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Best Practices for a Construction Balance Sheet: A Beginner's Guide

Updated: Jul 1

Understanding the best practices for preparing a construction balance sheet is essential for contractors who want to maintain a clear view of their financial health. A balance sheet, when used correctly, can provide invaluable insights into the viability of your construction business. Let's delve into the fundamental practices that every contractor should follow to ensure their balance sheet is both accurate and informative.

construction balance sheet

What is a Construction Balance Sheet

Before diving into best practices, let's clarify what a construction balance sheet entails. Essentially, it's a snapshot of your company's financial position at a specific point in time. It summarizes your assets, liabilities, and equity, providing stakeholders with a clear picture of your financial health.

A balance sheet for a construction company serves several crucial purposes:

  • Provides a clear picture of assets, liabilities, and equity.

  • Helps in assessing the financial stability and operational efficiency.

  • Securing loans and investments.

  • Strategic planning and decision-making.

Key Components of a Construction Balance Sheet

A balance sheet comprises several key elements. Each element represents different aspects of the company’s financial situation:

1. Assets

  • Current Assets: These are short-term assets expected to be converted into cash within a year. They include cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and other liquid assets. Example: Cash on hand, materials stored for upcoming projects.

  • Long-Term Assets: These are assets that will provide value for more than one year, such as property, plant, and equipment. Example: Construction machinery, office buildings, company vehicles.

2. Liabilities

  • Current Liabilities: These are short-term debts and obligations due within a year, including accounts payable, short-term loans, and other immediate financial responsibilities. Example: Payments due to suppliers, short-term loans for project financing.

  • Long-Term Liabilities: These are obligations that extend beyond one year, such as long-term loans, mortgages, and bonds payable. Example: Mortgage on company property, long-term equipment loans.

3. Equity:

This represents the owner's interest in the company, calculated as total assets minus total liabilities. It includes invested capital and retained earnings. Example: Initial investment by the owner, retained earnings from previous projects.

Formula: Equity = Assets - Liabilities

4. Retained Earnings: 

Retained earnings are the cumulative net earnings or profits that the company has retained, rather than distributed to shareholders as dividends. These funds can be reinvested into the business for growth and expansion.

Best Practices for a Construction Balance Sheet

Here are the detailed practices to ensure your balance sheet is precise and reliable. 

1. Maintain Accurate Records

Maintaining accurate and detailed records is the foundation of any reliable balance sheet. Here’s how to ensure accuracy:

  • Consistent Record-Keeping: Make it a habit to record every financial transaction promptly. This includes invoices, receipts, payments, and any financial adjustments.

  • Use Digital Tools: Leverage construction bookkeeping software like Sage 100 Contractor vs QuickBooks. These tools automate many aspects of bookkeeping, reducing the likelihood of errors and ensuring consistency.

2. Regular Reconciliation: 

Regular reconciliations in construction of financial statements is vital to maintaining their accuracy. Reconciling involves comparing your accurate financial records with external statements, such as bank statements, to ensure they match.

  • Bank Reconciliation: Compare your bank statements with your internal records to identify any discrepancies. Using accounting software like Sage 100 Contractor vs QuickBooks can simplify this process.

  • Accounts Receivable: Regularly review your accounts receivable to ensure all invoices are accounted for and accurately recorded.

  • Accounts Payable: Make sure all supplier invoices are recorded correctly and paid on time.

3. Separate Project Finances

Construction projects can have vastly different financial profiles. Separating project finances allows for better management and analysis:

  • Project-Specific Accounts: Create separate accounts for each project. This helps in tracking the income and expenses specific to each project without confusion.

  • Detailed Reporting: Use construction project accounting practices to generate detailed reports for each project. These reports should include costs, revenues, and profit margins.

4. Follow Construction Accounting Standards

  • GAAP Compliance: Ensuring your construction balance sheet complies with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) is essential for maintaining accuracy and consistency. These principles provide a standardized framework for financial reporting, making your balance sheet more reliable and comparable.

  • Construction-Specific Standards: Pay attention to standards specific to the construction industry, such as those set by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). These standards address unique aspects of construction accounting, like long-term contracts and project-based accounting.

5. Use a Balance Sheet Template

Using a standardized template can simplify the preparation process and ensure consistency:

  • Template Benefits: A balance sheet template construction includes all necessary components, ensuring nothing is overlooked. It also helps maintain a uniform format across different reporting periods.

  • Customization: Customize the template to fit your company’s specific needs. Ensure it includes sections for all relevant assets, liabilities, and equity items.

Conclusion

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your construction balance sheet is accurate, reliable, and useful for making informed business decisions. Regular updates, accurate record-keeping, project-specific accounting, adherence to standards, and professional involvement are key components of a robust financial management strategy. If managing your construction finances seems overwhelming, consider our specialized Construction Cost Accounting services. We use leading construction bookkeeping software like Sage 100 Contractor vs QuickBooks to provide accurate, timely, and compliant financial reporting. Contact us today to streamline your financial management and focus on growing your business.

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