Arizona Retainage Overview

Retainage serves two general purposes: (1) To provide an incentive to the contractor or subcontractor to complete the project; and (2) To give the owner some protection against problems like liens, contractual defaults, delays, and more.  In most states, laws exist to regulate how the parties use the retainage concept, mostly protecting some parties against abuse of the tool from others. The following are resources, legal information, and frequently asked questions about Arizona’s retainage requirements. The Arizona retainage statutes are reproduced below on this page.

Arizona Retainage for Private Projects FAQs

Arizona Retainage FAQs

Does Arizona limit the amount of retainage that can be withheld from a contractor?

Property owners are allowed to withhold a “reasonable amount of retention.” Owners are also allowed to withhold amounts to pay the direct expenses he/she reasonable expects to incur for needed corrective work.

How long can a party withhold retainage in Arizona?

The property owner must release retention to the contractor within 7 days after the date the billing or estimate for release of retention is certified and approved, unless otherwise specified in the contract.

Does Arizona require retained funds be deposited in a special account? Can securities be substituted for retainage?

This is not specified in the Arizona retainage statute on private projects.

How can I make a claim to recover retainage in Arizona?

This is not specified in the Arizona retainage statute on private projects.

Is there a specific notice required to recover retainage in Arizona?

Property owners are required to notify subcontractors of release of retention within five days of subcontractor’s request. On substantial completion of the work, a contractor shall submit a billing or estimate for release of retention.

Arizona Retainage for Public Projects FAQ

Arizona Retainage FAQs

Does Arizona limit the amount of retainage that can be withheld from a contractor?

The retainage rate is set at 10% of each pay estimate. After 50% of the work is completed, retainage is limited to 5% (if work is determined satisfactory). The agent may retain 10% of all estimates as a guarantee for complete performance of the contract.

How long can a party withhold retainage in Arizona?

Once 50% of the work under the contract has been completed, half of the withheld retainage must be released. Upon completion and acceptance of each separate building, public work or other division of the contract, retainage percentages must be released. Funds retained by the agent are to be paid to the contractor within 60 days after completion or filing notice of completion of the contract.

Does Arizona require retained funds be deposited in a special account? Can securities be substituted for retainage?

A Contractor may deposit securities instead of retainage. The original contractor is entitled to interest earned on securities upon final payment. If the original contractor substitutes securities for retainage, subcontractors are also allowed to do the same. Upon completion/acceptance of each separate divisible part of the contract (including separate building, or public work) payment may be made in full.

How can I make a claim to recover retainage in Arizona?

This is not specified in the Arizona retainage statute on public projects.

Is there a specific notice required to recover retainage in Arizona?

This is not specified in the Arizona retainage statute on public projects.

Arizona Retainage Statutes

Getting informed about prompt payment laws is important. An examination of Arizona’s retainage laws, the rules and regulations related to the amount and timing of allowable retained payments, is important to know your rights and responsibilities as a party on a construction project. Arizona’s specific laws can be found in: Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 32-1129.01(D)-(E), § 32-1129.01(R), § 34-221(C) and § 34-609, and are reproduced below.

Retainage Statute on Private Projects

§ 32-1129.01(D): Progress Payments by Owner; Conditions; Interest

Except as provided in subsection F of this section, a billing or estimate for a progress payment shall be deemed certified and approved fourteen days after the owner receives the billing or estimate, unless before that time the owner or the owner’s agent prepares and issues a written statement stating in reasonable detail the owner’s reasons for not certifying or approving all or a portion of the billing or estimate. The owner is deemed to have received the billing or estimate when the billing or estimate is submitted to any person designated by the owner for receipt or for certification and approval of the billing or estimate. The owner may withhold from a progress payment a reasonable amount for retention. An owner may decline to certify and approve a billing or estimate or portion of a billing or estimate for any of the following reasons:

1. Unsatisfactory job progress.

2. Defective construction work or materials not remedied.

3. Disputed work or materials.

4. Failure to comply with other material provisions of the construction contract.

5. Third party claims filed or reasonable evidence that a claim will be filed.

6. Failure of the contractor or a subcontractor to make timely payments for labor, equipment and materials.

7. Damage to the owner.

8. Reasonable evidence that the construction contract cannot be completed for the unpaid balance of the construction contract sum.

