Architect’s Lien


An architect’s lien is the rights of an architect to retain a client’s papers until the architect’s fees have been paid.  In other words, an architect’s lien may be attached to real property in favor of an architect who supervised the same when such fees are unpaid.  Architects who draw plans and supervise work are generally allowed to file claims under mechanic’s lien statutes.  If a statute specifically provides that the architects are entitled to mechanics’ liens, then the architects are allowed to file claims under the relevant mechanic’s lien statute.

An architect is entitled to a mechanic’s lien for preparing and furnishing plans, even if the architect does not supervise the construction, if the plans are actually used in the construction of the building.[i] An architect who prepares the drawings, plans, and specifications for a building, and superintends the erection can be called as a labor and s/he is within the protection of the mechanic’s lien statute.[ii]

Similarly, a superintending architect is entitled to have his/her lien, under statutes providing for liens labor, not only for his/her services in superintending the work, but also for his plans and specifications in accordance with which the building is erected.[iii] However, an architect’s lien cannot be sustained unless it appears that there is a strict compliance with the terms of the mechanic’s lien statute.[iv] If the statute requires additional services be performed and any failure to perform such services prevents the effective filing of a claim.[v]

However, an architect who only draws plans will be entitled to a lien under such statutes under both circumstances when the plans are used or not used in construction.  On the other hand, some courts hold that the drawing of plans alone will not result to give rise to a lien, if they were not used in actual construction.[vi]

[i] Cubit Corp. v. Hausler, 114 N.M. 602 (N.M. 1992), See also Gaastra, Gladding & Johnson v. Bishop’s Lodge Co., 35 N.M. 396 (N.M. 1931)

[ii] Anderton v. Tompkins, 284 Ala. 709 (Ala. 1969)

[iii] Johnson v. McClure, 10 N.M. 506 (N.M. 1900)

[iv] Ohrenstein v. Howell, 227 Ill. App. 215 (Ill. App. Ct. 1922)

[v] Stratford v. Boland, 306 Pa. Super. 475 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1982)

[vi] Branecky v. Seaman, 688 S.W.2d 117 (Tex. App. Corpus Christi 1984)