Legal Insights / Fees / Builders Liens: what it is and how much does it cost?

Builders Liens: what it is and how much does it cost?

Jan 8 2024

What is it?

A builders lien is a charge registered with the Land Titles Office on property by a person who has provided work, labour or services, or supplied materials to an improvement or construction project. It may be claimed by a contractor, subcontractor or worker. The minimum claim of lien is $200.

The “charge” or “lien” may prevent the owners of the property from being able to sell or refinance it, however it does not guarantee payment and it is only temporary. Once filed, it is the responsibility of the lien claimant (the entity or person who filed the lien) to enforce the lien if a payment has not been recovered or settlement isn’t reached. Unless legal action is taken by the claimant and a Certificate of Pending Litigation (known as a “CPL”) filed with the Land Titles Office, the builders lien will only last for one year from the date it was filed and then can be removed from the title to the property.

How it Works

Generally, lien claimants have 45 days to file a builders lien. This starts to run from:

a) the date on which a Certificate of Completion was issued;

b) if no Certificate of Completion has been issued, the date a head contract has been competed, abandoned or terminated; or

c) if the owner did not engage a head contract, the date the improvement is completed or abandoned.

Applications can be submitted online and registration on title typically takes place within 48 hours of the application being submitted.

What we Need

At least 3 business days ahead of the 45-day deadline, we need the following:

  1. Details about the claim, such as:
    • the work, labour, services and/or materials provided and unpaid;
    • the amount owing;
    • when the amount was and/or will be due; and
    • the names and addresses of the claimant (you) and the party you contracted with;
    • a copy of all of your contracts; and
    • a copy of all invoices rendered and details relating to any payments received.
  2. A civic address or the Parcel Identifier (PID) for the property that you are claiming a lien against. This can be found on BC Assessment and we can assist you with this.
  3. A fee of $500 plus taxes and disbursements.

Note it is a quasi-criminal offence to file a lien containing a false statement, which is punishable by a fine not exceeding the greater of $2,000 or the value by which the lien, as filed, exceeds the correct value of the claim. It will be very important to provide us with accurate details and for a claimant to review the lien application closely before it gets filed. This is one of the reasons we need at least 3 business days’ notice to prepare the application.

What Happens Next

Often you will be able to reach an agreement with the owners or head contractors in relation to the amounts owing to you, and we can assist with removing the lien or you may choose to allow it to expire.

If you have not been paid within a year from the date your lien was filed, you need to commence a Notice of Civil Claim in the BC Supreme Court and file a CPL in the Land Titles Office, which again secures your interest in the property for the amount owing. This is a more formal process.

If you receive a Notice to Commence an Action, you must commence your legal action and file your CPL within 21 days. If you would like our assistance with this, we need to be notified as soon as possible and at least 1 week prior to the 21 day deadline. We require a fee of $1,500 plus taxes and disbursements as well as would need all of the documentation and information referred to above unless we also prepared the builders lien.

What it Costs

Builders lien: $500 plus taxes and disbursements.

Notice of Civil Claim and CPL (if we prepared the Builders Lien): 1,500 plus taxes and disbursements. If we were not involved in preparing the Builders Lien, our minimum fee for preparing the Notice of Civil Claim and CPL is $2,000 plus taxes and disbursements.

The fees above are based on standard disputes. Additional fees may be charged if the matter is more complex, involving multiple parties or sites, or where we need to prepare the lien application or Notice of Civil Claim and CPL on a rush basis (if we have capacity to do so).


We regularly prepare builders liens and are happy to assist you. Please contact our office at 604.853.0774 to meet with a member of our General Civil Litigation Team.

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