Specially fabricated materials are those materials that are specially manufactured, designed, or fabricated for a particular project and are not materials that can be universally used on all projects. Specially fabricated materials have been described as those materials “not generally suited for nor readily adaptable to use in a like improvement.” Odolite Industries, Inc. v. Millman Const. Co., Inc., 501 So.2d 655, 656 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987) (quotation omitted). For instance, the Florida Supreme Court in Stunkel v. Gazebo Landscaping Design, Inc., 660 So.2d 623, 625 n.2 (Fla. 1995), noted that trees the owner specifically selected for a project were not specially fabricated because they could be used on other projects; whereas, in Lehigh Structural Steel Co. v. Joseph Langer, Inc., 43 So.2d 335, 338 (Fla. 1949), the Court noted that structural steel fabricated for a specific building was specially fabricated materials. (Notably, furnishing specially fabricated materials does not include “design work, submittals, or the like preliminary to actual fabrication of the materials.” Fla. Stat. s. 713.01(13).)
Preserving lien rights under Florida’s Lien Law for specially fabricated materials is different than other materials (or non-specially fabricated materials).
Because specially fabricated materials are specifically fabricated for a particular project, these materials do NOT have to be actually incorporated into the project for the supplier / fabricator to have lien rights. Aquatic Management, Inc. v. Paramount Engineering, Inc., 977 So.2d 600 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007). If the materials are not specially fabricated, the materials do need to be actually incorporated into the project. Id. This is a major difference.
And, because specially fabricated materials do not have to be actually incorporated for a supplier / fabricator to have lien rights for those materials, a notice to owner / intent to look to the payment bond (if there is a payment bond) needs to be served within 45 days from the start of actual fabrication and NOT from when the materials are actually delivered to the job site (since the materials do not actually have to be delivered and incorporated for lien rights for these materials). See Odolite Industries, 501 So.2d at 656; Fla. Stat. 713.01(13). This means that a supplier of specially fabricated materials not in privity with the contractor needs to absolutely serve its notice to owner immediately and no later than 45 days from when fabrication begins.
Also, if the supplier / fabricator is owed money: “Materials specially fabricated at a place other than the site of the improvement for incorporation but not so incorporated and the contract price or value thereof shall be separately stated in the claim of lien.” Fla. Stat. s. 713.08(1)(c).
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