Painting Contractors: Are Shrinkage Cracks A Defect Under the Defects Liability Period?




Posted by The Painters’ QS in Estimating for Painting Contractors

NO! but get ready for the arguments!!

The defects liability period is a fixed period of time (typically 6-24 months), starting from the date of practical completion.

At the end of this period the painting contractor is meant to return to site to rectify 'defects'.

The Principal Contractor retains a percentage of the contract value (typically 2.5%) for this period of time, subject to the painting contractor completing the necessary 'remedial' works (retention)

Sounds good so far?

Well, here's the problem: The whole system is relies on the definition/interpretation of  the term 'defect'.

A Principal Contractor would have you believe that 'shrinkage cracks' are a defect of workmanship/materials and should be put right by the painter 'free of charge'.

However, shrinkage cracks occur 'naturally' as timber/plaster/mortar etc., dries out and are a 'maintenance issue which does not fall under the contractual obligations of the painter under the defects liability period.

Therefore, rectifying 'shrinkage' cracks is a 'chargeable' item which the client/principal contractor should pay the painter for.

This is where the arguments start, with the Principal Contractor refusing to release 'retention' and even the of bringing in other painters and counter charging!!

My only advice here is when you originally tender for the project, make sure in your tender letter you have a section on retention which includes wording to the effect that repairs/repainting of shrinkage cracks will be a 'chargeable item' under the defects liability clause of the contract and are not considered a defect of workmanship or materials.


You then need to make sure that this clause in your tender letter is not superseded by the Principal Ccontractor's contract clauses relating to retention.


I know:  You need to be a lawyer!!!!!!!

You have been warned.


Happy Estimating



Painting Estimator


Written by P&D Online

The Painters’ QS