If you contract directly with a property owner, some states require a particular form ("Notice to Owner" a.k.a. "NTO") be given to the owner in advance of starting work if you even want the option to lien later should a payment issue arise. However, pre-lien requirements and notices vary based on whether you are the general contractor or a subcontractor on a job. Without the proper Notice to Owner given at the right time, you may be precluded from filing a lien, or at least without penalties. Some states (like Tennessee) have criminal penalties attached to filing a lien without the proper Notice to Owner.
Our goal is to help you get paid on your past, current, and future jobs. If the circumstances don't align to be able to file a lien on a past or current project, we can discuss alternatives to filing a lien, such as crafting a demand letter for a flat fee or filing a lawsuit or small claim directly. There is value to knowing your options, some of which may have to be exercised within certain time frames set out by law. If in doubt, just ask.