Colorado Senate Bill 12-181: 2012’s Version of a Prompt Pay Bill.

A potentially important legislative bill has been introduced in waning days of the 2012 legislative session, which would change many of the commercial practices that prevail in the construction industry. Senate Bill 12-181 applies to all building and construction contracts and would prohibit any contract provision that requires a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier to waive their lien in advance of payment. It also would ban any “choice of law” provisions that make a Colorado-based construction contract subject to enforcement only in another state, or under the laws of another state. 

The bill also seeks to change many existing commercial practices between contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. It is presently unclear whether the bill allows parties to contract around these payment procedure provisions, or whether these requirements are simply “gap filling” provisions that pertain if there are no written contract terms specified on these issues.  The proposed statute would mandate payment to subcontractors and material suppliers due within seven days in the absence of a dispute about the work or materials being billed. After this seven day period, the bill would require the payment of interest at the rate of 1.5% monthly (18% annually).  In any later suit for payment, the creditor would also be able to collect reasonable attorneys’ fees.  Additionally, non-payment to a subcontractor or supplier who is later found to be entitled to prompt payment would excuse the subcontractor or supplier, and its surety bond provider, from any further performance under the contract.

It is presently unclear whether the bill allows parties to contract around these payment procedure provisions. However, it is clear that the bill provides some leeway for change orders, as long as there is (1) negotiation in good faith between the parties concerning the changed scope of work, and (2) a 50% payment of a subcontractor’s costs by the changing party within 30 days of the change order work being done. Additionally, the bill provides for retainage, but in an amount of no more than 5%.


For additional information regarding Colorado construction litigation, please contact David M. McLain at (303) 987-9813 or by e-mail at


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