Builders did not have lien rights at common law:
At common law, there were no builders’ liens. It is the statute that creates the liens and the enforcement rights. In my view, one cannot take part of the statute and create common law rights by ignoring other parts of the statute. The statute is an entire code established by legislation.
(Pine Valley Mining Corporation (Re), 2007 BCSC 812 at para. 24).
[The Builders Lien Act] provides security for the enforcement of registered liens against the lands in two forms: by creating a holdback system whereby the owner of the lands retains a percentage of the contract price owed to the contractor until the lien is paid, and by providing lien holders with a remedy for the payment of their liens through an order for the sale of the owner’s interest in the lands. These rights and remedies were not available at common law and are the sole creations of the provincial legislature.
(Vancouver International Airport Authority v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2011 BCCA 89 at para. 15).
The first lien legislation in British Columbia was the Mechanics' Lien Act, S.B.C. 1879, c. 24. Since then there have been a succession of changes leading to the current statute, Builders Lien Act, S.B.C. 1997, c. 45 which received Royal Assent on July, 30 1997, replaced the Builders Lien Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 41, and came into force on February 1, 1998.
In the summer of 1997 a "new" Builders Lien Act was introduced in the Provincial legislature. The legislation, Builders Lien Act, SBC 1997, c. 45, came substantially into effect on February 1, 1998, although subsequent amendments were made in 1998 through the Builders Lien Amendment Act, 1998, SBC 1998, c. 25.
(Marabella Pacific Construction Ltd. v. Fast Trac Bobcat & Excavating Service, 2002 BCSC 803 at para. 24).
Key changes implemented by the Builders Lien Act implemented in 1997 included a multiple holdback system, requirements for holdback accounts, and availability of a lien against the holdback.