Accounting for Loss Making Construction Contracts

Accounting treatment

If a loss is expected in respect of a construction contract, the entire loss is recognized immediately in the income statement.

This is an application of the Prudence Concept under which anticipated losses are recognized immediately in the income statement. This accounting treatment is also consistent with IAS 37 Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets which requires unavoidable losses in respect of onerous contracts to be expensed in the accounting period in which such losses become probable.

If stage of completion is calculated using cost method, then cost incurred to date is recognized in the income statement as contract cost. Entire net loss is recognized immediately in the income statement and revenue is calculated as the difference between costs incurred and net loss.

If stage of completion is calculated using value method, then revenue is recognized according to the work certified as complete. Entire net loss is recognized immediately and contract cost is calculated as the difference between revenue and net loss.

If the estimates relating to cost or revenue do not change in following periods, revenue recognized in subsequent accounting periods will equal to contract costs giving no profit and loss in later periods.

Example - Accounting for Loss Making Construction Contracts (Cost Method)

XYZ LTD is a construction firm. It enters into a 2 year fixed price contract for the construction of a building for one of its customers. Prices of construction raw materials have increased significantly since the start of the contract due to unforeseeable factors. XYZ LTD estimates stage of completion on the basis of cost. Following information is available in respect of the contract at the end of first year:

Total Contract Price2,000,000
Total Expected Costs2,500,000
Costs incurred to Date1,500,000
Amount billed to customer900,000
Progress payments received from customer700,000

Step 1 - Determine Expected Outcome of the Contract

As total expected contract costs ($2.5m) exceeds total expected revenue ($2m), the contract is expected to generate a loss of $0.5m. Therefore, entire loss should be charged as expense in the first year and the contract costs and revenue should be accounted for using stage of completion method.

Step 2 - Determine the amounts to be recognized in Income Statement for Profit, Revenue and Cost

Cost(Cost incurred during the year)1,500,000
LossEntire Expected Loss (2,500,000-2,000,000)(500,00)
Revenue(Balancing Amount: [1,500,000 - 500,000])1,000,000

Step 3 - Calculate amounts to be recognized in the Balance Sheet for Gross Amounts due to/ from Customers and Trade Receivables

Trade Receivable of XYZ LTD should be calculated as follows:

Trade Receivable = 900,000 (Amount Billed) - 700,000 (Amount Received) = $200,000

Gross Amount due from Customers of XYZ LTD must be calculated as follows:

Gross Amount due from Customer = -500,000 (Loss) + 1,500,000 (Cost Incurred) - 900,000 (Amount Billed) = $100,000

Step 4 - Prepare Extracts of Financial Statements in respect of Construction Contracts

ABC Builders LTD
Income Statement (Extracts for the Year 1)
Net Loss(500,000)

ABC Builders LTD
Balance Sheet (Extracts at the end of the Year 1)
Current Assets$
  Trade Receivables200,000
  Gross Amount due from Customers100,000

Step 5 - Prepare Construction Contract Control Account

XYZ LTD's control account would appear as follows:

Contract Control Account
Revenue Recognized1,000,000Cost Recognized1,500,000
Costs Incurred1,500,000Amount Received from customer700,000
Trade Receivable200,000
Amount due from customer100,000

In Year 2, if cost and revenue estimates do not change, following amounts will be recognized in the income statement:

Income Statement (Year 2)
Cost(2,500,000-1,500,000 (already expensed))1,000,000
Profit(No profit or loss since entire loss already recognized)-