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Construction glossary

What is Retainage?

Retainage is a common practice in the construction industry where a portion of a subcontractor's payment is withheld until the project reaches substantial completion or a specific milestone. This withheld amount, typically 5-10% of each progress payment, serves as a safeguard for the project owner, ensuring that the work is completed to their satisfaction. However, retainage can significantly impact subcontractors' cash flow, as it ties up a portion of their earnings and limits their access to working capital.

This restriction on cash flow can create challenges for subcontractors, especially smaller businesses with limited financial resources. They may need to secure additional financing or lines of credit to cover ongoing expenses like labor, materials, and overhead. This can lead to increased borrowing costs and potentially reduce their profit margins. In some cases, subcontractors may even delay starting or completing work until retainage from previous projects is released, causing potential disputes.

To mitigate these challenges, subcontractors should carefully review and negotiate retainage contract terms, ensuring they fully understand the percentage withheld, release conditions, and payment schedule. Proactive financial planning, including budgeting for delayed payments and potential additional financing, is crucial for navigating the pitfalls associated with retainage.

Siteline can be a valuable tool in this process. It allows subcontractors to track retainage meticulously—ensuring they always collect retention payments—and provides a centralized repository for all closeout documentation. Additionally, Siteline streamlines the billing process, generating accurate and timely pay applications and submitting the correct lien waivers, further simplifying the complexities of retainage management.

If you're looking to gain control over your retainage tracking and improve your overall billing efficiency, book a demo with Siteline today.