In This Age of Tight Cash Flow, Remember to Properly Perfect Your Payment Claims
It’s no secret that cash is tight these days and unfortunately that translates into payment problems on many jobs, including high-profile public projects. Don’t fall into the trap of overconfidence in your ability to get paid based solely on history or good relations with your customers. Owners, contractors and subcontractors alike are all feeling the pinch of reduced work, higher collateral requirements for bonding and rising insurance costs, just to name a few. That customer with whom you’ve worked well for years may be experiencing serious cash problems of which you aren’t aware, leaving you to hold the bag if you haven’t properly perfected your claims while on the job.
Whenever a claim for payment of additional money arises, whether by unsigned change order, delays, unforeseen site conditions, or otherwise, immediately review your contract to determine your notice requirements. Many contracts require written notice of the claim within a specified deadline, containing specified details and mailed in a specified manner to specified individuals. Failure to comply may deprive you of entitlement to payment.
Make sure you send a Notice to Owner or, if the job is bonded, a Notice to Contractor within 45 days of your first day of work on the job to preserve you ability to perfect lien or bond claims within 90 days of your last day of work if necessary.
Always watch out for circumstances whereby notices like these must be served and don’t refrain from doing so simply because you’ve worked for years with your good customer. These types of notices don’t harm anyone, don’t suggest any distrust and aren’t antagonistic. But if you fail to send them and cash on the job dries up before you’re paid, you can never go back and you may be left out in the rain.