For subcontractors, signing onto a PCL Construction project may feel like your business is financially set. But winning the contract is one thing; getting paid for it requires a lot of work behind the scenes. In an industry with slow, unpredictable payments, subcontractors need to understand the steps they can take to collect payments faster — whether you’re working for the biggest GC in the country, or the smallest. This is a subcontractor’s guide to working with PCL Construction, with resources to help them get paid faster on every job.
About PCL Construction
PCL Construction is a major general contractor made up of independent construction companies that carries work in Canada, North America, the Caribbean, and Australia. With North American headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta, PCL Construction also holds a U.S. head office in Denver, CO. One of the largest general contractors in the US, PCL ranks #9 on the Engineering News Record’s Top 400 Contractors List for 2019.
Aside from Denver, PCL’s 16 additional U.S. offices also include:
- Grand Forks
- Lake Charles
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Orange County
- San Diego
Some of PCL Construction’s most common markets are buildings, heavy industrial, and civil infrastructure. The company also touts that its annual construction volume is $9B while actively being involved in other 1,000 projects at any one time.
PCL Construction’s market expertise is vast, including aviation, commercial/retail, convention centers, government and military facilities, sports complexes, and more. PCL’s services also include bonding capacity/insurance, heavy industrial modular construction, pre-construction, the supply of construction equipment, and more.
Before Working with PCL Construction
Before ever stepping foot on a job site or signing a contract with PCL Construction or any other GC, subcontractors should always prequalify the general contractor.
To prequalify a GC, subcontractors can follow 5 basic steps:
- Review their payment history on past projects
- Obtain a copy of the GC’s credit history
- Get feedback and read reviews from other subs that have worked with the GC
- Inquire about the GC’s payment process
- Request a sample subcontract from the GC for review
According to their Payment Profile, PCL Construction has a “Low” payment score and at least 25 instances have been recently reported of either slow payment, threatened mechanics lien filings, or filed mechanics liens against them.
Overall, subcontractors give PCL Construction a rating of 3.2 out of 5 stars, with wildly mixed reviews. One subcontractor gave the GC a 1-star review, saying simply, “Dishonest, unethical, bullies.” Another 1-star review of PCL Construction states, “PCL Construction is in first payment default and unresponsive to collection calls to discuss payment. Unsatisfactory.” However, a 5-star review of the GC paints a different picture: “Pay on time every time.”
The company actively looks to retain subcontractors and other business associates with long-lasting working relationships. As stated on PCL Construction’s Partners in Building page, “We continuously look for innovative ways to add value to clients, consultants, subcontractors, and partners by reducing costs, shortening schedules, and providing a safe workplace, resulting in long-term relationships built on trust and transparency.”
Recent Payment Disputes
As of June 11, 2020, the GC is facing at least three mechanics lien claims filed against them in both New Jersey and Florida, totaling over $3 million in unpaid construction work to three different subs.
$1.7M+ claims in New Jersey
Two contractors have filed mechanics liens against PCL Construction for work on a $5B makeover project at the American Dream retail-entertainment complex in East Rutherford, NJ. the job site, located at 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ, consists of a shopping center, three indoor theme parks, 450 tenants, and a dozen of other attractions.
The two claims total $1,729,660.06 in unpaid construction work to two different subs on the same job site. Both liens listed PCL Construction’s Orlando, FL branch as the GC.
Subcontractor Steven Lombardi Construction filed the largest known claim against PCL Construction at American Dream on June 4, 2020, with a lien valued at $1,655,972.76, which is 12% of the subcontractor’s contract with PCL.
Another sub, Advanced Products, LLC, is still owed $73,687.30 for their contributions to a water park at the American Dream. Advanced Products’ lien was filed on June 11, 2020.
$1.2M claim in Florida
As of April 29, 2020, at least one contractor claims they are owed $1,270,628.47 from PCL Construction following the construction of a JW Marriott in Orlando, FL.
The subcontractor, Kenpat Central Florida, LLC, contributed metal framing, insulation, non-structural framing, and drywall to the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa located at 14900 Chelonia Pkwy, Orlando, FL.
PCL Construction’s Payment Process for Subcontractors
While PCL Construction includes a Partners in Building page, they do not publish documents for subs to access about the prequalification process or to learn more about payment processes.
