The processes required to file your construction liens are often confusing and unclear, and they vary depending on the state you work in, so it’s important to dig a little deeper than just a normal Google search. We’re here to take away the complexity and confusion and give it to you straight. If you work in Wisconsin and need to know the lien laws, this is the spot for you. Here, we break down exactly what the state of Wisconsin requires for you to properly file a valid lien and bond claim.

 How to File a Valid Lien in Wisconsin: 

  • For residential projects (4 residential units or less), a Place 1* Contractor or Material Supplier must give the Owner a written preliminary notice within ten (10) days of first work and/or materials supplied. This notice can be included in the contract with the Owner.
  • For residential projects Place 2* and below Contractors and Material Suppliers must send a preliminary notice to the Owner within sixty (60) days of first work and/or materials supplied.
  • You must send an Owner notice of your intent to file a lien at least thirty (30) days before you file the lien.
  • Your lien must be filed within sixty (60) days of the last work and/or materials supplied. You must attach a copy of all your notices to the lien.
  • You must send the Owner a copy of the lien that was filed within thirty (30) days of filing the lien.
  • You must file suit to enforce your lien within two (2) years of filing the lien.
  • You can also have a lien on funds due to the Place 1* Contractor from the Owner or the Owner’s Lender. You need to send written notice of unpaid amounts to the Owner, Lender, Place 1* Contractor, and whoever hired you.

How to Have a Valid Bond Claim in Wisconsin:

  • Bonds are required on all state projects more than $369,000 and on all local governmental projects more than $148,000.
  • Place 3* and above Contractors and Material Suppliers have bond claim rights, except on state highway projects only Place 2* Contractors have bond claim rights.
  • Place 2* Contractors and Material Suppliers can also assert a lien on the funds due to the Place 1* Contractor. The Place 2* Contractor or Material Supplier must send notice to the public entity having the work done and the Place 1* Contractor before everything is paid to the Place 1* Contractor. You are not entitled to a lien on the Place 1* Contractor’s funds for City of Milwaukee projects.
  • If the Place 1* Contractor disputes the claim, you must bring an action to determine the claim within three (3) months of the notice of dispute.

If you work in Wisconsin, verify that your pay is as protected as possible by sticking to the lien laws listed here. If you want to master your Lien Laws in Wisconsin, listen to The Quit Getting Screwed Construction Podcast to get started. If you’d prefer to have someone else take care of filing your construction lien or bond, and do it the right way, contact an experienced Wisconsin lien lawyer who understands construction law. Our sister company, The Cromeens Law Firm, has a 90% success rate of collections before having to foreclose on a lien, saving you costly legal fees. If you believe in your work, your company, and your right to proper payment, show it by filing your liens the right way.

*The “places” referenced in the rules above correlate to the Construction Food Chain Chart from Karalynn Cromeens’ book,
Quit Getting Stiffed. The chart can be found here to use when following these lien and bond rules.