Construction Accounting 101: The Essential Guide 2023

how to run the accounting in a construction business

Improving your construction company’s profitability is vital as profit reflects a company’s stability. Higher levels of profitability encourage continuous growth and sustainable expansion.Improving profitability can be achieved by adopting effective strategies and… Our guide to the best inventory management software offers detailed insights into the pricing, features, and overall platform usability of the leading providers. It’s also important to categorize these expenses by service and individual job so that you can track how much money came in as well as how much you spent on expenses easily.

  • Because you only record revenue when you receive payment, you don’t have to pay taxes on sales for which you haven’t yet collected the money.
  • In essence, the percentage of completion method allows you to recognize as income that percentage of total income that matches the percentage of completion of a project.
  • This allows you to balance costs and expenses over the lifetime of a project.
  • Accordingly, both percentages of completion and completed contract methods allow for such tax deferral.
  • The system of categories the contractor uses across all of their jobs is called the job cost structure.
  • Tracking labor costs is tough when you have a mobile workforce deployed on many different projects.

We can help keep your business ahead of rising costs and help you navigate the ever-changing economic landscape. For most businesses, the accounting general ledger (G/L) is all they need. This lets them track transactions that impact the whole company’s financial picture. However, because construction accounting is project-centered and production is de-centralized, contractors also need a way to track and report transactions specific to each job. Job costing is the practice in construction accounting of tracking costs to particular projects and production activities. A solid accounting function contributes to the success of any construction company.

Percentage of completion method

Reserve one account for receiving payments from customers, use another account exclusively for payroll, and yet another to build a cash reserve. Separate accounts help you better determine how much money is coming into and out of your construction business. Additionally, you waste countless hours when tax seasons come around.

how to run the accounting in a construction business

While many industries can apply general accounting to their business model, there are several adjustments necessary when it comes to accounting for construction. This is because there are little to no fixed costs—think mobile environments , unique projects, and the variations between types of contracts for different services and timelines. This article will help you decide which method is best suited for your construction projects and simplify your construction accounting processes. The revenue recognized under a contract may be based on the completed contract method when it is not possible to determine the percentage of completion of a project. As the name implies, this means that the contractor recognizes all of the project revenue and profit only when a project has been completed. More commonly, the percentage of completion method is used, under which the contractor recognizes revenue by applying the estimated percentage of completion to the total anticipated profit.


Invoice your client on a regular basis – and get payment upfront for major materials or labor expenses. Recognizing revenue correctly is essential for construction accounting because construction contracts are often long-term and have an agreed-upon payment schedule. This post covers the certified payroll requirements for contractors working on federal construction projects. The shorter the time between billing and collecting, the healthier your AR. Managing accounts receivable can be a particular challenge for construction companies, given that the building industry suffers from some of the longest payment delays of any sector. The cost of goods sold refers to costs that have been incurred that are specific to projects in progress.

Determining whether construction projects will be profitable is more difficult than in industries such as retailing or manufacturing, due to all of the factors above. Each project brings its own unique real estate bookkeeping challenges, while change orders and fluctuating expenses during projects further complicate the picture. The critical thing to know about construction accounting is that you have to do it regularly.

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This often is used by home builders who build on spec and only recognize their income on a house once the house has sold. Read on to discover the ins and outs of construction accounting, its principles, and useful tools for accounting in a construction business of any size. No matter how far you are in the weeds, our team is here to help with your bookkeeping catchup that will have your financial records in order in no time.

Change orders are a normal part of the construction business, and change order administration can have a major impact on the way you account for jobs. It is critical to include clear change-order approval terms in your contracts and to implement procedures for obtaining signed change orders on a timely basis. Without properly authorized change orders, in some cases it may not be possible to recognize additional revenue in the same accounting period in which you incur costs to perform the additional work. This situation can have a negative impact on your financial statements and their evaluation by your banker and surety.

Accounting Guide for Construction Contractors

Because construction accounting involves specialized concepts, it typically requires specialized accounting skills. Revenue recognition is how a a business determines when they’ve officially earned revenue from a contract or project. You can go to a bank or credit union to set up a company checking account that suits the needs of your firm. Below are the key ways in which construction accounting differs from other types of accounting. We looked at third-party ratings and reviews to see how actual users felt about the software.

how to run the accounting in a construction business

Any business that releases financial statements to the public or is publicly traded has to use these principles in its accounting practices. However, before you can implement accounting processes, you first need to understand the differences between general accounting vs. construction accounting. For more tips like this, we recommend reading the post from start to finish for a full overview of the basics of accounting for contractors.

Construction Purchase Orders

Billing a fixed-price contract often happens on a percentage-of-completion basis with retainage withheld. Factoring for some of the essential differences from general accounting, construction accounting relies on a number of important concepts. In addition, contractors have to navigate a complex web of labor laws and local tax regimes.

  • This will help distinguish building materials from your weekly supermarket shop.
  • If you want to unlock advanced estimating and bill management, you will want the Advanced plan for $699 per month.
  • Leading systems offer project management, project scheduling, estimating, bid management and service management.
  • Accounting is an essential part of running a successful construction business.
  • Recording costs and income when they are incurred provides a more accurate picture of your current company finances.
  • With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there’s continuity from sales to services to support.
  • Invoices can be sent, bills of material recorded, expenses tracked – all from your mobile device.

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