A common question that I get asked is whether a contractor needs to give notice before filing a lien. The answer is yes. Any contractor performing work on four or fewer residential units when the contract price is greater than $1,000.00 or performing work on a commercial building when the contract price is between $1,000.00 and $60,000.00 must provide a disclosure statement. The contents of this statement are described in RCW 18.27.114 and a model form can be found here: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Forms/pdf/F625-030-000.pdf.
The contractor must retain a signed copy of this disclosure form for three years. It is very important for the contractor to retain a signed copy and not just deliver a copy of the unsigned notice to the customer or allow the customer to retain the only signed copy. I recommend attaching this form as an exhibit to the construction contract and both parties retaining a signed copy.
Every person furnishing professional services, materials, or equipment must give the owner of the property notice in writing of the right to claim a lien. This notice is found in RCW 60.04.031 and a model form can be found here: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Forms/pdf/625054af.pdf. You can give this notice at any time but it only covers work that was performed sixty days before or, in the case of new construction of a single-family residence, work that was performed ten days before. A contractor does not need to give this notice if they contract directly with the owner of the property.
In short, if you are a general contractor you need to provide the model disclosure statement if the contract meets the requirements. If you are a subcontractor you will need to provide the notice to owners if the contract meets the requirements.