Financial Modelling Benefits: A Guide for Construction Businesses


  • Euan Middleton
Chris Thompson, author of blog about financial modelling

Contact Chris Thompson

or reach out to a member of our Corporate Finance team.

In the ever-changing and competitive landscape of the construction industry, it’s vital for companies to use every tool at their disposal to stay ahead of the curve. One such strategic tool is financial modelling, a critical element in fiscal management, risk mitigation and the planning process.

But why is financial modelling so vital for the construction industry? The answer lies in its capability to forecast future performance, enhance long-term financial planning and analyse the impact of strategic decisions. Combined, these ensure that construction businesses have a clear financial roadmap ahead. By applying financial decision-making in construction through robust models, companies can gauge:

  • Viability of projects,
  • Manage financial risks, and
  • Lay a solid foundation for sustainability and growth.


Understanding Financial Modelling for Construction Businesses

Financial modelling for construction businesses is an intricate process that goes beyond standard financial statements to an elaborate planning system which builds in revenue and profit drivers, as well as unique industry challenges. Financial models help businesses in the construction industry in appraising project viability, investment opportunities, and facilitate effective cash flow and cost management.

Components of a Financial Model for a Construction Business

An effective financial model for a construction business should rely on historical performance, operational strategy, market conditions, industry trends and projections, encompassing the following key components:

  • Revenue Forecasting: Revenue modelling is more than just projecting sales. It’s about understanding the nuances of each construction contract and its implications on future revenue streams. Factoring in anticipated growth rate, historical performance, probability of project acquisition, market conditions, and the timing of revenue recognition is essential for effective strategic financial forecasting in construction.
  • Cost Forecasting: Every construction project has a unique cost structure. A detailed cost analysis includes variable and fixed costs, direct and indirect expenses, and the identification of the breakeven point. Material costs, Labour costs, Equipment costs, Subcontractor costs all come into play. Additionally, overhead expenses, such as salaries, utilities, insurance, and office rent, must be factored in to ensure a comprehensive assessment of the project’s financial requirements.
  • Debt Structuring: Construction projects often involve substantial financing. A financial model evaluates different financing scenarios, analyses debt covenants, and ensures optimal debt management.
  • Investment Analysis: Large-scale construction often involves considerable investment. A financial model should provide insights into the payback period, return on investment (ROI), and the internal rate of return (IRR) for each project or investment.
  • Capital Expenditure Management: Construction businesses are typically very capital-intensive, with a significant turnover in plant, machinery, and vehicles, which can be funded either as outright cash purchase or asset finance (HP, lease, ABL).  A financial model can provide a construction business with the ability to identify optimal capital expenditure funding policy, taking consideration of longer payment terms to conserve cash flow, at the expense of higher interest payments and a larger “debt” balance for the business.
  • Working Capital Analysis: Management of working capital is vital for construction businesses, to ensure that the business can continue to pay staff, suppliers, meet tax obligations and repay borrowing.  High profile collapses in the industry in recent years have highlighted the potential for even the largest construction businesses to suffer from poor working capital management.  Effective modelling of working capital flows across the year, taking into consideration seasonality as well as potentially long collection cycles depending on the type of construction projects, will be key to ensure the business has sufficient cash to meet its obligations as they come due.
  • Financial Statements and Ratios: A detailed layer of the financial model scrutinises the mixture of equity and debt, providing insights into optimal project investment returns. The model should synthesise data into financial statements such as profit & loss, balance sheet, and cash flow statements. Significant financial ratios such as gross margin, EBITDA margin, liquidity ratios, and leverage ratios also provide crucial oversight.


Steps to Develop a Robust Financial Model

To create an insightful financial model, a step-by-step process should be followed:

  1. Data Collection: Gather historical data and market research. Understand the cost drivers, pricing strategies, and revenue patterns of the construction industry.
  2. Develop Assumptions: Based on the data collected, from material and labour costs to equipment and subcontractor expenses, build realistic and defendable assumptions that will shape your financial forecasting efforts and serve as the foundation for financial projections.
  3. Construct the Model: Using software such as Microsoft Excel, create the financial model structure, incorporating the various assumptions and financial elements.
  4. Testing and Validation: Run various scenarios to test the sensitivity of the model to changes in assumptions to validate the robustness of the model.
  5. Final Review and Use: Share the model with stakeholders, incorporate feedback, and begin using it for decision-making processes.