§ 32-1129.01(E): Progress Payments by Owner; Conditions; Interest

An owner may withhold from a progress payment only an amount that is sufficient to pay the direct costs and expenses the owner reasonably expects to incur to protect the owner from loss for which the contractor is responsible and that results from any reasons set forth in writing pursuant to subsection D of this section.

§ 32-1129.01(R): Progress Payments by Owner; Conditions; Interest

On the written request of a subcontractor, the owner shall notify the subcontractor within five days after the issuance of a progress payment to the contractor. On the written request of a subcontractor, the owner shall notify the subcontractor within five days after the owner releases retention or makes the final payment to the contractor on the construction contract. A subcontractor’s request pursuant to this subsection shall remain in effect for the duration of the subcontractor’s work on the project.

Retainage Statute on Public Projects

§ 34-221(C): Contract with Successful Bidder; Payments to Contractor; Security; Recovery of Damages by Contractor for Delay; Progress Payments

The terms of a contract entered into pursuant to subsection A of this section shall include the following items:

1. A surety company bond or bonds as required under this article.

2. The owner by mutual agreement may make progress payments on contracts of less than ninety days and shall make monthly progress payments on all other contracts as provided for in this paragraph. Payment to the contractor on the basis of a duly certified and approved estimate of the work performed during the preceding calendar month under such contract may include payment for material and equipment, but to ensure the proper performance of such contract, the owner shall retain ten percent of the amount of each estimate until final completion and acceptance of all material, equipment and work covered by the contract. An estimate of the work submitted shall be deemed approved and certified for payment after seven days from the date of submission unless before that time the owner or owner’s agent prepares and issues a specific written finding setting forth those items in detail in the estimate of the work that are not approved for payment under the contract. The owner may withhold an amount from the progress payment sufficient to pay the expenses the owner reasonably expects to incur in correcting the deficiency set forth in the written finding. The progress payments shall be paid on or before fourteen days after the estimate of the work is certified and approved. The estimate of the work shall be deemed received by the owner on submission to any person designated by the owner for the submission, review or approval of the estimate of the work.

3. When the contract is fifty percent completed, one-half of the amount retained including any securities substituted under paragraph 5 of this subsection shall be paid to the contractor upon the contractor’s request if the contractor is making satisfactory progress on the contract and there is no specific cause or claim requiring a greater amount to be retained. After the contract is fifty percent completed, no more than five percent of the amount of any subsequent progress payments made under the contract may be retained if the contractor is making satisfactory progress on the project, except that if at any time the owner determines satisfactory progress is not being made, ten percent retention shall be reinstated for all progress payments made under the contract subsequent to the determination.

4. Upon completion and acceptance of each separate building, public work or other division of the contract on which the price is stated separately in the contract, except as qualified in paragraph 5 of this subsection, payment may be made in full, including retained percentages thereon, less authorized deductions. In preparing estimates, the material and equipment delivered on the site to be incorporated in the job shall be taken into consideration in determining the estimated value by the architect or engineer.

5. Ten percent of all estimates shall be retained by the agent as a guarantee for complete performance of the contract, to be paid to the contractor within sixty days after completion or filing notice of completion of the contract. Retention of payments by a purchasing agency longer than sixty days after final completion and acceptance requires a specific written finding by the purchasing agency of the reasons justifying the delay in payment. No purchasing agency may retain any monies after sixty days that are in excess of the amount necessary to pay the expenses the purchasing agency reasonably expects to incur in order to pay or discharge the expenses determined by the purchasing agency in the finding justifying the retention of monies. In lieu of the retention provided in this section, the agent, at the option of the contractor, shall accept as a substitute an assignment of time certificates of deposit of banks licensed by this state, securities of or guaranteed by the United States of America, securities of this state, securities of counties, municipalities and school districts within this state or shares of savings and loan associations authorized to transact business in this state, in an amount equal to ten percent of all estimates, which shall be retained by the agent as a guarantee for complete performance of the contract. In the event the agent accepts substitute security as described in this paragraph for the ten percent retention, the contractor shall be entitled to receive all interest or income earned by such security as it accrues and all such security in lieu of retention shall be returned to the contractor by the agent within sixty days after final completion and acceptance of all material, equipment and work covered by the contract if the contractor has furnished the agent satisfactory receipts for all labor and material billed and waivers of liens from any and all persons holding claims against the work. In no event shall the agent accept a time certificate of deposit of a bank or shares of a savings and loan association in lieu of the retention specified unless accompanied by a signed and acknowledged waiver of the bank or savings and loan association of any right or power to setoff against either the agent or the contractor in relationship to the certificates or shares assigned.

