(a) Except as provided in (b) of this subsection, public improvement contracts must provide, and public bodies must reserve, a contract retainage not to exceed five percent of the moneys earned by the contractor as a trust fund for the protection and payment of:
(i) The claims of any person arising under the contract; and
(ii) the state with respect to taxes, increases, and penalties imposed pursuant to Titles 50, 51, and 82 RCW which may be due from such contractor.
(b) Public improvement contracts funded in whole or in part by federal transportation funds must rely upon the contract bond as referred to in chapter 39.08 RCW for the protection and payment of:
(i) The claims of any person or persons arising under the contract to the extent such claims are provided for in RCW 39.08.010; and
(ii) the state with respect to taxes, increases, and penalties incurred on the public improvement project under Titles 50, 51, and 82 RCW which may be due. The contract bond must remain in full force and effect until, at a minimum, all claims filed in compliance with chapter 39.08 RCW are resolved.
(2) Every person performing labor or furnishing supplies toward the completion of a public improvement contract has a lien upon moneys reserved by a public body under the provisions of a public improvement contract. However, the notice of the lien of the claimant must be given within forty-five days of completion of the contract work, and in the manner provided in RCW 39.08.030.
(3) The contractor at any time may request the contract retainage be reduced to one hundred percent of the value of the work remaining on the project.
(a) After completion of all contract work other than landscaping, the contractor may request that the public body release and pay in full the amounts retained during the performance of the contract, and sixty days thereafter the public body must release and pay in full the amounts retained (other than continuing retention of five percent of the moneys earned for landscaping) subject to the provisions of chapter 39.12 RCW and this chapter.
(b) Sixty days after completion of all contract work the public body must release and pay in full the amounts retained during the performance of the contract subject to the provisions of chapter 39.12 RCW and this chapter.
(4) The moneys reserved by a public body under the provisions of a public improvement contract, at the option of the contractor, must be:
(a) Retained in a fund by the public body;
(b) Deposited by the public body in an interest bearing account in a bank, mutual savings bank, or savings and loan association. Interest on moneys reserved by a public body under the provision of a public improvement contract must be paid to the contractor;
(c) Placed in escrow with a bank or trust company by the public body. When the moneys reserved are placed in escrow, the public body must issue a check representing the sum of the moneys reserved payable to the bank or trust company and the contractor jointly. This check must be converted into bonds and securities chosen by the contractor and approved by the public body and the bonds and securities must be held in escrow. Interest on the bonds and securities must be paid to the contractor as the interest accrues.
(5) The contractor or subcontractor may withhold payment of not more than five percent from the moneys earned by any subcontractor or sub-subcontractor or supplier contracted with by the contractor to provide labor, materials, or equipment to the public project. Whenever the contractor or subcontractor reserves funds earned by a subcontractor or sub-subcontractor or supplier, the contractor or subcontractor must pay interest to the subcontractor or sub-subcontractor or supplier at a rate equal to that received by the contractor or subcontractor from reserved funds.
(6) A contractor may submit a bond for all or any portion of the contract retainage in a form acceptable to the public body and from an authorized surety insurer. The public body may require that the authorized surety have a minimum A.M. Best financial strength rating so long as that minimum rating does not exceed A-. The public body must comply with the provisions of RCW 48.28.010. At any time prior to final formal acceptance of the project, a subcontractor may request the contractor to submit a bond to the public owner for that portion of the contractor’s retainage pertaining to the subcontractor in a form acceptable to the public body and from a bonding company meeting standards established by the public body. The contractor may withhold the subcontractor’s portion of the bond premium. Within thirty days of receipt of the request, the contractor shall provide and the public body shall accept a bond meeting these requirements unless the public body can demonstrate good cause for refusing to accept it, the bond is not commercially available, or the subcontractor refuses to pay the subcontractor’s portion of the bond premium and to provide the contractor with a like bond. The contractor’s bond and any proceeds therefrom are subject to all claims and liens and in the same manner and priority as set forth for retained percentages in this chapter. The public body must release the bonded portion of the retained funds to the contractor within thirty days of accepting the bond from the contractor. Whenever a public body accepts a bond in lieu of retained funds from a contractor, the contractor must accept like bonds from any subcontractors or suppliers from which the contractor has retained funds. The contractor must then release the funds retained from the subcontractor or supplier to the subcontractor or supplier within thirty days of accepting the bond from the subcontractor or supplier.
(7) If the public body administering a contract, after a substantial portion of the work has been completed, finds that an unreasonable delay will occur in the completion of the remaining portion of the contract for any reason not the result of a breach thereof, it may, if the contractor agrees, delete from the contract the remaining work and accept as final the improvement at the stage of completion then attained and make payment in proportion to the amount of the work accomplished and in this case any amounts retained and accumulated under this section must be held for a period of sixty days following the completion. In the event that the work is terminated before final completion as provided in this section, the public body may thereafter enter into a new contract with the same contractor to perform the remaining work or improvement for an amount equal to or less than the cost of the remaining work as was provided for in the original contract without advertisement or bid. The provisions of this chapter are exclusive and supersede all provisions and regulations in conflict herewith.
(8) Whenever the department of transportation has contracted for the construction of two or more ferry vessels, sixty days after completion of all contract work on each ferry vessel, the department must release and pay in full the amounts retained in connection with the construction of the vessel subject to the provisions of RCW 60.28.021 and chapter 39.12 RCW. However, the department of transportation may at its discretion condition the release of funds retained in connection with the completed ferry upon the contractor delivering a good and sufficient bond with two or more sureties, or with a surety company, in the amount of the retained funds to be released to the contractor, conditioned that no taxes may be certified or claims filed for work on the ferry after a period of sixty days following completion of the ferry; and if taxes are certified or claims filed, recovery may be had on the bond by the department of revenue, the employment security department, the department of labor and industries, and the material suppliers and laborers filing claims.
(9) Except as provided in subsection (1) of this section, reservation by a public body for any purpose from the moneys earned by a contractor by fulfilling its responsibilities under public improvement contracts is prohibited.
(10) Contracts on projects funded in whole or in part by farmers home administration and subject to farmers home administration regulations are not subject to subsections (1) through (9) of this section.
(11) This subsection applies only to a public body that has contracted for the construction of a facility using the general contractor/construction manager procedure, as defined under RCW 39.10.210. If the work performed by a subcontractor on the project has been completed within the first half of the time provided in the general contractor/construction manager contract for completing the work, the public body may accept the completion of the subcontract. The public body must give public notice of this acceptance. After a forty-five day period for giving notice of liens, and compliance with the retainage release procedures in RCW 60.28.021, the public body may release that portion of the retained funds associated with the subcontract. Claims against the retained funds after the forty-five day period are not valid.
(12) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(a) “Contract retainage” means an amount reserved by a public body from the moneys earned by a person under a public improvement contract.
(b) “Person” means a person or persons, mechanic, subcontractor, or materialperson who performs labor or provides materials for a public improvement contract, and any other person who supplies the person with provisions or supplies for the carrying on of a public improvement contract.
(c) “Public body” means the state, or a county, city, town, district, board, or other public body.
(d) “Public improvement contract” means a contract for public improvements or work, other than for professional services, or a work order as defined in RCW 39.10.210.
Washington Retainage FAQs
Summary of Washington Retainage requirements and laws for Washington construction projects including free forms, FAQs, resources and more.
Scott Wolfe Jr.