Anyone who has worked in the construction industry is familiar with the financial risks involved. With thin margins, cash flow issues and the litany of potential claims and damages that can arise, contractors need to be able to manage that risk properly.
There is the right way of going about it, and there's a wrong way. Unfortunately, the wrong way (which involves using leverage and shifting risk to other parties) is the more prevalent approach. There are different contractual tactics employed by owners and general contractors alike to shift financial risk to other parties.
Why is construction so financially risky?
There are a few different reasons there is so much risk involved. First and foremost, the construction payment chain itself is inherently risky. Owners and lenders release project funds and trust that the money will reach everyone on the job. But that can’t happen unless each link in the payment chain passes payment to the next. That's a lot of trust for an industry that's not particularly known for it.
Another reason is how construction projects begin. Upfront payment is rare in this industry. This leads to floating the initial costs, extending credit and potentially borrowing money to do so. And those who typically bear this burden, lower-tier subs and suppliers, are the least equipped for that level of risk.
Reprinted courtesy of Nate Budde, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.