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Bond Claims

Overview of Washington Bond Claims

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A bond is a written commitment by a bonding company (surety) to guarantee the performance of a contractor.

Bonds which guarantee payment to subcontractors are “payment bonds.” Bonds which assure the owner that the contractor will complete the work in accordance with the contract documents are “performance bonds.”

In private contracting, the State requires that a licensed general contractor obtain a bond in a minimal amount of $12,000 regardless of the size of job. RCW 18.27.040.

On larger public works projects (projects owned by a governmental entity), the public entity requires the general contractor to obtain both payment and performance bonds. RCW 39.08.010.

In fact, members of the governing body are personally liable by statute for failure to obtain adequate bonds on public works projects. RCW 39.08.015.

There is no right to file a mechanics lien on a public works project. State, Dep't of Nat. Res. v. Pub. Util. Dist. No.1 of Klickitat Cty., 187 Wn. App. 490, 506, 349 P.3d 916, 924 (2015). Instead, a subcontractor's recourse is to file a bond claim with the bonding company (surety) and the public entity. RCW 39.08.030.

The bond must be presented and filed with the governing body of the public owner within thirty (30) days of final completion of the work. RCW 39.08.030. From there, the bond claimant must enforce the bond claim by bringing a lawsuit within the time period applicable for contracts.  RCW 4.16.040; RCW 4.16.080.

However, the terms of the bond can shorten those deadlines.

If the bond is not already obtained before starting work, any subcontractor concerned about being paid should obtain the bond as soon as possible. 

A subcontractor asserting a claim on a public works project may be entitled to an award of attorney fees and costs from the responsible party. RCW 39.04.240; RCW 4.84.030.   


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