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Accounting for Builders

Running a building business is plain hard work and there are no short cuts to success. Apart from the physical demands of the work you also need planning and scheduling skills to manage your cash flow and sub-contractors. The long hours, travel and industry regulations come with the job and they probably explain why builders and trades people struggle with their bookkeeping and administration responsibilities. Some of the largest financial obligations for a self employed builder include GST, BAS and tax payments but we still find many builders paying excessive tax and incurring fines for non-compliance.

Here at Southbank Business Group (SBG Accountants) we understand the building industry and our knowledge of the building trades can mean the difference between thriving and just surviving. Apart from the usual small business compliance issues of GST, BAS, PAYG and superannuation, we assist clients with managing their cash flow and selecting the right software to prepare quotes, invoices and manage their staff and apprentices.


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Starting a building business is a bit like building a house. The foundations of your business are your taxation structure, accounting software and marketing. Your choice of business structure is critical and there are a number of different options such as sole trader, partnership, company and trust. Asset protection is a key consideration because of the risks associated with the building industry and we also discuss your family situation, profit projections and future plans regarding admission of new business partners when making recommendations regarding your proposed business structure.

Accounting software selection is another brick in the foundation wall. Again, the wrong choice can be catastrophic because poor business records are one of the biggest causes of business failure. You need up to date, accurate financial records to make informed business decisions which is why we insist your accounting  software matches your business needs and level of accounting skill. Using sophisticated double entry accounting software without a reasonable level of accounting skill will simply create a computerised shoebox. We aim to minimise the cost of compliance for our clients but shoebox records will defeat the purpose. Once we evaluate your business needs and skills we then train you to use the software.

As you know, to build a house you also need the right tools. When constructing your business we also use a number of tools including our start up expense checklist to identify all your potential establishment costs. It dissects your start up costs into several categories including tools, equipment, IT expenses, professional fees and marketing costs. 

These figures can then be transferred into a cash flow budget template to produce a projected trading statement for your first year of operations. For a builder, your van, truck or ute is arguably your most important business tool. You can download our Motor Vehicle Tax Guide from the resources section of our website to learn more about the alternative methods of claiming your vehicle expenses and the distinction between a business and private trip for tradesmen. In addition, through our affiliate partners we can also assist with vehicle finance (chattel mortgage, CHP or lease) and get you fleet pricing on your new car, ute or light commercial van that could save you thousands of dollars.

We are not your traditional accounting firm who see the tax return as the end of the client process. To be honest, that’s just the beginning. As accountants we can do some financial modelling and prepare some ‘what if’ scenarios so you understand your best and worst case profit scenarios. Next, using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your business against your peers so you understand what is working in the business and what areas you need to work on.


For small business owners, your marketing can be the difference between gloom, doom and boom.

Most builders rely on their reputation and referrals to grow their business and while these ingredients remain important, you need to shift your marketing focus online. Increasingly local searches like ‘Builder South Melbourne’ are driving traffic to your website and often your website is the first touch point with a potential new customer. As you know, you only get one chance to make a good first impression and your website is your silent sales person working 24/7 to promote your business.

One of our biggest points of difference compared to other accounting firms is our marketing expertise. We can assist you with your branding (business name, logo and slogan), your corporate brochure and help you harness the power of social media to win more referrals. Over the past few years we have worked with dozens of tradie clients to help them create affordable, quality lead generation websites that are responsive to smart phones and tablets. We can provide advice and guidance with your website content including video production and if your website lacks calls to action or lead magnets we'll help you build them. In addition, we'll introduce you to strategies like re-marketing and search engine optimization to drive more traffic to your website.

If you aren’t using some of these marketing techniques your business probably won't reach its full profit potential.

The marketing process begins with your branding and we have worked through the process with dozens of clients over the years and using some online resources we can help you build a modern brand that resonates with your target market. We can even help you develop your stationery at a fraction of the cost of engaging a graphic artist or marketing consultant.

Our role includes helping you understand the Four Ways to Grow A Business and in the process, identify the key profit drivers in your business. We can talk you through various profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Our role is to make sure you don't leave any profit on the table.

As specialists in the building industry we offer you an extensive range of accounting, taxation and business coaching services that are tailored to your needs. Some of our services include:

  • Start-Up Business Advice for Builders
  • Tools including the Start-Up Expense Checklist and Templates for a Business Plan, Cash Flow Budget, Letterhead and Business Card
  • Advice and Assistance with the Establishment of Your Business Structure
  • Tax Registrations including ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
  • Preparation of Business Plans, Cash Flow Forecasts and Profit Projections
  • Accounting Software Selection and Training – Bookkeeping, Invoicing, Quotes & Payroll
  • Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Preparation of Finance Applications
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
  • Tax Planning Strategies
  • Assistance with your Marketing including your Branding, Corporate Brochure etc.
  • Advice and Assistance with your Website Development, Content and SEO
  • Wealth Creation Strategies and Financial Planning Services
  • Industry Benchmarking and KPI Management
  • Vehicle & Equipment Finance (Chattel Mortgage & Lease)
  • Monitoring and Controlling Labour and Sub-Contractor Costs
  • Advice & Assistance with Pricing and Claiming Motor Vehicle Expenses
  • Recession Survival Strategies
  • Advice regarding Employee Relations and Workplace Laws
  • Business & Risk Insurances (Income Protection, Life Insurance etc.)
  • Business Succession Planning

We are not your typical Melbourne accounting firm. We pride ourselves on being business and profit builders who provide a full range of accounting, tax and business coaching services to builders from all around Australia. If you are starting out as a builder or want to take your existing building business to the next level, contact us today.

We invite you to book a FREE, one hour introductory consultation to discuss your business needs. You can expect practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice that could have a significant impact on your bottom line. To book a time, call us today on (03) 9629 6744 or complete your details in the box at the top of this page. Let's get to work ON your business so it is more profitable, valuable and saleable.

SBG Accountants & Business Advisors - Taking Care of Business