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Not all mechanics and construction lien claims are created equally. Some states have very powerful lien claims, and other states have a bit less powerful claims. The legal concepts controlling this can be and are frequently referred to as "unpaid balance" and "full price" rules. Each state typically adopts one or the other.
In Unpaid Balance states, the lien claim is only effective against the amount of money the owner has yet to pay to the general contractor. The lien claim, therefore, is only against the "unpaid balance" on the owner's contract with the GC. This protects the owner from paying for the same work twice. Even in states where this is the case, the rule is sometimes restricted to only apply to residential projects (to protect consumers and homeowners).
Full price states are the opposite. In these states, lien claims are effective for the full price of the lien, regardless of any other payments made or not made.
Figuring out which state is which can be tough. This easy to read infographic will guide you.