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Residential Construction Litigation in Alabama: Navigating the Legal Landscape


Residential construction projects can often lead to disputes that require litigation to resolve. In Alabama, two key pieces of legislation that frequently come into play in such disputes are the Alabama Timely Payment to Contractors Act and the statutes governing mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens. This article will discuss the essential elements of these laws, their implications for contractors, subcontractors, and homeowners, and how they intersect in the realm of residential construction litigation.

Alabama Timely Payment to Contractors Act

The Alabama Timely Payment to Contractors Act (Ala. Code §§ 8-29-1 to 8-29-8) establishes specific timelines for payments to contractors and subcontractors to ensure they receive timely compensation for their work. The Act addresses the following key points:

Payment Obligations

Under Ala. Code § 8-29-3, an owner must pay the contractor within 30 days after the contractor’s payment request is certified or approved. If no certification or approval process is specified, payment is due 30 days after the request for payment is submitted.

Withholding Payments

The Act also provides a process for withholding payment if there is a “bona fide dispute” over certain issues. Strict adherence to the prescribed timetable is required.

Interest on Late Payments

If payments are not made within the specified timeframes, the unpaid party is entitled to interest on the late payment at a rate of 12% per annum (Ala. Code §§ 8-29-5, 8-29-6). This penalty aims to discourage delayed payments and compensate contractors and subcontractors for the wait.

Mechanics’ and Materialmen’s Liens

Mechanics’ and materialmen’s liens provide security for contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers who perform work or furnish materials for the improvement of real property. The relevant statutes can be found in Ala. Code §§ 35-11-210 to 35-11-233.

Filing a Lien

To file a lien, the claimant must provide notice to the property owner and file a statement of lien in the probate court of the county where the property is located. This statement must include a description of the property, the amount claimed, and the name of the owner, among other details (Ala. Code § 35-11-213).


Timeliness is critical in lien filings. A contractor must file a lien within six months after the last item of work or labor has been performed or materials furnished. Journeymen and laborers must do so within thirty (30) days. Subcontractors and suppliers have four months from the last date of work or delivery of materials to file their lien (Ala. Code § 35-11-215).

Enforcing a Lien

To enforce a lien, the claimant must file a lawsuit within six months after the maturity of the entire indebtedness secured by the lien (Ala. Code § 35-11-221). This requirement underscores the necessity of prompt action to protect lien rights.

Interplay Between the Timely Payment Act and Liens

The Alabama Timely Payment to Contractors Act and mechanics’ and materialmen’s lien statutes often intersect in residential construction litigation. For example, when an owner delays payment to a contractor, the contractor may seek to enforce timely payment under the Act. Concurrently, the contractor might file a lien to secure payment, ensuring that their interest in the property is protected.

Case Study

Consider a scenario where a homeowner fails to pay a contractor for completed work within the 30-day period stipulated by the Timely Payment Act. The contractor, after providing notice and filing the necessary lien documents, can claim interest on the overdue amount while also securing a lien against the homeowner’s property. If the dispute escalates, the contractor can then initiate litigation to enforce both the timely payment provisions and the lien.


Understanding the Alabama Timely Payment to Contractors Act and mechanics’ and materialmen’s lien laws is crucial for anyone involved in residential construction projects in Alabama. These statutes provide mechanisms to ensure timely payment and offer security for unpaid work and materials. By familiarizing themselves with these legal tools, contractors, subcontractors, and homeowners can better navigate the complexities of residential construction litigation..

This article aims to provide a foundational understanding of key legal concepts in Alabama’s residential construction sector. However, for specific legal advice or representation, consulting a qualified attorney is always recommended

At Brackin Law Firm we have been litigating residential construction disputes in Baldwin County, Alabama for decades. Whether you are a homeowner building your vacation home in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, a contractor renovating an existing home, or you are engaged in new construction in either capacity, be aware of the strict time limitations and other guidelines prescribed by Alabama law. Contact us today if you have concerns regarding residential construction matters.

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