Can An Architect Enforce a Mechanics Lien If a Contract Was Entered Before the Defendant Owned the Land ?

In Ohrenstein v. Howell, 227 Ill. App. 215 (1922), an architect was retained to prepare plans for the construction of a building that the defendant, not yet the owner of the lot, desired for the purpose of determining whether to purchase the lot and proceed with construction. The defendant subsequently purchased the lot and proceeded with construction, using a different architect. the original architect attempted to enforce a mechanic's lien against the lot for the value of his services. The court rejected the architect's claim, holding that the contract was entered into before the defendant owned the land and that the services were not rendered under a contract for the improvement of land. Ohrenstein, 227 Ill. App. at 219. The court held that, in order to sustain his claim, the architect must show that his services were rendered to the owner of the lot for the purpose of improving the lot. Ohrenstein, 227 Ill. App. at 219. The court held as follows: "The services rendered by the architect were not for the improvement of the lot but were merely for the purpose of furnishing defendant with information tending to show the possibilities of such an improvement. The alleged contract between the parties did not relate to any plans or specifications for the erection of a building and did not furnish any basis for determining the cost of the same, thereby showing that it was not the intention of the parties that they were to be used in the improvement of the lot, unless made the basis for the final plans and specifications of the proposed structure." Ohrenstein, 227 Ill. App. at 219. Furthermore, the court found that the contract was not between the lien claimant and the owner of the property or an agent of the owner. Accordingly, the architect's claim did not come within the terms of the Act.