records of every project filed with the Directory since the amendments became effective at the beginning of this year.

However, the Directory’s list of projects currently includes entries for exactly 100 projects dating back to September of 2017.  Does this mean that no notices were filed for searchable projects before September of 2017?  No, it does not.  Babst Calland contacted DGS regarding this issue and was informed that only 100 projects can be listed on the Directory at a given time.  Therefore, as new projects are listed on the Directory, older projects – which may still be under construction and therefore require the filing of additional notices – are no longer listed.  So what should a Directory user do if the project for which they need to file a notice is not among the 100 listed on the Directory?

In order to view these “unlisted” projects, a Directory user must first click the “SEARCH” tab, enter “0” (without quotation marks) into the search bar, and then press enter or click the magnifying glass icon.  As of the date of this entry, following these instructions allows a Directory user to view over 40 “unlisted projects” dating back to December of 2016to which the user would not otherwise have access.

First and second tier subcontractors should therefore be aware that the Directory does not automatically list every “searchable project” for which a Notice of Commencement has been filed.  In fact, the Directory only lists 100 projects at any given time unless the user executes a search for “0”.  Therefore, subcontractors who are uncertain of whether a project is listed on the Directory and wish to file a Notice of Furnishing or Nonpayment should follow this extra step to (1) determine if the project is listed and (2) file the applicable notices.

Babst Calland has made DGS aware of the numerous potential consequences of this issue, but is uncertain if or when a fix will occur.

If you have questions regarding the Pennsylvania Construction Notices Directory or how to view “unlisted” projects, please contact attorney JD Mazzocco at jmazzocco@babstcalland.com, or 412-394-5451.