The contractor’s chart of accounts is significantly different than the traditional chart of accounts. First off, the layout is more dependent on the balance sheet than the income statement (profit and loss) accounts. Furthermore, the income statement accounts are laid out to present a resource based costing presentation than a job costing format. To add another layer of complexity, the chart of accounts is somewhat oriented to the method of accounting selected by the contractor.
Construction in Process
Construction in process, sometimes referred to as ‘CIP’, reflects the total direct costs of construction for various projects in an ongoing state. Construction in process is customarily found in the current assets section of the balance sheet and is used as a tool for management to evaluate their respective financial position.
The whole goal of financial reports is to gain an understanding of financial performance and identify the key issues for changes to make improvements. In accounting we referred to this as a continuous feedback loop method of financial improvement. Insert data, report the data, discover opportunities for improvement; make changes and insert data and begin the whole process all over again. If you are even mildly alert to what is going on, you should easily identify opportunities and make financial improvements and ultimately maximize profitability for your business. It is not going to happen overnight but it will dramatically improve your bottom line within 2 years.
But all of this starts with the estimate for the project.
Just like a tip of an iceberg, a progress billing for a construction project is an invoice for a small part of the overall contract value. It needs to be recorded correctly and presented to management in a way that is understandable and beneficial for making decisions. This article will introduce the concept and cover how progress billings are presented on the balance sheet.