Tardy Notice of Commencement Valid says GA Court of Appeals!

As you are aware, Georgia’s lien statutes require that third tier suppliers and subcontractors (those not in privity of contract with either the general contractor or the owner) file Notices to Owners IF the general contractor or the project owner filed a Notice of Commencement.  Furthermore, according to the Georgia statutes, the Notice of Commencement must be filed within fifteen (15) of the commencement of the project.  The Georgia Code also states, “The failure to file a Notice of Commencement shall render the provisions of this Code section inapplicable.”

So, what happens when the Notice of Commencement is not filed within fifteen days?

In a recent court of appeals decision (Southeast Culvert, Inc. v. Hardin Bros., LLC), the Georgia Court of Appeals gave general contractors some guidance on this question.  In the case, the general contractor had filed its Notice of Commencement approximately 23 days after commencing work on the project; thus, the lien claimant argued that (i) because the GC filed its lien more than fifteen days after beginning work, (ii) the Notice of Commencement was not valid, and (iii) suppliers and subcontractors do not have an obligation to file a Notice to Owner is the Notice of Commencement is not valid.

The Georgia Court of Appeals did not agree with this reasoning; instead, it held that an eight-day delay in filing the Notice of Commencement did not relieve the lien claimant of its obligation to provide a Notice to Contractor. The court reasoned that neither party disputed that a Notice of Commencement had been filed–it was disputed whether the delay in filing the Notice of Commencement invalidated the supplier’s obligation to send an NTO.  The court held that the code section which states “The failure to file a Notice of Commencement shall render the provisions of this Code section inapplicable…” was not applicable to this case.  The Court reasoned that this code section applies only when there has been a total failure to file a Notice of Commencement at the time when a materialman must give a written Notice to Contractor to perfect its lien.  There was no such total failure to file a Notice of Commencement here, merely an untimely filing.

We would love to hear whether you think this is a wise decision so please leave a comment below!  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


  1. If the request for the NOC was made prior to filing, then I would think the GC or owner has the obligation to send it to the supplier/sub as soon as available. If the supplier/sub receives a copy of the NOC, then it is their responsibility to send the NTC to the GC and owner. I think the supplier/sub, if they got the NOC, lost their right of claim if they did not send the NTC. They look like they blew it unless they did not receive a copy of the NOC. In the event the GC filed and failed to copy the supplier/sub, then their rights would have been upheld. This comes down to proof of receipt. Certification in all directions is the only way to protect interests. However it should be noted that filing the NTC proves receipt of the copy of the NOC. A danger lies in the possibility of no proof of delivery for the NTC.

    I would love to discuss the Georgia Prompt Pay Act. They might as well take that one off the books.

    1. Thank you for your great comment. We stronly agree with you that that proof of delivery can be essential; in fact, we urge all of our third-tier clients to send their NTO’s and NTC’s via certified mail, and we urge all of our GC clients to sents any Notices of Commencements via Certified Mail as well. That way, they can show the court that the item was postmarked a certain day and the document was received by the recipient on a particular day.

      Also, thank for the great idea on a blog entry on the prompt payment act; we’ll be tackling that pretty soon!


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