Swinerton is one of the largest general contractors in the US. For subcontractors considering a project with the GC — or those already on the job — this guide will help you understand Swinerton’s history, prequalification process, and payment practices that you need to know. You’ll hear what other subcontractors have to say about the contracting giant — and we’ll share tips to get paid on every Swinerton project.
Charles Lindgren, an industrious Swedish immigrant, founded the Lindgren Brick Masonry Company in 1888 in Los Angeles. In 1908, the Lindgren company was incorporated in San Francisco by Charles and his brother Fred. Not long after, Alfred Swinerton joined the Lindgren Company as Vice President in 1913.
World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II brought with them immense challenges, but Lindgren Swinerton soldiered on and found room to innovate. They erected San Francisco’s first high rise building in 1925, and helped on the home front with a flurry of defense projects in 1941.
The prosperous post-WW2 climate allowed the construction company to build countless leisure projects that signaled a return to normalcy for the nation.
Since the challenges of the early 20th century and the unprecedented growth that we saw in the late 20th century, Swinerton (as we know them today) has become one of the largest and most successful general contracting companies in the United States.
Swinerton boasted a revenue of $4.6 billion in 2019 and sits in 18th place on the ENR Top 400 Contractors list for 2020.
Swinerton occupies several key construction markets thanks to their history and expertise that spans over a century, including:
- Affordable housing
- Community colleges
- Corporate accounts
- Critical facilities
- Higher education
- K-12 education
- Mass timber
- Native American
- Parking structures
- Renewable energy
- Science + technology
- Special projects
Swinerton has a diverse project portfolio that reflects their years in the industry. Here are a few notable Swinerton projects:
- University of California Riverside Student Success Center — Riverside, CA
- MedImpact Office Building — San Diego, CA
- Hilton Wakiloa Dolphin Quest — Wakiloa, HI
- Impac Companies Data Center — Irvine, CA
- LAX Air Traffic Control Tower — Los Angeles, CA
The sub-categories of these skill sets include:
- 3D modeling and laser scanning
- Robot technology
- Clean up
- Program management
- Project management
- Construction management
Swinerton has offices and operations all over the United States. You can find a Swinerton office in:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Charlotte, NC
- Concord, CA
- Dallas, TX
- Denver, CO
- Honolulu, HI
- Los Angeles, CA
- New York City, NY
- Oakland, CA
- Portland, OR
- Sacramento, CA
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Santa Ana, CA
- Santa Clara, CA
- Seattle, WA
- Spokane, WA
Now that you’ve been introduced to Swinerton’s company history, let’s take a look at their payment history. The next section covers prequalifying Swinerton before you work with them.
Before working with Swinerton
You should always prequalify new general contractors before you reach out to them. Going through this process allows you to get a feel for how the company handles their finances, interacts with their subcontractors, and how their previous subcontractors view their experience with them.
To prequalify Swinerton, go through the following five steps:
- Review the contractor’s payment history
- Look at their credit history
- Dig through a sample subcontract
- Read subcontractor reviews
- Learn their payment process
If you find a red flag, don’t hesitate to reach out to Swinerton for some context. Opening the dialogue like this gives you an opportunity to gauge how much they value communication and transparency with their subcontractors and suppliers.
When you’re prequalifying a general contractor, you’re looking for more than just blips in their payment and credit history. You’re looking for qualities that show you they can effectively manage the project. Good communication with their subcontractor team is an essential part of that.
Swinerton’s Payment Profile
You can start prequalification on the payment profile for Swinerton Builders. Levelset’s Payment profiles are a good place to start when you’re researching any general contractor because they compile useful information that would be difficult to find otherwise.
The first metric you’ll notice on Swinerton’s payment profile is their pay score. Swinerton has a pay score of 75/100, leaving them with a C Rating. Pay score is used to indicate how quickly or slowly a general contractor makes payments compared to other GCs. Levelset compared Swinerton’s recent payment history with the payment histories of tens of thousands of other general contractors to calculate their payment score.
You can also use Swinerton’s payment profile to read reviews from subcontractors who have worked with them in the past.
32 subcontractors took the time to review Swinerton, and they gave the company a total of 4.3 stars out of 5. Seven subcontractors left written reviews, the majority of which are positive.
Here are a few of the most recent 5 star reviews:
- “Easy process, fast pay, fair policy”
- “Nice people, project went well, payment was as agreed, including retainage”
- “Swinerton Builders are one of our favorite GCs to work with in California. Although they are big, they are very communicative and make the information and forms I need readily available for when we collect payment.”
