How to Do Accounting for Your Construction Business—8 Steps – FreshBooks

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8 Accounting Basics for Contractors and Construction Businesses

8 Accounting Basics for Contractors and Construction Businesses
account is an substantive character of running a successful construction business. however, managing your business finances correctly doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate always come naturally—especially if you ’ re not a lot of a number ’ s person. Further, owners in the construction diligence expression unique challenges compared to early types of businesses .
In this usher, we address some of those challenges, vitamin a well as covering the basics of accounting. Follow this resource bit-by-bit to establish an effective account summons, avoid dearly-won mistakes, and make more money.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:
How be Construction Business Accounting Different ?
1. break Personal and Business Finances
2. Break Down Project Costs—’Job Costing ‘
3. Record Day-to-Day Transactions
4. traverse occupation Expenses
5. Reconcile Bank and Supplier Statements
6. Pay Estimated Taxes
7. Hire an Accountant ( Optional )
8. Leverage professional Accounting Software
More Resources for Construction Accounting

How Is Construction Business Accounting Different?

construction report is more complex than it is for most businesses due to the nature of the oeuvre, per-project price, fluctuating operate costs, and more. construction companies need to be able to track and report expenses, wish on projects, wangle payroll, and a murder of other accounting responsibilities .
Below are the key ways in which construction accountancy differs from early types of accountancy .


Contractors work from project to project and typically manage multiple projects at one meter. Projects aren ’ triiodothyronine necessarily paid for a soon as the project is completed : There may be an upfront depository required, the project could be paid in full, or it can take months before the final examination invoice is settled .
For these reasons, construction companies may need to generate separate net income and loss ( P & L ) statements for each project .


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 .
This can make it unmanageable to track expenses and effectively calculate profit generated from each service class .

Fluctuating Overhead Costs

structure companies besides experience fluctuating overhead costs. Consider the cost of insurance, travel, workers ‘ compensation, materials, subcontractors, equipment, and more. You will need to factor this into your construction accounting .
Most businesses plainly record the monetary value of the products sold, but construction businesses are quite different. Each subcontract incurs steer and indirect costs that may fall into a across-the-board range of categories. It ’ mho essential that contractors have an effective method acting for keeping track of income and expenses, and for reconciling every transaction .

Long-term Contracts

Your party may manage short- and long-run contracts, often with varying end dates. This means you may not get paid at the lapp time every calendar month. To stay on circus tent of cash stream and keep your books in check, you will need a elastic yet organized account organization .

1. Separate Personal and Business Finances

The first step for any owner is to create at least one separate bank account that will be used entirely for your business .
You can go to a bank or citation union to set up a party checking account that suits the needs of your tauten. This will make it easier to keep your finances organized .
To set up a business bank history, you will need :

  • Social security number or employer identification number (EIN)
  • Personal identification, such as driver’s license or passport
  • Business license
  • Organizing documents filed with the state

2. Break Down Project Costs—Job Costing

Since construction accounting is project-centric, you ’ ll need a direction to track, categorize, and report transactions for each job. This is called occupation cost .
Job cost is a method acting for allocating expenses and gross to each particular job. not merely will this help you prepare for tax time, but it provides an accurate account of profitableness for each sign.

It basically ensures that your serve price covers all overhead expenses while ensuring that a net income is made .
Job costing is calculated by determining the cost of labor, materials and overhead on a specific job (Total Job Cost = Direct Materials + Direct Labor + Applied Overhead). 
Read our complete guide on How to Calculate Job Costing

3. Record Day-to-Day Transactions

Use a journal, spreadsheets, or accounting software to record daily transactions like accounts account payable, accounts receivable, labor costs, and material costs. You ’ ll want to include a description of each transaction, the date of the transaction, and the gross received .
You can use construction invoice templates to bill your clients, and keep a composition record of all projects and tax income generated .

