Top Construction Accounting Methods

how is construction accounting different?

Make sure to invoice clients regularly or ask for payment upfront for expensive materials and labour. The critical thing to know about construction accounting is that you have to do it regularly. One of the easiest but most important steps to follow is maintaining daily records. It’s a lot more difficult for you to track the financial position of your business if you don’t keep accurate records.

how is construction accounting different?

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. As an owner of a construction business, reports are one of the primary ways you gain visibility into your financial health and operation.


Retainage, slow payments, and high upfront costs lead to long, irregular cash flow cycles. In general, a construction business with gross receipts over $10 million must use the percentage of completion revenue recognition method for tax purposes. A construction business with gross receipts under $10 million can use the completed contract method on construction projects that last less than two years. They’re only required to use the percentage of completion method for construction contracts that extend over two years. Revenue recognition is one of the biggest tasks that can be effectively undertaken with the help of a construction accountant (Coetsee & Wyk, 2020; Wustemann & Kierzek, 2005).

What is the difference in construction accounting?

Construction accounting is different from regular business accounting. In addition to the standard accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll transactions, construction companies deal with retention, job costing, change orders, progress billings, customer deposits, and other anomalies.

The key difference between accrual and cash basis accounting is when money is recorded by your organization. Accrual counts money where it is supposed to be, not where it actually is. Accrual is focused on measuring long-term finances from construction contracts while cash better reflects real-time numbers. Construction accounting software can make everything about construction accounting go much more smoothly. While it’s manageable for smaller contractors to use off the shelf software like QuickBooks and MYOB, growing construction companies need specialized accounting software that’s built for construction. Although many small businesses prefer the cash method for its simplicity, only some contractors qualify.

What Is A Joint Check Agreement?

This could leave you relatively in the dark in regards to the financial health of your business. You might not realize your business is in a financial hole until it’s too late. Under regular business accounting circumstances, revenue recognition is simple because they sell a product or service and collect a fixed price right away. They can choose between the cash method or the accrual accounting methods. However, the nature of construction companies makes how these businesses recognize revenue more complicated. Construction companies and contractors can choose among several accrual accounting methods specialized for their industry.

In most cases, the difference is considered as part of the contractor’s liability, until such time that the cost incurred catches up with the actual billing. Construction accounting can also be used to effectively keep track of a certain number of indirect costs that are charged during the actual construction phase. Revenue from construction projects can be recognized using either the completed contract or percentage completion methods. Completed contract is usually favorable for tax purposes, but there are limitations on when it can be used. A construction company’s labor force can include a combination of salaried employees, union and non-union workers, and independent contractors. Tracking the labor hours and costs on multiple projects can become challenging, so to automate the process and reduce human error and oversight, it’s important to take advantage of web-based tools and mobile apps.