Companies must record any real estate they own on their balance sheets as long-term liabilities. Real estate developers, home builders, and companies that hire contractors to build their business property, such as offices or warehouses, must also record any building in the process of construction on their balance sheets. These companies record their current construction projects as "construction in progress." The construction in progress value reflects the total costs incurred to date.


Construction in progress, also referred to as CIP, is an accounting term used to describe the temporary, special classification of assets under construction. Companies track one or more construction projects under the CIP heading until construction is complete. Because office buildings, multifamily properties and warehouses may take several years to complete, this "temporary" classification may remain on a company's books for several years. Companies that build and manage properties may maintain separate CIP accounts for each property under development to facilitate the tracking of project expenses.


The construction in progress balance reflects the sum of all the invoices received from all the parties involved in constructing the building. This includes the architect, feasibility study consultants, surveyors, general contractor, construction manager, and utility companies that directly bill the company. A firm's CIP balance also reflects the sum of all the invoices from subcontractors, material suppliers and equipment providers that are billed indirectly through the general contractor. In addition, the CIP balance includes advance payments a company makes to parties such as its general contractor or architect to fulfill contract requirements or to ensure that the project remains on schedule.

Additional Costs

The construction in progress balance includes financing costs. Financing costs range from interest payments made during the construction period to closing costs, lender fees and recording fees. The CIP balance also includes land acquisition costs and legal fees directly tied to purchasing the property or negotiating construction and related agreements. Environmental impact fees and permit fees also appear in the CIP balance, as do any bonding costs.


Once a company completes construction and receives the certificate of occupancy for its warehouse, plant or office, the company officially places the asset in service. At that time the company removes the construction in progress account from the balance sheet, replacing it with a regular long-term asset account. Typically, companies that utilize construction financing to build a property obtain permanent financing that replaces the construction loan.

Asset Value

Lenders providing permanent financing base the loan value on the balance shown in the CIP account. Therefore, companies must practice diligence in accounting for any and all expenses tied to a particular construction project. In addition, the new asset’s balance matches the CIP balance plus any additional financing and closing costs attached to the permanent financing.