Any person who performs or furnishes labor or professional design or surveying services, or furnishes materials or rental equipment pursuant to a contract with a real property owner for the purposes of improvements on the lands has the right to file a lien claim. But there are requirements that must be met for sub-contractors to retain their lien rights. North Carolina lien laws are tricky and you may want to consider consultation with an expert in order to ensure compliance at each stage.
The mechanics lien must be filed after the debt becomes due but within 120 days from the date of last furnishing of labor or materials. There is no real deadline for a claim upon funds, but the claim should be filed as soon as possible in order to ensure there is a sufficient holdback to cover the funds being claimed.