Retainage 101: What Contractors Must Know

what is a retainage fee

It’s also helpful to familiarize yourself with your state’s retention laws to know if the retention clause is legal. Contractors must apply for a lien prematurely and risk souring relations with the owner. If there is a delay in payment, they may be unable to buy new materials or pay employees. Variable retention is when the retention percentage is different for different project stages. It’s different from an employee retention contract, which is a contract designed to incentivize an employee to stay with a company. Retainage may be looked at by some as an outdated practice, yet it remains in place and is viewed by many as a necessary evil of the construction business.

what is a retainage fee

What Is Retainage in Construction (& Why Is It Important)?

what is a retainage fee

That way, your invoices will be accurate and timely, so you should receive payments without delay. Before you sign a construction contract, ensure you understand the retainage amount and when you will receive it. Below are some tips to help you mitigate the adverse effects of retention in contracts and receive payment faster. The project will be completed in six stages, with 15% retainage applied to the first three stages and 5% to the final three stages (for a project average of 10%). Fixed retention is when the same amount of money is withheld from each payment.

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  • On top of that, it can take years for subcontractors to receive their retainage payments.
  • There are two main alternatives owners or general contractors typically request in lieu of holding retainage on a construction contract.
  • It’s common for contractors to have high amounts withheld from them (even when it’s limited!), and to have that money withheld for a very long time.
  • The truth is that retainage has remained a legacy practice of a construction era long forgotten.
  • Others might require reimbursement to be made in a set number of days after final approval.

Because stock compensation disclosure issues aren’t broadly pervasive for private companies, PCC members agreed to focus on the most pressing topics that private companies want the council to address. If the difference in the present value of the cash flows is less than 10%, the transaction is accounted for as a modification of the original debt. When debt is modified, no gain or loss is recognized, and any new fees paid to, or received from, the existing lender are capitalized and amortized.

How to Calculate Retainage in Construction

Lawyers are ethically bound to return any unused portion of a client’s retainer fees. If you are unsure if your retainer is exhausted, you can ask your lawyer for an itemized invoice listing all of the work that they have performed. Each state has different rules for handling unused retainers, so if you suspect you are owed a refund, you should consult your local bar association to determine the correct procedures. Earned retainer fees are the portion of the retainer that the lawyer is entitled to after work begins. Earned retainer fees may be granted to the lawyer bit by bit, depending on the number of hours worked.

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Say a party on a construction project won’t release their retainage payment to you. In contrast, retention payable funds consist of money that the contractor is obligated to pay subcontractors for retainage. For a contractor, retention receivable construction funds consist of money that the contractor is owed by the property owner upon completion of a project.

Finally, when parties have agreed to retainage, it is vital that general and subcontractors plan for less upfront income throughout the project. Though retained monies will eventually be released, a cash crunch will likely be felt in the short term. Clients may include these requirements in the contract to ensure that they are satisfied with the final product. If a chunk of work has retainage in construction not been finished or has been completed erroneously, retainage may be withheld after the project is completed. Having competent accounting software in your business toolset can make a big difference when it comes to retainage and other financial management. You may track spending, income, and cash flow with QuickBooks Online and get precise financial information about your company.

A satisfied contract, however, doesn’t mean retained money will hit your bank account as soon as the project ends. Project owners must confirm that no rework is needed, punch-list items must be finalized, and owners must make good on their promise of timely payments. From there, the payment chain takes its course–owners issue payments to GCs, who then issue payments to their subcontractors and so forth. Subcontractors tend to have more negative issues with retainage than contractors. They are almost always on hand for only specific portions of a project.

  • Substantial completion could have specific items which might need to be met to happen like a permanent certificate of occupancy.
  • Retainage protects clients, but it can create hardships for contractors or subcontractors, who may struggle to pay their own bills because of having to wait longer to receive payment.
  • If the construction has used materials from your subcontractors, those materials should have a warranty.
  • They are almost always on hand for only specific portions of a project.
  • With a retainage bond, the project owner has an insurance plan against poor performance, and contractors can avoid the financial harm of withheld funds.
  • Rates can decrease as a reward for on-time or ahead-of-schedule completion.

Retainer methods can and have been used by clients to avoid making payments. They must declare that retainage will be released at particular milestones and the consequences of not doing so. These caps do not apply to private projects, although contractors will typically reject projects with troublesome retainage language. This frequently pushes private projects to follow industry rates to some extent. There is a retention clause in construction contracts that describes the amount that is retained, along with when and how will this withheld amount be paid back to the contractor. Withdrawing retainage in construction is not forbidden in Australia, so owners have all rights to withhold retention.

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