Wise Up Wednesday: Another Day another Set Off…!

The title of your Wise Up Wednesday this week is derived from the fact that almost every day another Specialist Contractor contacts us to get our help because his account has been clobbered by the Contractor or one of the big Specialist Contractors they are working for.

Set Off and Payless Notices are the weapons of choice of today’s Contractors, and they can be pretty devastating for your business!

As a Specialist Subcontractor you will often find that your works are not being valued properly by the QS throughout the course of the job. But, this “undervaluation” pales into insignificance when it comes close to the last or penultimate payment.

That’s when you are ripe to be clobbered! You’ve done the work (or at least the vast majority of it), the Contractor owes you a tidy sum, (because his undervaluation has been mounting up), and that’s when you are most vulnerable.

As a Sub-Contractor getting paid at this point could mean the difference between survival and insolvency!

So Why Do Some Get Paid and Some Don’t?

Here are a few thoughts based on 28 years of resolving payment problems for Subbies;

  • Follow the rules in the contract!
  • Do not be persuaded not to send delay notices!
  • Make sure you prepare and submit proper records!
  • Know the dates your payments are due and make the Contractor aware that you know.
  • Make sure that all applications are in on time and comply with the contract
  • Contact the Contractor before the payment is due to make certain they know when you are expecting payment
  • Make sure the Contractor knows that;if payment is late, you will suspend your works in accordance with your contract, or if he pays less than he should you will take prompt action

Can Subcontractors Suspend Performance?

Suspending performance of the works is a powerful incentive to make the Contractor put you at the top of the list when it comes to making payment.

But you MUST follow the contract!

Used properly, suspension is your best solution to prevent late payment.

You need to be careful and we would always recommend that you take our specific advice before suspending performance.

Remember our team includes Specialist Quantity Surveyors and Construction Contracts Consultants, so we have the capability to resolve your problem fast.

Set Off and Contra Charges

If the Contractor is making a set off from your account or is deducting contra charges, there are steps you can take to resolve the situation.

First and foremost, you need to take action and fast, because the situation is not going to get better of its own accord.

There is a significant difference between them saying it has cost £”x”,  for whatever reason and them being able to prove that;

  1. a) it is your responsibility and
  2. b) they have actually incurred those costs

In both cases their claims, are exactly that “claims”, and the burden of proof falls on them.In other words; they have to prove that these matters are your responsibility and that any costs they say they have incurred have actually been incurred, and that they are reasonable costs reasonably incurred.

Think of it this way. How much trouble do they put you to when you claim for variations?

Want To Know More?

Come  and discover the Secret Keys To Minimise Risk and Maximise Profit, that we have been putting into practice on behalf of Specialist Subcontractors for the last 28 years.

And they’re are being revealed at our July events;

“Understand Your Contract to Minimise Risk and Maximise Profit”

“Introduction To Contractual Awareness and Using JCT Subcontracts”

WHEN/WHERE IS IT? The dates and fast access venues are as follows;

N.B. Only 3 places left at Watford

03 July – Birchwood Park and Country ClubDartford Close to M25 and M20

04 July – Brooklands HotelWeybridge Close to M25, M3 and A3

17 July – The Jurys InnWatford Close to M1 and M25

18 July – Marriott Hotel Waltham Abbey Close to M25, M11 and A10

Here’s what your fellow Subcontractors said about our last event;

“Easily digestible information delivered in an interesting and easy to understand format”

“Very detailed and informative”

“Very informative and well delivered”

“We were struggling to get paid; not any longer!”


Session 1 – Contract Formation Session 2 – Introduction to JCT Contracts and Construction Act Session 3 – Time, Notices and Delay and Disruption Session 4 – Instructions, Variations and Maximising Return Session 5 – Getting Paid On Time and the Right Amount Session 6 – Resolving Conflicts and Disputes Session 7 – Putting It All Together


Our events are exclusively for Specialist Contractors so you are in the friendly company of other Specialist Contractors, and everything is designed to provide a broad appeal for all Specialist Contractors staff including;

Estimators, Contracts Managers; Project Managers; Commercial Managers, Quantity Surveyors, Credit Controllers and Directors


The Secrets To Getting Paid and Minimising Risk and Maximising Profit! Specialist Contractors don’t get paid because they don’t understand the contract or don’t apply it when they should. We will reveal all you need to know to enable you to understand the fundamentals of those subcontracts, and how to get paid.


The value of this whole days training is £350 + VAT, however, you can get your Early Bird booking  discount and enjoy the reduced rates as follows;

10% discount when you book one place

20 % discount when you book 2 or more places

And if you are a member and StreetwiseSubbie Buddy (or join us now), you are eligible for even more heavily discounted preferential rates.

All rates are subject to VAT

Booking couldn’t be simpler, just contact me directly on 01773 712116 or email me at tanya@streetwisesubbie.com to confirm your places.

But hurry our last round of seminars sold out very quickly.

Thanks and best regards



P.S. Please remember that we are here to provide solutions exclusively for Subcontractors. If you want the Secret Keys To Getting Paid Properly or have a payment problem, not sure what to do or just want a second opinion, then we are here for you. Please give us a call on 01773 712116, or email info@streetwisesubbie.com today.

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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.

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StreetwiseSubbie.com Ltd
17 Ilkeston Road
DE75 7DR

Helpline: +44 (0)1773 712116
Email: info@streetwisesubbie.com