Performance bond

Performance bond

Performance bonds are essential to many industries, particularly construction and contracting. They provide financial protection for project owners and incentivise contractors to fulfil their obligations. Project owners and contractors can mitigate risks and ensure successful completion by understanding and utilising performance bonds. 

What is performance bond? 

A surety bond that guarantees that a contractor will execute a project according to the terms and conditions agreed upon in a contract is termed as a performance bond. It protects the project owner or client, ensuring they will not suffer any financial loss if the contractor fails to fulfil their obligations. Financial institutions like insurance companies or banks usually provide performance bonds. The party performing the services per the agreement would be responsible for paying the bond. 

Understanding performance bond 

One of the critical aspects of performance bonds is their financial guarantee. Contractors who obtain a performance bond secure a guarantee from a third-party surety company. This guarantee ensures that the project owner will be compensated in the event of non-performance or if the contractor fails to adhere to the agreed-upon standards. This provides peace of mind to the project owner, as he knows he has a safeguard to protect his investment. 

The Miller Act introduced the need for performance bonds. The Act covers all public service contracts worth US$100,000 or more. Private industries that depend on general contractors for their business operations must also post these bonds. 

Performance bonds also incentivise contractors to complete their projects on time and to the required standard. By having a performance bond in place, contractors face potential financial repercussions if they fail to meet their obligations. This serves as motivation for them to perform their duties diligently and efficiently. It also reassures the project owner, knowing the contractor has a stake in completing the project. 

It is important to note that performance bonds are different from payment bonds. While performance bonds focus on the completion of the project, payment bonds ensure that subcontractors and suppliers are paid for their work. Both types of bonds are often required together, providing comprehensive protection for all parties involved in a project. 

How does a performance bond work? 

Performance bonds are generally essential for government-related projects like bridges or roads. They are frequently used for building projects in the private sector as well.  

The following details must be provided by the contractor when requesting a performance bond from the surety:  

  • Financial statements compiled or examined by a CPA for at least two years. 
  • A duplicate of the agreement to which the performance bond is affixed. 
  • A request to the surety firm. 
  • Property or other collateral that belongs to the contractor. 

Three parties are involved in a performance bond:  

  • Principal 

The principal is the primary entity or individual carrying out the task. This is frequently a contractor or a similar business. 

  • Obligee 

The one who is obligated or obligee is the client. The entity, person, or governmental body will be the one who receives the job. A city may require a performance bond to ensure that a contractor will complete the roadwork according to plan. 

  • Surety 

The financial institution that offers the performance bond is the surety.  

Performance bonds are offered to safeguard both parties from potential risks, such as contractors going bankrupt before concluding the contract. Additionally, they are employed in commodity transactions, where the seller must post a bond to guarantee the buyer that, if the sold item is not delivered, the buyer would, at the very least, be reimbursed for any expenses. 

Advantages of a performance bond 

  • It ensures that the project will be completed 

Performance bonds are offered to safeguard both parties from potential risks, such as contractors going bankrupt before concluding the contract. Additionally, they are employed in commodity transactions, where the seller must post a bond to guarantee the buyer that, if the sold item is not delivered, the buyer would, at the very least, be reimbursed for any expenses. 

  • It ensures payment to vendors 

When a building project is underway, there are several suppliers providing materials. When a contractor fails to finish a work, these suppliers can rely on a labour and material bond to be paid; this type of contract protects against unpaid material vendors. 

  • Provides opportunity to investors 

A tested method for setting up this kind of bond allows your business to respond to more bids because a performance bond is frequently required for infrastructure, government, or housing association projects. 

  • Increased contractor liquidity 

It should be considered a vital substitute for bank bonds and letters of credit, which frequently call for working capital to be set aside expressly for the contract period. Contractor liquidity is considerably increased by buying a performance bond. 

Example of a performance bond 

For example, a state government engages an independent contractor to construct a new public institution building. The project will cost US$10 million to construct and has a value substantially exceeding the initially needed US$100,000. Here the project necessitates using a performance bond, which the XYZ bank will issue. 


Independent contractor = the principal 

State government = obligee 

XYZ bank = surety 

In this case, the independent contractor must complete the construction per its contractual duties. Additionally, the state government must adhere to the terms of the agreement and pay the contractor when the job is finished. 

The issuer of the performance bond and the surety is both XYZ bank. It will guarantee that the job is completed and that the contractor is paid. XYZ bank will make up the loss to the state government if the contractor doesn’t live up to its expectations and doesn’t finish the project. The bank will then pursue the contractor to recover its losses. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The guarantee of a project’s completion is the performance bond’s primary advantage for the owners. The surety guards the owner’s interests if the contractor breaches the contract. A thorough pre-qualification procedure is followed with contractors. This procedure assists in assessing a contractor’s suitability to manage a contract and prevent default. 

Owners suffer several drawbacks from performance bonds. One is that the guarantee may not serve the owner’s best interests. A surety may claim that the owner has broken a bond agreement to prevent paying the owner. Another drawback is underestimating losses, which results in receiving less funding from a surety to finish the project. A surety might also attempt to choose the cheapest course of action. 

To get the performance bond, the contractor must consent to pay the surety a small portion of the entire bond amount, often between 1% and 4%. In return, the surety agrees to make payments up to the stipulated bond amount if the contractor doesn’t fulfil its duties. 

The bond contract will include the deadline for making a performance bond claim. Although some performance bonds run for 36 months, the majority of them last for a year. Your bond may also be revocable or non-revocable. 

Costs for performance bonds may vary according to the contractor’s qualifications, the nature and scope of the contract, and other factors. Usually, the rate charged is expressed as a percentage of the bond or contract amount. The typical charges and rates may be from 1% to 5%. 

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