This Podcast Is Episode Number 488, And It's About Ways To Get Rid Of Construction Accounting And Bookkeeping Confusions Doing something different is hard. Do you feel like everyone else is the most brilliant person in the room, and you just don't get it? Getting into a rut and repeatedly doing the same things is easy.
If those things work, then yes, continue to do them repeatedly. The problem is when something is not working, and you continue down the same path expecting a different result. The opposite of too much change can create another form of chaos. How do you know what is broken if you change a zillion things all at once?
Looking for ways to make your job easier is the goal of all construction contractors. The last thing you want to hear from your staff or a trade contractor is, "Do you want me to do that over?" Your answer is "No!" (thundered, with many extra words). What you expected was that your staff did it correctly the first time.
In accounting, the first piece of the confusion comes from Construction Accounting Vs. Regular Accounting. Not everyone knows what construction accounting is, and easy to assume all accounting is the same.
Why is there confusion? From a tax standpoint, most construction projects are all lumped together, and after the Cost of Good Sold, Expenses, and Depreciation, you either made money or didn't. The Tax Accountant rolls up the numbers to compete for the annual tax return. Therefore, if the information is not needed to be broken down for taxes, then the Tax Accountant is not concerned.
As the Construction Contractor paying the bills, you are constantly concerned about which jobs are "Making Money or Losing Money." "Why does it seem like I am watching the money fly by and zooming out of my checking account? It never seems like there is any money left over!"
Second, confusion always comes about the material. A construction contractor may purchase material and resell it to their customer. Thereby thinking it is a reimbursable expense. (You lose money when doing this).
Remember all invoices to the Customer (Retail, General Contractor, Spec Builder, Developer) are income. Every line item on a customer invoice is All INCOME. If the words are on the invoice, then the invoice is either taxable or non-taxable based on other factors. Washington State, for instance, has a clear explanation.
Purchases for the material are Cost of Goods Sold or are expenses if you are short-cutting your accounting. I have seen financial statements that are backed out because they will reflect reimbursable income as a negative number and thereby show it as a deduction. (The net effect is double dipping on the expense side) The cause is the accounting software not correctly set up.
New Construction Home Building is another area of confusion. In the mind of many construction contractors, a Spec home is any new house being built for resale. That is true; it is a New Construction House. It is a Spec Home for the Owner and Developer (who might be the General Contractor running the job). The question is on the construction accounting side.
The question to be answered is "Who owns the house?" - It is a Spec House in the accounting system for the owner. For the General Contractor who is building a New Construction Home for a Developer, it is NOT a Spec Home. Why might it seem the same as both are New Construction Houses?
If the General Contractor Does Not Own the house, then from an accounting side for that specific General Contractor, the house is a Custom Home with an owner who is not The General Contractor.
Recognize expenses when the house sells. If the General Contractor, Developer Owns the new House being built, then it is a Spec House in the Accounting System. All costs roll up into WIP (Work-In-Process) and convert to COGS when the house is sold, not before. Otherwise, expenses one year; sales the next equals taxes.
In Washington State:
All Construction Contracto