Construction accounting is a form of project accounting in which costs are assigned to specific contracts. A separate job is set up in the accounting system for each construction project, and costs are assigned to the project by coding costs to the unique job number as the costs are incurred. These costs are primarily comprised of materials and labor, with additional charges for such items as consulting and architectural fees. A number of indirect costs are also charged to construction projects, including the costs of supervision, equipment rentals, support costs, and insurance. Administrative costs are not charged to a construction project unless this is allowed by the customer.
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. This approach allows the contractor to recognize revenue and profits at regular intervals over the term of a project.
When the amount billed on a construction project is greater than the cost incurred, the difference is treated as a liability of the contractor until the cost incurred catches up with the billing.