Retainage Calculator

What is Retainage and Why is it Important?

Retainage, also known as retention, is a common practice in the construction industry where a percentage of the contract amount is withheld by the owner or general contractor until all work is completed satisfactorily. This is done to ensure that the contractor or subcontractor fulfills all terms of the contract, including fixing any defects in the work. Retainage serves as a form of security for the project owner, helping to guarantee that the project is completed to their standards.

How is Retainage Calculated?

Retainage is typically calculated as a percentage of each payment made to the contractor or subcontractor. The percentage varies depending on the terms of the contract, but it is commonly set at around 10% of the total contract amount. For example, if a contractor has completed $100,000 worth of work and the retainage rate is 10%, $10,000 will be withheld as retainage.

Understanding the Implications of Retainage

Retainage Calculator

While retainage can provide a sense of security for the project owner, it can also have negative implications for contractors and subcontractors. The withheld funds can impact cash flow and make it more difficult for the contractors to cover their costs, leading to delays in payment to their suppliers and workers. This can create tension in the construction project and strain relationships between the parties involved.

Tools to Help Calculate Retainage

There are online retainage calculators available that can help contractors and subcontractors determine how much retainage will be withheld on each payment. These calculators take into account the contract amount, percentage of retainage, and the amount of work completed to provide an accurate estimation of the funds that will be retained.

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Strategies to Mitigate the Impact of Retainage

Contractors and subcontractors can take several steps to mitigate the impact of retainage on their cash flow. One strategy is to negotiate a lower retainage rate with the project owner, based on the contractor’s track record of successfully completing projects on time and within budget. Another approach is to request for a portion of the retainage to be released once a certain percentage of the work is completed satisfactorily, providing some relief in terms of cash flow.


Retainage is an important aspect of construction contracts that serves to protect the interests of the project owner. While it can provide security, it can also create challenges for contractors and subcontractors in terms of cash flow. By understanding how retainage is calculated and implementing strategies to mitigate its impact, contractors can navigate this aspect of construction projects more effectively.