Deposits on residential work is fairly simple. To my knowledge you can ask for whatever terms you would like. In NYS contract deposits are considered to be "in trust", technically you are supposed to keep the deposit separate from your other accounts but very few contractors do it. If the homeowner signs a contract in their home they have a right to cancel. Municipal work there is never a deposit. Commercial work rarely do you get a deposit but you can try. Most GC's won't pay a deposit but some Owners might. Progress payments are your best bet on commercial work. Make sure the terms are spelled out. Working as a sub-subcontractor is probably the worst scenario. If the project is funded by government grant or non-profit then the terms of the grant will most likley spell out the terms. Whatever the job try to get payment as work proceeds so you don't have too much out of pocket expense.