Here is the single negative subcontractor review:
After reading through a general contractor’s reviews, the best next step is to look at their payment history.
Recent payment disputes
Swinerton’s profile also lists the GC’s recent payment disputes. Levelset has data on 3188 recent Swinerton projects.
Since January of 2020, there have been 17 mechanics lien filings on projects that Swinerton has participated in. 15 of those 17 liens were filed by claimants who were directly hired by Swinerton, and each one of them is still active as of this writing.
It’s difficult to gauge a general contractor’s payment history based on numbers alone. Take a thorough look at each payment dispute to get as much context as possible.
Sample Subcontractor Agreements from Swinerton
Apart from their payment profile, you can find useful prequalification information on Swinerton’s website. Look through Subcontractor Sample Agreements here to find out what your terms while working with Swinerton may look like.
Get prequalified to work with Swinerton
After you browse Swinerton’s payment profile and decide you’d like to move forward, you need to get prequalified. Prequalification with Swinerton should be a quick and painless process if you have all the required information in front of you and ready to go.
Swinerton includes some extremely useful information about subcontractor prequalification on their website. Simply go to the Subcontractors page and click on the Subcontractor Prequalification button to find it.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to compile all the information you need to get prequalified. Swinerton requires the following from new subcontractors:
- A current financial statement
- A letter confirming your bonding capacity
- OSHA forms 300 and 300A
- An insurance certificate
- Your 3-year ENR history
- Any certifications your company has
- A letter from your bank or financial institution confirming your line of credit
- Your W-9
After you gather all the required information in one place, you need to do the following to submit it to Swinerton.
You’ll need to fill out the online application by filling in your FEIN and Tax ID, your name and address, contact information, union information, and your D&B number or Paydex number.
Follow this link to the online application if you’ve never worked with Swinerton before.
If you’re a returning subcontractor, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to create a password to renew your prequalification.
Swinerton’s payment process
Swinerton’s payment process shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary if you’re familiar with the AIA billing process. This section goes through the four phases of payment with a large general contractor: before you step foot on the project, applying for your first payment, applying for progress payments, and applying for final payments.
Before work starts
Before work on the project can begin, you will most likely need to send some additional information. This could include:
- Insurance certificates
- Your W-9
- Any bonding information related to the project
- A signed copy of the subcontract
If you need to provide anything outside of that, your Swinerton project manager will let you know.
Your contract with Swinerton will define the deadline for pay applications. Common deadlines include the 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th of each month.
Make sure you fill out your pay application completely and that the information you include is 100% accurate.
Progress payments are ideal for subcontractors and general contractors because they help regulate cash flow on a project and keep everyone updated on a project’s progress.
Final payment with a general contractor like Swinerton means it’s time for project close-out. Project close-out involves several documents and some boring administrative work, but with enough preparation it should go by quickly and painlessly. Close-out frequently involves documents like:
- Punch lists
- Certificates of occupancy
- Certificates of substantial completion
- Inspection certificates
- Lien waivers
- Your final pay app
Go through Swinerton’s close-out process carefully, and make sure you submit each requested document. Otherwise, you could face payment delays or other headaches.
3 tips to get paid with Swinerton
No matter how reliable or communicative a general contractor is, there’s always a risk for nonpayment or slow payment in the construction industry. The laws that regulate the construction industry are complex, and there are a lot of moving parts to each construction project.
To give yourself the maximum payment protection, do these three things for each and every project you work on:
- Send preliminary notices on every job. Preliminary notices let everyone on the project know who you are and what kind of work you’re providing. This alone makes the payment process a lot easier for everyone involved.
Furthermore, preliminary notices are often required by state law, and failure to send one could leave you with zero recovery options if you go unpaid.
- Send other visibility documents. Visibility documents improve communication on construction projects. They can include demand letters, invoice reminders, and notices of intent to lien when necessary.
Visibility documents are not legally binding, meaning they’re easy to send. At that, they have the potential to jog the paying party’s memory and spur a payment with no additional action required.
- Protect your mechanics lien rights. Lastly, and most importantly, you need to preserve your right to file a mechanics lien. Mechanics liens are extremely effective debt collection tools that are filed with the county clerk.
Because a mechanics lien can result in a lawsuit, you need to meet some your state’s rules in order to file one. These requirements vary between states, but they usually involve sending the correct notices, meeting the required deadlines, and maintaining a license for the work you perform over the course of the project.