Let’s say that Bob has work done to his home. Some payments are made per the contract, but the final payment requires some adjustments to be made to account for changes agreed to during the project, so the amount is unknown. However, following completion of the project the contractor goes quiet. For several months…

Is there any period of time after which the contractor’s right to bill and expect timely payment will have expired?

Ethically Bob should pay them for work done, but just in case there is a dispute over the adjustments Bob would seem to have greater leverage to negotiate the longer the contractor takes to submit an invoice. (i.e. if the contractor takes 6 months to submit a final invoice wouldn’t it be fair for Bob to have 6 months to negotiate or pay?)

Is there any statute of limitations beyond which Bob is considered to be out from under the terms of the contract? (Presume that terms of the contract are not tied to the lifespan of any British royalty…)

1 Answer 1


The statute of limitations for a breach of contract applies. This is four years in Washington State.

But, if a claim isn't made within a much shorter period of time after the last work is done (typically a few months at most), the contract waives the contractor's right to a mechanic's lien in the property to enforce those contract rights. This deadline in 90 days in most cases in Washington State (with quite a bit of case law spelling out when you start counting).

The contract can, of course, provide for other deadlines and consequences for not meeting them, and frequently would, especially in a construction loan financed project.


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