You may also receive a lien even though you have paid the general contractor in full for the project. If this happens, it may be because the general contractor did not pay a subcontractor or business, was slow in making payments or, possibly, closed up shop and filed for bankruptcy. Regardless of the reason, the individual or business has a legal right to be paid and can file claim on your property for the amount owed.
Making the homeowner pay twice for the work completed may seem unfair. But the homeowner, because he benefits from the improvements, is ultimately held responsibility for the debts. If you do end up paying twice - once to the general contractor and again to settle the lien - you have the right to file suit against the contractor to recover your costs.