PCL Construction states that their “family of companies has a wealth of resources to help you make well-informed business decisions.” The resources include:
PCL Orlando’s Manager of Business Development, Charlie Dorr, stated that subcontractors must submit the following information that is reviewed by PCL’s estimating department:
- Surety bonding letter that outlines bonding capacity per project
- Audited financial statements from the previous two years
- A completed pre-qualification form
- Insurance letter or NCCI
- Experience modification rating (EMR) from the past 3 years
- Insurance certificate
- Health and safety policy/procedures
- Any additional information requested by a PCL estimating office
“Our estimating department manages our prequalification process just to get company information and where [the subcontractor] fits in our system and which specifications you provide,” said Dorr. “When we have new work opportunities come up, we include you in a blast of emails or phone calls that say, ‘this is what we’re looking at, does this fit you guys, does it make sense,’ and then you can engage if you want to or not.”
Dorr also shared PCL Construction’s mandatory subcontractor default insurance (SDI), stating, “We have a mandatory subcontractor default program that can roll in further financials. We’ll review this and other information about the subcontractor to determine what volume of work they’ll be eligible for and the type of work.”
Furthermore, a PCL representative from the GC’s U.S. head office in Denver, CO explained PCL’s process for pre-qualifying subs, stating, “We have an email address and our estimators take a look at [the subcontractor’s] information and they forward it to the appropriate party.”
The email addresses subs can submit their initial information to include:
NOTE: PCL’s estimating and inquiries email addresses follow the same format for each market you wish to speak with. Example: [Market]Estimating@pcl.com
Before the Job Begins
Before you begin a job with PCL, Dorr states that subcontractors will typically be responsible for completing and sending the following information:
- Any bonds related to the project
- Proof of insurance
- Must carry SDI
- Completed W-9 form
Applying for Your First Payment
A great way to ensure you’re getting paid on time during a project is to provide complete and accurate payment applications. Like many large GCs, PCL Construction uses AIA billing forms. These forms include:
Subs are required to submit a payment application by the 20th of each month.
- Read advice from an Architect on getting your pay applications approved faster
- Download a checklist of documents to include with a payment application
Applying for Progress Payments
According to PCL Construction’s sample contract, the following is needed to request subsequent progress payments:
- Pay Application
- A most recent Schedule of Values
Applying for Final Payment
PCL’s subcontractors can request final payment after submitting a final payment application and any requested close-out documents.
Any additional documentation may be requested by a PCL Construction Project Administrator.
3 Subcontractor Tips to Get Paid on PCL Projects
PCL Construction’s outreach in North America and Australia makes them a powerhouse GC with plenty of upsides at first glance for subcontractors. However, working with any GC can potentially lead to slow payment or non-payment, which makes PCL Construction no different than most.
Considering PCL Construction’s recent payment disputes that top at least $3M, subcontractors run a risk of suffering from slow payment or non-payment. Here are three tips for subs to use when looking to get paid on not just PCL Construction projects, but most construction projects in general.
Send Preliminary Notices
A preliminary notice is a document used on construction projects that provides clarity to the higher-ups (GC’s or property owner) about who your company is and also about the work being performed. Furthermore, a preliminary notice can also be used to provide the GC or the property owner with your company’s accounts receivable information. This can potentially speed up the payment process, as the GC won’t have to scramble to find your AR information come payday.
Preliminary notices can also protect a contractor’s right to file a mechanics lien or make a bond claim if they are unpaid in states that require preliminary notice documents to be filed before working on the job.
Double Check Lien Waivers with a Construction Attorney
Before signing a waiver or release, especially on PCL Construction jobs, you must carefully review the waiver language so you fully understand what you are agreeing to. If you don’t understand the form, consult an experienced construction attorney.
Protect Your Mechanics Lien Rights
Subs must always stay mindful of their mechanics lien requirements and deadlines in the state they work in. This will help protect a sub’s payment rights when they experience non-payment from a GC or property owner.
In some cases, a sub may trust a GC’s or property owner’s promise to pay – and then lose their lien rights. These false promises could leave a subcontractor powerless if they waited past their mechanics lien window to file. To avoid this, always file a lien against the property when payment is late, which is your legal right.