6. In any instance where the agent has accepted substitute security as provided in paragraph 5 of this subsection, any subcontractor undertaking to perform any part of such public work shall be entitled to provide substitute security to the contractor upon terms and conditions similar to those described in paragraph 5 of this subsection, and such security shall be in lieu of any retention under the subcontract.

§ 34-609: Contracts for Construction-Manager-at-Risk, Design-Build and Job-Order-Contracting Construction Services; Payments to Contractor; Security; Recovery of Damages by Contractor for Delay; Progress Payments

A. An agent shall enter into a contract with the selected person or firm for construction-manager-at-risk construction services, design-build construction services or job-order-contracting construction services.

B. The terms of a contract entered into pursuant to subsection A shall include the following items:

1. A surety company bond or bonds as required by this chapter.

2. The owner by mutual agreement may make progress payments on contracts of less than ninety days and shall make monthly progress payments on all other contracts as provided for in this paragraph. Payment to the contractor on the basis of a duly certified and approved estimate of the work performed during the preceding calendar month under the contract may include payment for material and equipment, but to ensure the proper performance of the contract, the owner shall retain ten per cent of the amount of each estimate until final completion and acceptance of all material, equipment and work covered by the contract. An estimate of the work submitted shall be deemed approved and certified for payment after seven days from the date of submission unless before that time the owner or owner’s agent prepares and issues a specific written finding setting forth those items in detail in the estimate of the work that are not approved for payment under the contract. The owner may withhold an amount from the progress payment sufficient to pay the expenses the owner reasonably expects to incur in correcting the deficiency set forth in the written finding. The progress payments shall be paid on or before fourteen days after the estimate of the work is certified and approved. The estimate of the work shall be deemed received by the owner on submission to any person designated by the owner for the submission, review or approval of the estimate of the work.

3. When the contract is fifty per cent completed, one-half of the amount retained including any securities substituted under paragraph 5 shall be paid to the contractor on the contractor’s request provided the contractor is making satisfactory progress on the contract and there is no specific cause or claim requiring a greater amount to be retained. After the contract is fifty per cent completed, no more than five per cent of the amount of any subsequent progress payments made under the contract may be retained providing the contractor is making satisfactory progress on the project, except that if at any time the owner determines satisfactory progress is not being made ten per cent retention shall be reinstated for all progress payments made under the contract after the determination.

4. On completion and acceptance of each separate building, public work or other division of the contract on which the price is stated separately in the contract, except as qualified in paragraph 5, payment may be made in full, including retained percentages, less authorized deductions. In preparing estimates, the material and equipment delivered on the site to be incorporated in the job shall be taken into consideration in determining the estimated value by the architect, engineer or other person, as specified in the contract.

5. Ten per cent of all estimates shall be retained by the agent as a guarantee for complete performance of the contract, to be paid to the contractor within sixty days after completion or filing notice of completion of the contract. Retention of payments by an agent longer than sixty days after final completion and acceptance requires a specific written finding by the agent of the reasons justifying the delay in payment. No agent may retain any monies after sixty days that are in excess of the amount necessary to pay the expenses the agent reasonably expects to incur in order to pay or discharge the expenses determined by the agent in the finding justifying the retention of monies. In lieu of the retention provided in this section, the agent, at the option of the contractor, shall accept as a substitute an assignment of time certificates of deposit of banks licensed by this state, securities of or guaranteed by the United States of America, securities of this state, securities of counties, municipalities and school districts within this state or shares of savings and loan associations authorized to transact business in this state, in an amount equal to ten per cent of all estimates that are retained by the agent as a guarantee for complete performance of the contract. If the agent accepts substitute security as described in this paragraph for the ten per cent retention, the contractor is entitled to receive all interest or income earned by this security as it accrues and all such security in lieu of retention shall be returned to the contractor by the agent within sixty days after final completion and acceptance of all material, equipment and work covered by the contract if the contractor has furnished the agent satisfactory receipts for all labor and material billed and waivers of liens from any and all persons holding claims against the work. In no event shall the agent accept a time certificate of deposit of a bank or shares of a savings and loan association in lieu of the retention specified unless accompanied by a signed and acknowledged waiver of the bank or savings and loan association of any right or power to setoff against either the agent or the contractor in relationship to the certificates or shares assigned.

