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Blueprints for Success: Choosing the Right Entity Structure for Your Construction Business

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In the dynamic realm of the construction industry, the choice of entity structure can significantly impact business operations, legal obligations, tax liabilities, and the ability to raise capital. Whether you are a solo contractor, a partnership of experienced builders, or a burgeoning corporation, selecting the appropriate entity structure requires careful consideration. Although no entity structure can guarantee exemption from all liabilities, there are ways to protect your business. So, let's explore the four main entity structures within the construction industry and their respective advantages and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision.


Sole Proprietorships

A sole proprietorship is one of the most straightforward business structures and is ideal for a one-person construction endeavor. Quick and inexpensive to establish, with minimal legal formalities and paperwork, it grants the sole proprietor control over decision-making and direct access to profits, providing a direct financial incentive for entrepreneurial success. Tax filings are simplified. For example, sole proprietors report business income and expenses on their personal tax returns and may be eligible for small business tax deductions and credits. However, this autonomy comes with a significant trade-off of unlimited personal liability, exposing your personal assets to business debts, liabilities, or legal claims. 


Despite its ease of setup and tax benefits, a sole proprietorship may not be the most strategic choice for those seeking capital, aspiring to expand their business, or safeguarding personal assets.  



Business partnerships are similar to sole proprietorships but involve two or more individuals sharing business ownership. Within this collaborative framework, each partner contributes capital to the business and assumes less financial risk when compared to sole ownership. Additionally, in the construction industry, where projects can be complex and diverse, combining resources, skills, and expertise can enhance the company's capabilities, lighten workloads, and lessen financial burdens. However, partners experience a loss of control, as all decisions require collective approval, and disagreements among partners may arise due to structural loopholes. 


Partnerships benefit from pass-through taxation, with profits and losses reported on individual tax returns. This structure avoids double taxation and may qualify for a 20 percent deduction on tax returns.


In general partnerships, partners share equal liability for debts and obligations of the business. Therefore, personal assets are at risk in case of lawsuits, claims, or financial difficulties. In limited partnerships, partners have liability protection with limited involvement.


If choosing to structure your business entity as a partnership, drafting a thorough partnership agreement is crucial to define each partner's roles, responsibilities, and profit-sharing arrangements.



Forming a corporation is a complex process due to rigorous legal and regulatory requirements, such as filing articles of incorporation, holding regular shareholder meetings, and complying with corporate governance regulations. Moreover, a corporation often incurs significant costs, including incorporation fees, ongoing compliance obligations, and administrative expenses.


Despite these complexities, corporations offer distinct advantages, including limited liability protection, perpetual existence, separation of ownership, and capital. With limited liability protection, personal assets are generally shielded and kept separate from business debts and liabilities. Perpetual existence ensures long-term stability and allows corporations to operate despite changes in ownership. Shareholders elect a board of directors to make business decisions on their behalf, further accentuating this distinction. Corporations can easily attract investors and raise capital via stocks and bonds to facilitate business growth, expand operations, and invest in large-scale construction projects, equipment, and technology. These benefits offer extra layers of security, particularly crucial in the construction industry, where projects can involve significant risks and potential legal liabilities. 


Corporations have flexibility in structuring tax arrangements through C-corporations and S-corporations. C-corporations tend to be large companies and are not pass-through entities. These entities have no restriction on ownership, are separate legal entities from owners, pay taxes at the entity level, face double taxation on dividends, encounter higher overall tax liabilities, and receive no personal tax credits. S-corporations are pass-through entities with specific eligibility criteria, such as having fewer than 100 shareholders and being a U.S. corporation. These entities offer limited liability, avoid double taxation, and may qualify for a 20 percent deduction for qualified business income.


Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a favored option for construction firms because it combines the simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership with limited liability protection. For example, personal assets remain protected from business debts and lawsuits. Furthermore, it offers flexibility in management structures and allows pass-through taxation. The profits and losses are reported on individual tax returns, simplifying tax filing for small construction enterprises. These entities have no restriction on ownership, allow owners to choose their preferred tax treatment, and can opt for different tax classifications, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, C-corporation, or S-corporation. Establishing an LLC may involve state-specific requirements, such as filing fees, annual reports, and ongoing administrative obligations. While the administrative burden is generally lower than that of corporations, there are still costs associated with maintaining compliance with state regulations. Berman Hopkins CPAs & Associates typically recommends the formation of an LLC for new entities because of its favored liability protection and charging order protection. We tailor the taxation method on an entity-by-entity basis after weighing the pros versus the cons.


Reassessing Your Entity Structure

Each business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages. Remember that your choice is not set in stone. As your construction business grows, you can reassess your structure to ensure it remains aligned with your goals. 


Experts in Construction Advisory Services

Construction Advisory Experts

As one of the Top 50 Construction Accounting Firms in the United States (Construction Executive 2021, 2022, & 2023), we build long-term, value-added relationships and provide solid solutions that help positively impact your construction business. With over 66 years of leadership, experience, and expertise, our talented team of CPAs and advisors fully understand the nuances of the construction industry and provide resources beyond the traditional audit, accounting, and tax services to construction businesses throughout the country, with revenues ranging from $5 million to $500 million.

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Partner with us to unlock the full potential of your construction business and embark on a journey of sustainable growth and success. Contact us today to begin building a brighter future.


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