What is construction in progress (CIP)?

December 17, 2009

1. Nature of construction in progress (CIP)

Fixed assets, which are also called property, plant and equipment, go through a few stages in their life at any enterprise. First, assets are acquired or constructed. Second, the assets are put in use and serve the company. During this time, the assets are depreciated. Finally, when the assets are used to their full extent, they are written off and potentially replaced with new assets.

The first stage – assets are acquired or constructed – may be quick or may take an extended period of time. On one side, there are computers, vehicles or similar fixed assets which don't require much additional preparation work after they are purchased before they can be used by the company. On the other side, there are assets that may take weeks, months or event years before they are fully functional and ready for use. Such assets may be production lines, buildings, etc.

Fixed assets under construction represent Construction in Progress (CIP) and are recorded in a similar named general ledger account. They remain in such an account until the assets are put in service, at which time the costs of the assets are transferred into respective property, plant and equipment accounts.

The CIP account, therefore, accumulates costs for a fixed asset until it is ready for use. The cost can be accumulated from vendor invoices (for items purchased), use of company's inventory items in the fixed asset construction, transportation and other expenses to make the asset ready for use.

The CIP account usually contains information for multiple fixed assets under construction. To differentiate costs in the account, they may be categorized by a project. A project is usually one fixed asset.

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