Why Advance Milestone Payments?

The problem on traditional renovation projects is that owners pay their architect and general contractor in advance without protections or visibility into where money is going and as a result end up trying to regain control as the project progresses by withholding monies. This creates logistical issues and breeds mistrust between all parties and produces delays and additional costs for the owner.

Bolster's solution is simple: you pay one milestone payment in advance to Bolster and we only release it to the professional once they have successfully completed that milestone. This way you're not paying for work that has yet to be complete and your professional knows they are going to be promptly and accurately paid.

Bolster's solution makes it easier for you to pay for your renovation, understand where every dollar is going and ensure a successful outcome. Here's how it works:

  • Your professional produces a payment schedule with payments tied to milestones 
  • Bolster invoices you in advance of each milestone and collects and holds on to your funds
  • Once your professional has successfully completed a milestone (say #3), Bolster invoices you for the next one (#4) and releases the funds to the professional for milestone #3. 
  • Bolster then updates the project's statement of account and makes this available to you and your professional through your dashboards.

Change Orders

It's easy to change your mind during your project and know exactly what you're paying for:

  • You can instruct your professional to raise a change order through your dashboard at any time during your project. A Bolster Change Order includes a detailed breakdown of all the individual tasks you want carried out and a mini payment schedule (if the Change Order is large enough)
  • Once published, you will have the option to accept or reject a Change Order and provide any feedback to your professional. Once accepted, you'll be invoiced for either the full amount OR for the first milestone
  • As soon as your funds have been received by Bolster, we'll instruct your professional to begin work
  • Then, on completion of the Change Order OR any milestone along the way, Bolster will release funds to the professional and invoice you for any following milestones.

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Billing

When you renovate with Bolster, you make payments only to Bolster - no being billed by, or having to pay, the architect, the expeditor, the engineer, the contractor etc. Just one payee, Bolster. We will invoice you 5 days in advance of any milestone payment or change order for any and all payments due on your project and then relay to your relevant professionals that you've paid and update your dashboards. 

Please be aware that Bolster Professionals only commence work on a milestone or change order on your project once they have received confirmation that payment has been received by Bolster. 

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How to Pay

To achieve your project goals, there's only one way to pay for your renovation that is guaranteed not to jeopardize your finances--or your project, and that's by wire transfer. 

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Checks 

Vulnerable to theft and loss, check payments come with substantial risks for project delays.

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Credit Card

Paying by credit card can mean hefty fees and delays, and can have repercussions for other projects. 

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Wire Transfer

Fast, cheap, and totally secure, wire transfers help ensure your renovation is completed on time. Learn more

Payouts to Professionals

Once your Bolster Professional confirms they have successfully completed a milestone on your project, Bolster will trigger a payout to the professional and notify you that your funds are about to be released for a milestone. If for any reason you disagree with the status of that milestone, Bolster will delay the payout and investigate. Only when all parties agree the milestone is complete will funds be released to your professional.

Professionals we pay: 

  Bolster Architect (who in turn pays expeditors, specialists and DOB fees)

  Bolster Engineer

  Bolster Contractor (who in turn pays all subcontractors and material suppliers)

Retention. On every payment you make to Bolster throughout your project's construction phase, 5% retention is withheld from your contractor until your project is completed to help ensure that your contractor properly completes all the activities required of them under your Bolster Project Agreement. 

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Bolster Fees

Bolster is 100% free for you and is paid for by our member professionals. Every time you make a payment to Bolster we retain a small percentage before making a payout to the professional. 

Financial Guarantee Fee. If you have purchased the Bolster Financial Guarantee on your project we will retain a percentage of the premium you pay us before paying our surety partner.

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Reporting

Bolster puts you in control of your project's financial data with a beautifully designed dashboard displaying:

  All of your project milestones

  All of your approved change orders

  All of your invoices

  All of your payments to Bolster and payments out to your professionals

  A current and comprehensive statement of account

  All amounts held by Bolster including funds for milestones that are in progress but not yet completed as well as retention amounts that will only be paid out to your contractor on the completion of your project. 

FAQs

Why do I pay Bolster in advance? ...

All experienced renovation professionals, Bolster or traditional, require payment in advance on a renovation project. For contractors, the cash outlay to mobilize your project can be 20% or more of your total project cost which creates a significant risk to their business if you decide to cancel your project or withhold payment. Paying Bolster directly and having us release funds upon the completion of milestones means you're not paying for work that has yet to be complete and your professional knows they are going to be promptly and accurately paid for work they do complete.

How does Bolster reduce my financial risk? ...

On a traditional renovation project:
You'll pay your general contractor an unsecured deposit in advance (typically up to 50% of your project's total cost or whatever the contractor requires of you to feel “safe” working with you) and continue to pay in tranches (typically 5 to 10 over the course of the project) into the contractor’s business account. At all times you are paying well in advance of progress and are exposed to the corresponding financial risk.

With Bolster:
✔ Your funds are stored in a separate project account (not comingled with a contractor’s business operations)
✔ Advance payments to Bolster General Contractors are capped to the cost of purchasing long-lead items and paying any subcontractor deposits and essential expenses
✔ Because payment processing with Bolster is mostly automated, Milestone payments can be more frequent and so less of your funds are exposed (e.g. rather than paying $50,000 for a milestone of work in advance you can pay in 5 installments of $10,000 for the same milestone)
✔ Our platform reports every single dollar in real-time and so you know the financial position of your project at all times
✔ You have the option of purchasing our Financial Guarantee which offsets your financial risk and exposure to contractor performance risk up to the full value of your project.

Why can't I pay Bolster by credit card? ...

Credit cards represent a systemic risk to all Bolster projects. If another Bolster customer disputes a charge for their renovation on their credit card, their actions can have serious repercussions for your project. When a customer has an issue with a charge, their credit card company will usually take their word for it and not only refund their money, but also issue the merchant a chargeback fee (i.e. your $50,000 could be withheld by the credit card company while they clear the dispute of another Bolster customer's $50,000 payment). Being fined, losing your funds that are needed for the next phase of your renovation, and having to devote valuable time to responding to credit card disputes, can all put a major strain on your contractor's resources, making it impossible for them to continue and complete on time.

Who pays for wire transfer fees? ...

We do. Bolster will refund your bank's charges up to a limit of $25 per wire transfer.

Who does Bolster pay on my project? ...

Bolster pays all the professionals on your project including:

✔ Bolster Architect (who in turn pays expeditors, specialists and DOB fees)
✔ Bolster Engineer
✔ Bolster Contractor (who in turn pays all subcontractors and material suppliers)

Bolster currently does not pay your Building' Management or Your Interior Designer.

Can I dispute the status of a milestone? ...

Yes. You will receive a notification that your professional has requested payment for a milestone. If for any reason you disagree with the status of that milestone, Bolster will hold the payout and investigate. Only when all parties agree the milestone is complete will funds be released to the professional.

See our Terms of Service for more info