6. In any instance where the agent has accepted substitute security as provided in paragraph 5, any subcontractor undertaking to perform any part of this public work is entitled to provide substitute security to the contractor on terms and conditions similar to those described in paragraph 5, and this security is in lieu of any retention under the subcontract.

7. Notwithstanding paragraphs 1 through 6, any other provision of this section and any other law, there is no retention for job-order-contracting construction services contracts and the agent may elect to have no retention for construction-manager-at-risk and design-build construction services contracts.

C. No contract for construction services may materially alter the rights of any contractor, subcontractor or material supplier to receive prompt and timely payment required to be included in the contract under subsection B.

D. The contract shall be signed by the agent and the contractor.

E. A contract for the procurement of construction services shall include a provision that provides for negotiations between the agent and the contractor for the recovery of damages related to expenses incurred by the contractor for a delay for which the agent is responsible, that is unreasonable under the circumstances and that was not within the contemplation of the parties to the contract. This section shall not be construed to void any provision in the contract that requires notice of delays, provides for arbitration or other procedures for settlement or provides for liquidated damages.

F. The contractor shall pay to the contractor’s subcontractors or material suppliers and each subcontractor shall pay to the subcontractor’s subcontractor or material supplier, within seven days of receipt of each progress payment, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the parties, the respective amounts allowed the contractor or subcontractor on account of the work performed by the subcontractors, to the extent of each subcontractor’s interest, except that no contract for construction services may materially alter the rights of any contractor, subcontractor or material supplier to receive prompt and timely payment as provided under this section. The payments to subcontractors or material suppliers shall be based on payments received pursuant to this section. Any diversion by the contractor or subcontractor of payments received for work performed on a contract, or failure to reasonably account for the application or use of those payments, constitutes grounds for disciplinary action by the registrar of contractors. The subcontractor or material supplier shall notify the registrar of contractors and the agent in writing of any payment less than the amount or percentage approved for the class or item of work as set forth in this section.

G. A subcontractor may notify the agent in writing requesting that the subcontractor be notified by the agent in writing within five days from payment of each progress payment made to the contractor. The subcontractor’s request remains in effect for the duration of the subcontractor’s work on the project.

H. Nothing in this chapter prevents the contractor or subcontractor, at the time of application and certification to the owner or contractor, from withholding the application and certification to the owner or contractor for payment to the subcontractor or material supplier for unsatisfactory job progress, defective construction work or materials not remedied, disputed work or materials, third party claims filed or reasonable evidence that a claim will be filed, failure of a subcontractor to make timely payments for labor, equipment and materials, damage to the contractor or another subcontractor, reasonable evidence that the subcontract cannot be completed for the unpaid balance of the subcontract sum or a reasonable amount for retention that does not exceed the actual percentage retained by the owner.

I. If any payment to a contractor is delayed after the date due interest shall be paid at the rate of one per cent per month or fraction of a month on the unpaid balance as may be due.

J. If any periodic or final payment to a subcontractor is delayed by more than seven days after receipt of the periodic or final payment by the contractor or subcontractor, the contractor or subcontractor shall pay the subcontractor or material supplier interest, beginning on the eighth day, at the rate of one per cent per month or fraction of a month on the unpaid balance as may be due.

K. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this section, this section applies only to amounts payable in a construction services contract for construction and does not apply to amounts payable in a construction services contract for design services, preconstruction services, finance services, maintenance services, operations services and other related services.