Few industries place as much product in the hands of buyers as far in advance of payment as the construction industry. Late payment is the accepted norm for construction contractors. What's surprising is the blase attitude contractors take toward the payment system. This attitude, along with the system itself, compounds the payment problem for contractors. In the language of most contracts and in the role of most designers, there's an assumption that contractors don't do the work without a gun held to their heads. This creates mistrust. Contractors often feel they have little power to get paid and that entitlement to their money is clouded. They send in their payment requisition, and if the architect disagrees, it's returned with red-lined changes. Then the contractor retypes it, signs it, and sends it to the architect again. This puts the contractor in the passive role of taking what they can get, rather than invoicing customers for services rendered. Changing your payment requisition is saying that you were wrong in the first place.

One of the first things contractors can do to collect their money faster, if not on time, is to prepare and send out the payment requisition on time. Begin by preparing the bill well before the last day of each month. That way the requisition can be sent on the first day of the month. Then phone to make sure the bill isn't just sitting on someone's desk. You need to be aggressive to get paid. Let everyone know at the initial meeting that you expect to be paid. After clarifying the payment procedures, it's a good idea to bill accurately, or where questions exist, bill low at first. That way, you know the designer will be proved wrong if the requisition gets red-lined. The owners and architects will get used to taking your word for work completed.