A Brief Primer On Subdivision Development Bonds

By Luke J. Farley

Payment and performance bonds get all our attention. But there is another type of construction bond you might encounter, especially if the housing market in North Carolina stays hot[1]—the so-called “subdivision development bond.”[2] Both cities and counties can provide for “more orderly development of subdivisions by requiring the construction of community service facilities” like roads, sidewalks, utilities, etc.[3] To ensure that the infrastructure improvements are completed, local governments can require “performance guarantees” from developers.[4] All performance guarantees must meet the same basic requirements.[5] The purpose of a performance guarantee is to prevent a situation where a developer begins work on a subdivision, builds some houses, and then runs out of money without completing the infrastructure, leaving residents in a half-built community without roads, sidewalks, sewer, etc. Unfortunately, incomplete subdivisions were a common problem during the last economic downturn.[6]

Performance guarantees usually take the form of surety bonds, though the developer also has the option of getting a letter of credit[7] or some other equivalent security.[8] According to the International Risk Management Institute, a bond is the preferred option because it does not require any security[9] (though the developer or its principals should still expect to sign an indemnity agreement). Other performance guarantees, like a letter of credit or certificate of deposit, would either tie up the developer’s capital or put it directly at risk as collateral.[10]

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Recommended Reading: On the State Tax Code, Clarity Combined With New Gray Area

This year, North Carolina made many changes to the Tax Code which have raised many questions coming from the construction industry. Certain construction projects, if not considered capital improvements under the Tax Code’s definitions, require that the contractors collect taxes on projects. Even if no taxes are to be collected on the projects, contractors need to understand the affidavits that they should request, or that will be requested of them. Brett Becker and John Mabe offer an explainer on the new tax in a post on the NexsenPruet Insights site.