Furnisher of services or material to owner, general or sub, including those who rent construction equipment and machinery, and including employee benefit trust funds. Lower-tiered subcontractors may also have lien rights, as long as the owner consented to the construction and the lien is for services or materials provided to the construction project. Architectural services, such as plans and drawings, are lienable. [Weber v. Pascarella Mason Street, LLC, 103 Conn.App. 710, 930 A.2d 779 (Conn.App. 2007); Connecticut Carpenters Benefit Funds v. Burkhard Hotel Partners II, LLC, 849 A.2d 922, 83 Conn.App. 352 (2004)] Landscape architects’ work may be covered where it is directly associated with the physical construction or improvement of the real property. [Keith E. Simpson Associates, Inc. v. Ross, Not Reported in A.2d, 2010 WL 745500 (Conn.Super. 2010); aff’d at 9 A.3d 394 (Conn.App. 2010)] Surveying services may be lienable as well. [Compass Eng’g Group, LLC v. Lord, No. CV010168086 (J.D. of Waterbury 2003), Schor at §8.03[B]]. Employee benefit trust funds do have standing to file a lien. [Connecticut Carpenters Benefit Funds v. Burkhard Hotel Partners II, LLC, 849 A.2d 922, 83 Conn.App. 352 (2004)] Note that the subcontractor is subrogated to the general contractor’s rights, so if the contractor is fully paid, the subcontractor will not be able to recover. [Jeffrey v. R. Franco Home Improvements, Not Reported in A.3d, 2014 WL 7525628 (Conn.Super. 2014)]
On residential projects, only REGISTERED home improvement contractors and new home construction contractors; if they fail to comply with the registration requirements of the Home Improvement Act (HIA) or the New Home Construction Contractors Act (NHCCA), which include provisions that must be in all of their contracts, they do NOT have lien rights, nor will they be allowed to recover in quantum meruit.
Note that an architect must register as a home improvement contractor unless he or she is licensed as an architect in Connecticut. [Meadows v. Higgins, 49 Conn. App. 286, 714 A.2d 51 (1998), rev’d on other grounds, 249 Conn. 155, 733 A.2d 172 (1999); Hopko v. St. Peter, No. CV020100039S (J.D. of Middlesex, 2003); Gibbs v. Oliver, Not Reported in A.3d, 2014 WL 2024888, (Conn.2014); McGuire v. Weiser, Not Reported in A.3d, 2013 WL 5395841 (J.D. of Stamford-Norwalk, 2013)]
HOWEVER, licensed professionals such as electricians and plumbers are not required to comply with the HIA or the NHCCA when they are performing the work for which they are licensed. NOTE THAT where a licensed professional such as a plumber also performs work incidental to his or her plumbing work, for example repairing the driveway and reseeding the lawn after having dug up the lawn and driveway to perform plumbing work, such work is ancillary to the plumbing work and will be covered by the exemption to the Home Improvement Act. Engineers also are not covered by the Home Improvement Act. [Conroy Electric, LLC v. Dos Santos, Not Reported in A.2d, 2007 WL 2318153 (Conn.Super.2007); Drain Doctor, Inc. v. Lyman, 973 A.2d 672 (Conn. App.2009)]; Bahjat v. Dadi, 1 A.3d 212 (Conn.App., 2010)] There is also an exception where the contractor proves bad faith by the homeowners. [Baybrook Remodelers, Inc. v. Bennett, No. CV020464368 (J.D. of New Haven, 2003); M & S Paving & Sealing, Inc. v. Villa Maria Condominium Ass’n, Inc., Not Reported in A.3d, 2014 WL 7714355 (Conn.Super. 2014)] Subcontractors are not covered by the Home Improvement Act. [Andy’s Oil Service, Inc. v. Hobbs, 9 A.3d 433 (Conn. App.,2010)] Thus subcontractors will have lien rights even if the original contract did not comply with the Home Improvement Act. [Absolute Plumbing & Heating, LLC v. Edelman, 77 A.3d 889 (Conn. App.2013)] In addition, people or businesses providing the services and materials required for removal of a heating fuel storage tank, as well as for remediation of the tank-related soil contamination, have lien rights. [49-33; Santa Fuel, Inc. v. Varga, 823 A.2d 1249, 77 Conn.App. 474 (2003) cert. denied 831 A.2d 251, 265 Conn. 907] NOTE that the owner must actually own the property, or have an equitable interest in it, at the time of commencement of the work. If they only acquire title or an interest after work commences, the lien is invalid, even on work performed after actual ownership. [New England Sav. Bank v. Meadow Lakes Realty Co., 706 A.2d 465 (1998)]
NOTE that for a homeowner to recover punitive damages under CUTPA, for performing home improvements without being licensed or registered, the homeowner may be required to prove that they were damaged by the contractor’s unlicensed status. [Campagnone v. Clark, 116 Conn. App. 622, 978 A.2d 1115 (Conn.App. 2009)] NOTE ALSO that for a homeowner to recover damages under the HIA (Home Improvement Act), the homeowner must prove that the contractor’s alleged breach caused damage to the homeowner. [Valentini v. Conners, Not Reported in A.3d, 2013 WL 4734782 (Sup.Ct. Ct. 2013)]