It’s Wise Up Wednesday! Don’t Get Angry Get Paid

How To Get Paid As A Specialist Contractor

This week’s “Wise Up Wednesday” is about a topic close to every Specialist Contractor’s heart; Getting Paid.

If you don’t get paid your business fails. It’s that simple.

Ask any insolvency practitioner and they will confirm that lots of otherwise profitable businesses fail because they don’t collect what’s owed to them.

construction contractor not paying subcontractor, how to get paid

Of course actually getting paid is sometimes easier said than done, and it’s one of the problems StreetwiseSubbie are most commonly asked to help our members with – and one which I have personally been advising Specialist Contractors about for the last 29 years.

So, don’t get angry, get paid, by understanding these key points;

  • The payment provisions of a contract should be clearly established and fully understood
  • Prior to the Construction Act (where it applies) you had no automatic right to interim payments, and no payment notices, no suspension, no adjudication etc., so despite it being a bit complicated the Act is good news for Specialist Contractors
  • Most standard form contracts have provisions entitling you to interim payments, with clear rules set out as to how these should be calculated and when they should be made

So, first things first please make sure you understand the contract and whether or not it complies with the Act.

Be aware that the Construction Act does not apply to all contracts, there are certain types of project to which the Act does not apply, these include supply only contracts, process industry and power generation sites etc. (a full list is set out in the Act and you can download a copy from our web site)

Understanding The Rules Is Crucial

Unless the Act applies or the contract provides for it, there is no common law right to suspension of the works in the event of non-payment’ therefore, unless there is an express provision in the contract, or the Act applies you will be in breach of contract by stopping work.

Don’t do it. It is a recipe for disaster! Please call our helpline on 01773 712116 instead.

But, if you’re certain the terms of your contract provide the right of suspension, and you meet the right criteria (we can advise about all that), then suspension can be the most effective weapon in the fight to get paid.

What Does The Act Say?

The Act and in particular the 2011 amendments introduced some key rules about payment;

  • Contracts are required to be clearly establish the “Due Date” and “Final Date for Payment” – confusingly the Due Date isn’t when the money is due to be paid, but the Final Date is the last date by which you must be paid
  • The Act does not preclude lengthy timescales. Do not just accept them – negotiate!
  • The contract must also provide for Payment Notices to be issued by the paying party, and if they are not provided there are favourable default provisions

But, watch out because most Contractors will try and bend the rules in their favour by way of their own terms or amendments to the Standard forms such as JCT and NEC/3

Speaking Of Different Rules

Watch out for contracts that are completely different from the norm. For example, most large Contractors will have their own onerous terms, and the NEC/3 is so different from any other contract that you will have used previously it is a real challenge.

Please don’t ignore the problems that onerous payment terms will create for you as a subcontractor, and please get advice from the outset, because it really will save you a fortune.

I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

In the meantime if you need any help with any of your business issues,including getting paid please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call on 01773 712116.

P.S. Please don’t lose your entitlement to be paid properly. Every day we are helping Specialist Contractors, Trade Contractors and Subcontractors just like you to get paid. Email us on, or give our friendly team a call on 01773 712116.

Share this


Become a Streetwise Buddy

Construction’s a tough place to do business right now, and Specialist Contractors need all the help you can get. That’s why you will find our resources and expertise are invaluable, whatever the size of your business and whatever your specialisation. We’re here to help you solve all your business problems, including the crucially important contractual ones, such as getting paid.

What Our Buddies Say ...

  • /

streetwisesubbie Ltd
17 Ilkeston Road
DE75 7DR

Helpline: +44 (0)1773 712116