First Step is a Notice of Commencement
A Notice of Commencement for improvements greater than $2,500 to real property must be signed by the owner and recorded with the Clerk of Courts. Then a certified copy of the recorded notice must be posted at the actual construction site. This must all happen within 90 days before starting work. If the improvements are not actually started within 90 days then a new Notice of Commencement must be recorded. The Notice, once recorded, is good for 1 year.
Why is all this so important? Without these initial steps, an owner could well lose certain protections afforded under the construction lien law. For example, payments made after the expiration of the notice of commencement or without the notice of commencement ever being recorded could adversely impact the priority of liens as well as the determination of who is responsible for certain payments.
Do you want to protect your completed work by filing a claim of lien? Better first look for that Notice of Commencement.