Best Practices for Financial Modelling for Construction Businesses

  • It is essential to use conservative assumptions and consider the worst-case scenarios to safeguard against over-optimism.  Clearly setting out these assumptions in a detailed inputs page which flows through the financial model allows for assumptions to be challenged and updated, while also keeping the integrity of the model intact.
  • Engage industry experts and reviewers to validate the assumptions and methodologies used in the model for enhanced credibility. A thorough analysis of economic trends, market conditions, and regulatory impacts help businesses anticipate challenges and adapt their strategies accordingly. This includes analysing GDP growth, inflation rates, and trends in interest rates, as they directly impact the construction industry’s performance.
  • Additionally, the regulatory environment plays a pivotal role, with considerations including government regulations and permitting requirements. These factors significantly influence cost and timelines, shaping the overall feasibility and profitability of construction projects.
  • Keep the model user-friendly with clear documentation, allowing other stakeholders to understand the logic and make updates if required.


Strategic Planning and Competitive Edge

With a comprehensive financial model, construction firms can simulate how strategic decisions, like entering a new market or adopting a new technology, impact their financial future. This forward-looking approach provides a considerable competitive advantage by enabling data-driven strategies which consider pricing, procurement, and project delivery timelines. Furthermore, the construction industry is notorious for its relatively low margins and comparatively long collections cycle presenting potential working capital concerns. A financial model plays a crucial role in managing working capital effectively for a business.

Improved Decision-Making for Major Projects

The financial analysis of major projects is pivotal. Large projects carry substantial risks and implications for the company’s financial health. A well-constructed financial model illuminates these factors, identifying funding gaps and guiding leaders through the complex decision-making process necessary when embarking on significant projects.

Enhanced Reporting and Negotiations

The results derived from a well-crafted financial model streamline the preparation of board packs and underscore potential challenges in the upcoming months and years. When entering partnerships or negotiations with significant stakeholders, such as lenders, a financial model is invaluable during discussions as it offers a robust tool in dissecting terms of contracts, evaluating profitability, and provides reassurance, strengthening negotiations.

Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility

Financial models can also incorporate elements of sustainability by budgeting for green technologies and processes and projecting their long-term financial planning benefits. This approach aligns with corporate responsibility and the increasing importance of sustainable practices within the industry.


In the complex world of construction, financial modelling provides a strategic roadmap and a navigational aid in the ever-shifting industry. It delivers clear insights for strategic financial forecasting, sharpens construction financial analysis, and enhances the proficiency of financial decision-making in construction.

For those seeking to deepen their understanding of financial modelling, the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) provided by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors offers a rich array of resources and data, including benchmarking and cost analysis within the UK construction industry.

Construction businesses should prioritise the development and utilisation of robust financial models. The benefits outlined are clear. In collaboration with our Construction & Property experts, your business can construct a more robust financial foundation for the future.

If you have any queries about how to begin using financial modelling please do not hesitate to get in contact with Chris Thompson, or a member of our Construction & Property team.

How AAB can help you with

Corporate Finance

When you need comprehensive, dependable support at any stage of your business journey, our corporate finance team will provide practical and motivating advice to help you progress with confidence. Throughout the landmark events of your business lifecycle, our specialist corporate finance team will guide you with sound, proven advice. AAB corporate finance can help you through the good times of growth and maturity, and be ready to support you should you encounter challenges such as restructuring or litigation.

View our corporate finance service


  • Euan Middleton

Related services

Sign up for the latest industry insights

  1. Blog15th Jul 2020

    Key Considerations for M&A during COVID-19

    There is no hiding from the fact that the Scottish M&A market has been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.  A staggering number of deals have been put on hold or shelved completely over the past 3 months, as both…

    By Chris Thompson

    View more
  2. Blog4th Apr 2020

    Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS)

    *Updated 19 May* The Government announced changes to the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme on 19 May, to include that larger businesses will benefit from loans up to the lower of 25% of turnover, or £200m. The changes are…

    By Chris Thompson

    View more