Making sense of Texas Retainage Notices

So the law reads that your “Notice of Retainage Agreement” must be served not later than the earlier of:

The 30th day after the claimant’s agreement providing for retainage is completed, abandoned or terminated. or the 30th day after the date the original contract is terminated or abandoned.

So what is being implied:

  1. The owner of the property will comply with the law and retain 10% of the monies as proposed in the General Contractor’s Contract.
  2. If you are the original contractor and possible a first or second tier subcontractor or materials supplier, you are automatically subject to this retainage condition.
    1. To further protect your earnings, it may be wise to have your client sign a contract which includes a retainage agreement which stipulates the exact amount you are agreeing to have withheld until retainage is due and payable.
  3. To be in compliance with the time allowed for you to serve a “Notice of Contractual Retainage” you must be aware of when you finish on the job and also when the general contractor finishes on the job. If you finish before the general, then you have 30 days from the date you finish to serve your notice. However, should the general contractor complete the project before you. (This may be theoretically impossible. But there could be a situation where your work may include some punch list items being addressed after the general has already signed off on the job.)

In either case the best strategy is to serve your “Notice of Contractual Retainage” as soon as you start. In Texas, the amount to be retained is 10% and you should be able to determine this amount on the day you start. So why wait, and run the risk of missing the opportunity to protect your Retainage? This could be your whole profit or a large part of it. To have it victimized by missing a due date is ridiculous. Keep in mind, the timelines listed above are deadlines. There is nothing to prevent you from serving earlier.

Keep in mind! The unpaid balance due you for the 90% of the work is separate from the 10% withheld retainage amount. You may NOT include retainage in a mechanics lien for the unpaid balances earned through the base contract, unless you are able to file a mechanics lien after all terms have been satisfied and all or part of your contract remains unpaid. However, should the terms for the retainage be unsatisfied at the time to bring your mechanics lien forward, you will need to file a mechanics lien for the unpaid contract and upon satisfaction of the terms for the retainage agreement, perhaps a second mechanics lien for the unpaid retainage

Don’t let your Retainage be compromised. You will need to serve this notice to protect your Retainage. So better to act sooner than later.

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