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  /  Bookkeeping   /  Construction Accounting 101: A Simple Guide for Contractors

Construction Accounting 101: A Simple Guide for Contractors

what is construction accounting

Progress billing or incremental billing is very common in construction accounting. Invoices are created based on the percentage of completed work to date and payments are made at key agreed points of the project completion. Because progress billing allows contractors to be paid at regular intervals it is especially beneficial for large projects that will take months or years to complete. Job costing in construction accounting is the process of allocating project costs like materials, labor, and equipment to a specific job and tracking those costs throughout the life of the project. Job costs are frequently compared with the estimated costs that are established at the beginning of the project to ensure its financial health. Traditional methods of accounting do not account for the specialized accounting and billing methods that are used in construction.

Regular businesses typically offer 1-5 different types of products or services, whereas construction businesses offer a wide range of services. This may include service work, design services, consulting, engineering, sourcing materials, and more. In this guide, we address some of those challenges and cover the basics of construction accounting. Follow this resource step-by-step to establish an effective accounting process, avoid costly mistakes, and make more money. An example concerning the percentage of completion method of construction accounting is presented below. In the cash method, expenses and revenues are accounted for as and when they are paid and received, respectively.


While revenue recognition and retainage impact when a company can record revenue, billing refers to when a home buyer receives invoices. Between overseeing multiple projects, client expectations and managing your team, even the most financially savvy contractors can struggle to balance their books. Labor costs tend to be the biggest expense for many construction companies. In this blog, we’re simplifying accounting in construction by telling you exactly what it is, how it works and how you can incorporate it into your business based on what makes the most sense for you. For Construction Company Owners who do not need the full power of QuickBooks for contractors and want 24/7 online access we offer Xero Accounting Online and we have custom setup for construction companies.

  • It offers role-based functionality to protect the security of information and to ensure that employees only access information that is relevant to them and that they should be privy to.
  • To help simplify the construction accounting processes, we present construction accounting tips and best practices.
  • Equipment costs are a total of the equipment rental costs used on a project or an allocated equipment charge to the project for equipment the company may own.
  • We’ll dive into each of these to see the foundation contractors need for running a successful construction business.
  • ACA & W-2 Services Our ACA reporting & e-filing services include official 1094-C and 1095-C IRS reporting, optional e-filing , mailing to your employees and experienced support to help you.
  • New construction accounting software can cost anywhere between a hundred bucks to thousands of dollars, depending on the features you want and the number of users.
  • In her experience, customers are always pleased when they pay less than the estimate.

Frequent use of different specialty contractors and suppliers affects efficiency and cash flow.ContractsNo retainage. Payment arrives in full or with regular payments for the full contract amount.Retainage. Some portion of payment may be withheld until project completion even when the contractor’s work is finished.Cash flowPredictable. Regular production and short-term contracts lead to manageable cash flow cycles.Irregular. Retainage, slow payments, and high upfront costs lead to long, irregular cash flow cycles.

Try these construction accounting methods

One of the most important things to know about construction accounting is that you have to do it regularly. That means you need to update your accounting software with expense construction bookkeeping reviews, your cash flow, updated employee information and generated invoices at least once a week. If you fall behind in your accounts, things can quickly get out of hand.

  • And if you do have a formal payroll, it may change on a weekly basis.
  • Retainage is the predetermined amount of money an owner may hold back from payment until they’re satisfied with contract completion.
  • It helps them keep control of each project by having an independent analysis of each project.
  • If a company hasn’t completed a major project by the end of an accounting period, for example, its financial statements will reflect all the project expenses it’s incurred but none of the revenue it’s earned.
  • For most businesses, the accounting general ledger (G/L) is all they need.
  • You may want to use a digital expense tracker app to automate this process for you.

For these reasons, construction companies may need to generate separate profit and loss statements for each project. Therefore, the accuracy of bookkeeping and accounting plays a crucial role to give a full insight into their financial health and support to making informed business decisions. Without the right software, construction firms are not able to precisely manage WIP and prepare accurate financial statements since standard accounting software is not built to support WIP. If you’re a construction company owner, it’s important to understand the specific payroll requirements for the construction industry. This will help ensure you’re compliant with all labor laws and avoid penalties for non-compliance. Managing payroll, including tracking employee time, managing project finances, and generating accurate reports, are important steps to helping you make informed decisions about your business.

How Deltek Supports the Construction Industry

There are best practices construction companies may follow to help ensure compliant – and painless – construction accounting. With the nature of housing projects, there’s often a long lead time between when a contract is signed and the construction project is completed. This complicates the accounting process, as it sometimes takes years until you have revenue in hand from a project.