4. Track Business Expenses

You ’ ll besides want a “ job costs ” daybook or spreadsheet to keep racetrack of your expenses. This will include payroll, subcontractor fees, equipment, and material purchases. Again, be sure to note the date, description, and requital made .
You ’ ll besides want to categorize these expenses by avail, and by individual job so you can easily track how much money came in vitamin a well as how a lot you spent on expenses. Using an expense tracker and saving your receipts can help you keep racetrack of all of your expenses .
The most common expenses construction industry businesses have include:

  • Business registration and licensing
  • Bank fees
  • Tools and equipment
  • Travel expenses (including fuel)
  • Electronics
  • Trade school tuition
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Phone and internet expenses
  • Lodging
  • Software subscriptions
  • Membership fees (unions and associations)
  • Mileage (tax write off)
  • Insurance
  • Lease payments
  • Safety equipment and uniforms
  • Subcontractors
  • Employee payroll
  • Advertising and marketing

5. Reconcile Bank and Supplier Statements

Each month your bank will send you a record of your income and expenses. You will then want to reconcile your transactions to make sure they match up with your own account organization, invoices, payments, etc .
Reconciling your transactions involves :

  • Comparing your bank records to your expense receipts
  • Looking for any discrepancies between your accounting system and your bank account
  • Comparing any transactions to what you have in your expense of revenue sheets
  • Contacting your bank to discuss any discrepancies

6. Pay Estimated Taxes

It ’ south recommended that you pay estimated quarterly taxes throughout the class to avoid any big surprises come tax time. These calculate payments can be calculated with the help of your accountant and/or your automatize accounting software .
To pay estimated quarterly taxes, you have a few options, including :

  • Signing up for the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) online
  • Paying online via the IRS website
  • Paying using debit or credit card
  • Sending a check or money order by mail to the IRS

many structure companies us a “ completion share ” approach path, meaning they calculate estimated taxes based on quarterly income and expense reports .
however, you can take a “ completed abridge ” approach a well, which involves calculating taxes owed on each condense. A benefit of this approach is that you can track income, function expenses, profit, and taxes on the micro-level so you gain a better understand of where you stand on each construction project .
The important thing is that you adopt a scheme that works best for you, and joint with it then there ’ randomness no confusion come tax time. If you need extra help, it ’ s recommended that you seek out an accountant or professional tax preparer .

7. Hire an Accountant (Optional)

While it ’ s possible to manage your account on your own, owning a construction caller comes with many complexities that may lead to you making costly report errors .
As a decentralized owner with jobs and contractors at multiple locations, it might make sense to hire a professional accountant to help you reconcile a diverseness of transactions for assorted jobs and services .
An accountant will help you make smell of the numbers, manage your books, generate reports, estimate your quarterly tax payments, and much more .
aflutter about the price ? The average hourly rate for an accountant in the U.S. is about $ 35, making it quite low-cost for the average owner. however, these rates may vary depending on the size of your company, the number of jobs and employees you manage, and your alone needs .

8. Leverage Professional Accounting Software

Invoice templates and spreadsheets will entirely take you indeed army for the liberation of rwanda. If you truly wish to master your construction accountancy and avoid dearly-won mishaps, you may want to look into on-line accountancy software .
This will make it slowly for you to send invoices online, track expenses, monitor payment status, generate fiscal reports, and more .
tied better, clients are more likely to trust businesses that use professional accounting software over manual methods because software provides a safe, convenient manner for them to pay on-line .
Plus, you ’ ll have all the tools you need to stay on top of your bookkeeping and make smart fiscal decisions .
Get started with FreshBooks ‘ accounting software for construction businesses .


construction account doesn ’ triiodothyronine have to be a headache. With the correct process, you can save time on your invoice, account, bookkeeping, and tax homework, even without previous accounting have .
Improving your process starts with understanding how construction accounting is unique, and determining the different types of job costs you can incur on each project.

The best way to stay organized is track your daily transactions, reconcile your accounts on a regular basis, and use smart account software .
With the steps in this usher, you have everything you need to do accounting for your construction party the right direction .

More Resources for Construction Accounting


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