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What are the early warning signs that a contractor may be in financial difficulty?

As the project progresses, it is important to continually monitor the contractor’s performance.  Any one or more of the items below can be early warning signs that the contractor is in financial difficulty, and that further actions may be necessary:

  • Decrease in labour or contractor’s personnel on site, and/or rapid turnover of contractor’s personnel
  • Slowdown in progress on site
  • Plant, equipment or materials suddenly disappearing from site for no apparent reason – unpaid subcontractors may unilaterally decide to remove items from site regardless of their contractual rights to do so
  • An increasing number of defects and reduction in the quality of the contractor’s work
  • The contractor seeking changes in the payment arrangements, and in particular early payments
  • The contractor making spurious claims or contra charges
  • The contractor seeking assignment of its benefit of the building contract
  • Late filing of accounts by the contractor at Companies House
  • Unsatisfied court judgements against the contractor
  • Subcontractors and suppliers not being paid or being paid late
  • Rumours in the press, in the industry, on site or elsewhere regarding the solvency of the contractor
  • Unusual visits to site, for example from the contractor’s senior management or other personnel who had not previously been present or are not expected to be present
  • Increasingly aggressive behaviour by the contractor
  • The contractor’s parent company or another company within the contractor’s group displaying any of the above signs