While I can't answer for other companies, I can share with you our policy(ies). Any project we execute, in any amount, requires a deposit. This deposit is bascially a retainer fee that provides commitment from both parties - homeowner and contractor (us) alike.
The cost of that deposit is sliding scale based on the overall project cost and considerations for the client's financial abilities. Here are some examples:
Small Scale Project: Overall cost for the project is $3,500. The deposit would be 1/2 ($1,750) or a 1/3 ($1,166.67). With 1/2, the balance would be due at completion. With 1/3, a draw would be required at the mid-way point of completion and the balance due at completion.
Large Scale Project: Overall cost for the project is $17,500. The deposit would be 1/5 ($3,500) or 1/6 ($2,916.67). With both scenarios: Equitable draws would be required at specific points, appropriate to the overall job scope (such as due at completion of demo, due at the completion of framing, etc.), over the duration of the project and the balance due at completion.
We feel this is the most fair and honest approach when executing a project. This methodology allows the client to experience first hand our work etchics and caliber of craftsmanship while simulataneously allowing us to establish trust and rapport with client as the foundation of future relations.
~ My Two Cents
AllPro Residential, LLC