Navigating the Accounting Revolution: ASC 842 Lease Accounting for Construction Contractors

The finance and accounting world is constantly evolving, and one of the most significant developments in recent years has been the introduction of the ASC 842 lease accounting standard. This change has had a profound impact on various industries, particularly in the construction sector, where leasing equipment and machinery are common practices. Construction contractors have found themselves at the forefront of this accounting revolution, and understanding the technical intricacies of ASC 842 is essential for successful lease accounting practices.

ASC 842, issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), aims to improve transparency and comparability in financial reporting related to leasing arrangements. It replaced previous lease accounting standards, bringing significant changes, particularly concerning operating leases. Before ASC 842, operating leases were kept off the balance sheet, leading to a lack of transparency. However, under ASC 842, operating leases are now recognized on the balance sheet, providing stakeholders with a clearer view of a company’s lease commitments and enhancing financial transparency.

Compliance with ASC 842 is vital for construction contractors as it enhances financial transparency, builds credibility with investors, facilitates informed decision-making, and ensures smooth financial audits. To navigate the changes brought forth by ASC 842, construction contractors need to embrace meticulous planning, carefully assess lease arrangements, and make strategic decisions that align with the new standard.

Key Changes and Challenges for Construction Contractors:

One of the significant changes construction contractors face with ASC 842 is the recognition of Right-of-Use (ROU) assets and lease liabilities on their balance sheets. This change significantly impacts financial reporting, requiring contractors to accurately recognize lease expenses to maintain transparency.

Reassessing lease classification and terms is also essential during the lease term. Modifications, renewals, or early terminations may occur, necessitating regular evaluations and updates to accounting records.

Lease classification is another critical consideration for construction contractors. Distinguishing between finance leases and operating leases requires a careful evaluation of lease agreements’ terms and conditions. The classification of leases impacts financial statements differently, affecting interest and depreciation expenses.

Transition Methods for Construction Contractors:

During the transition to ASC 842, construction contractors can choose the modified retrospective approach to showcase their financial performance and provide comparative data from earlier periods. ASC 842 also offers practical expedients to simplify the transition process and ease the burden on contractors.

Practical Challenges and Considerations for Construction Contractors:

Lease identification and data gathering pose challenges, especially for construction contractors dealing with diverse projects and multiple locations. Implementing systematic lease identification processes and centralizing lease data can prevent any lease arrangement from being overlooked.

Lease term and extension assessments are crucial in the construction industry, where projects are subject to uncertainty and delay. Monitoring project progress and reassessing lease terms accordingly helps maintain compliance with ASC 842.

Leases in the construction industry often involve variable payments based on usage or performance. Accurate accounting for these variable lease payments requires precise data tracking and robust lease management systems to ensure compliance.

Lease Modifications and Renegotiations in the Construction Industry

Construction projects frequently lead to lease modifications or renegotiations. Contractors must account for these modifications appropriately, reassessing lease classifications and accounting treatment. Transparent documentation is crucial to ensure compliance and prevent misrepresentation of financial performance.

Disclosures and Reporting Requirements for Construction Contractors

Enhanced disclosures under ASC 842 build trust among stakeholders and enable informed decision-making. Transparent communication ensures compliance with disclosure requirements, providing stakeholders with a deeper understanding of lease commitments and their financial impact.

Lease vs. Buy Decisions Financial Implications for Construction Contractors

Construction contractors must carefully evaluate the financial impact of lease vs. purchase options. Leasing offers flexibility and access to specialized assets, while purchasing provides ownership benefits and may lead to lower overall costs in the long run. Strategic considerations based on financial capacity, project requirements, and long-term objectives are vital in making informed decisions.

Leveraging Technology for ASC 842 Compliance in Construction

Investing in advanced accounting software and specialized lease management solutions can streamline lease data management and ensure compliance with ASC 842 requirements. Integrating ASC 842 compliance into overall financial management through cross-functional teams is essential to maintain the integrity of financial reporting processes.


ASC 842 lease accounting brings both challenges and opportunities for construction contractors. Embracing compliance and transparent financial reporting allows contractors to build trust with stakeholders and optimize their financial performance. Strategic planning and technology integration play vital roles in ensuring contractors shine as beacons of accurate and transparent financial reporting in the dynamic construction industry. By mastering the art of ASC 842 compliance, construction contractors can confidently navigate the accounting revolution and showcase their financial health with utmost transparency.