A Contractor’s Guide for Developing Contracts in Washington State


Beginning a construction project brings plenty of excitement and legal details, too. As you start drafting a contract for clients in the state of Washington, there are requirements to consider that you may not be familiar with.

In Washington, contractors have quite a bit of flexibility when developing contracts with clients. The state does have a few minor requirements for contractors, but generally, contracts can be tailored to specific projects to ensure that all parties are on the same page. Read on to learn more about what contractors should include in a contract in Washington state.

Basic Contract Requirements

All construction contractors must be registered with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Washington state law also requires that construction contractors are fully bonded and insured.

These licensing laws ultimately protect clients from fraud, accidents, and poor or incomplete work. As part of these laws, contractors must include their name, address, and registration number in construction contracts.

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries also recommends including the following in your contract: the price of the project (including sales tax); payment terms; any permit fees; the scope of work; a list of materials, major suppliers, and any subcontractors who may be brought on board; any warranties related to the project; and the process for change orders.

Additional Provisions

In addition to these basic requirements, Washington contractors may need to include additional provisions depending on the project's scope. Contractors may include a mechanics lien provision, which will give them additional legal standing if they do not receive payment for a project. Contractors should also be wary of contracts that specifically opt out of the mechanics lien option.

Additionally, contractors working on projects in a specific price range may need to include a Model Disclosure Statement in their contract. This simple statement applies to residential projects of four units or less with a starting value of $1,000 and any commercial project between $1,000 and $60,000.

Washington Payment Provisions

While Washington state provides plenty of flexibility in the contractor-client relationship, developing a detailed contract can still be highly beneficial. Private projects are not subject to prompt payment laws in Washington whereas public projects are.

It can, therefore, be helpful for both parties to include provisions related to payment in a written contract to ensure there are no misunderstandings (and to protect both parties in a court of law). The contract can include estimates provided during the bidding process and the final project costs, as well as a record of any down payments made and the terms of future payments.


Note: Consult a legal professional in connection with the drafting of any legal documents which include contracts.