The Role of the Surety in Construction Finance

Date June 20, 2024
Article Authors
Matthew Woodruff

In the construction finance process, the role of the surety is critical to managing risk, ensuring project completion, and protecting financial interests for construction companies and construction projects. A surety is typically a company, often an insurance or surety bond company, that provides a financial guaranty to one party (the obligee, often the project owner) that another party (the principal, usually the contractor) will fulfill their contractual obligations. Here’s a breakdown of the role and functions of a surety in construction finance:

Construction accounting is essential for managing financial data and project costs, ensuring the financial viability of construction projects.

  • Providing Financial Security. The surety provides a form of credit that guarantees the contractor will perform the work as specified in the contract. This protects the project owner from financial loss if the contractor fails to complete the project or fails to meet contractual specifications. Construction contracts have significant financial implications, and the surety ensures these are met.

  • Assessing Risk. Before issuing a bond, the surety company conducts a thorough assessment of the contractor’s financial strength, expertise, and past project performance. This due diligence helps to mitigate the risk of contractor default, ensuring that only qualified contractors are likely to be involved in the project. Evaluating construction costs, direct costs, and indirect costs is crucial in this assessment.

  • Providing Different Types of Bonds. In construction, the surety typically provides several types of bonds, including:
    • Bid Bonds ensure that the contractor can secure a performance bond if awarded the contract and protects the owner if the contractor fails to enter into the contract.
    • Performance Bonds guarantee the contractor will perform the work in accordance with the contract terms and conditions.
    • Payment Bonds guarantee the contractor will pay subcontractors, laborers, and material suppliers involved in the project. Construction loans also play a role in financing these projects.

  • Ensuring Contract Completion. In the event of contractor default, the surety has several options to ensure project completion, including financing the original contractor to complete the job, selecting a new contractor to finish the project, or allowing the project owner to complete the work with the surety covering the costs. Managing project costs and job costing is essential to ensure financial stability.

  • Accommodating the Laws and Regulations. The surety’s involvement is governed by various laws and regulations, including federal statutes like the Miller Act, which requires performance and payment bonds for all contracts greater than $100,000 for “the construction, alteration, or repair of any public building or public work” where the federal government is the owner. Maintaining financial health is crucial for compliance with these regulations.

  • Facilitating Financing. The presence of surety bonds can make it easier for contractors to obtain financing for a project, as lenders are reassured by the risk mitigation that bonds provide. Construction accounting plays a vital role in securing this financing.

In summary, the surety framework not only facilitates smoother project execution but supports the overall stability and integrity of the construction industry.

Maintaining Your Surety Relationship

Given the surety’s critical role, the relationship between contractor and surety is a key to project execution. Take these steps to ensure a good relationship with the project surety.

  • Maintain clear and open communication and address problems early.
  • Respond promptly to documentation requests.
  • Build trust through transparency.
  • Understand the terms of the contracts prior to acceptance
  • Keep detailed and organized records and documents
  • Know your financial ratios and benchmarking

By nurturing a good relationship with your surety, you not only secure the necessary bonds for your projects, but also build a foundation of trust and cooperation that can significantly benefit your business long term.

HBK Construction Solutions: Industry-Savvy CPAs

HBK Construction Solutions is a team of financial professionals within HBK CPAs & Consultants dedicated to serving the construction industry. We understand the day-to-day difficulties encountered by contractors, including risk management and cost controls. We help contractors understand the nature and scope of the various financial risks you are exposed to—but may not be aware of—as well as advise you on techniques and cost-saving strategies for guarding against those risks. We understand how cash flow impacts earnings, bonding, prequalification, and financing, and we help project managers understand cash flow management and provide strategies and techniques to improve your cash flow cycle.

Surety companies’ requirements mandate using an accounting firm with intimate knowledge of the construction industry. Financial reporting that doesn’t reflect a deep and thorough understanding of what the surety company requires and how they want it presented reduces your chance of getting bonded—or at least creates costly, damaging delays. HBK Construction Solutions industry-savvy CPAs understand the need for timely, relevant financial statements and can turn review and audit engagements around expediently, which can be the difference in your company winning that next project. In fact, surety companies commonly seek out HBK Construction Solutions CPAs to help contractors address the issues they need to in order to become bonded.

For more information or to schedule a meeting with an HBK Construction Solutions CPA, contact us at 267-855-2603, or email me at

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