Cost-Plus Contract

What is the Cost-Plus Contract?

Cost-Plus, mean something over and above the cost involved in completing the contract which is under consideration, the former word “Cost” will include all types of cost, i.e., direct, indirect, overhead, etc. incurred while performing the activity and the latter word “Plus” refer to profit which will include a specific percentage of income over and above the total cost of the contract as agreed by the contracting parties.

Components of a Cost-Plus Contract

There are three major components of Cost-plus contract:

Componens of Cost Plus

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  1. Direct Cost:- Direct CostDirect CostDirect costs are costs incurred by an organization while performing its core business activity and can be attributed directly in the production cost, such as raw material costs, wages paid to factory staff, power & fuel expenses in a factory, and so on, but do not include indirect costs such as advertisement costs, administrative costs, more includes the cost incurred by the contractor specific to a contract viz. labor costLabor CostCost of labor is the remuneration paid in the form of wages and salaries to the employees. The allowances are sub-divided broadly into two categories- direct labor involved in the manufacturing process and indirect labor pertaining to all other more, material cost, equipment hiring charges, and professional consultancy charges for the contract.
  2. Overhead Cost:- Overhead CostOverhead CostOverhead cost are those cost that is not related directly on the production activity and are therefore considered as indirect costs that have to be paid even if there is no production. Examples include rent payable, utilities payable, insurance payable, salaries payable to office staff, office supplies, more includes the allocable cost to the contract viz. office rent, traveling expense, insurance, office supplies, etc.
  3. Profit:- Usually, this is a fix percentage amount calculated on the cost of the project.

Types of Cost-Plus Contract

The contract can vary only in the aspect of payment of profit or fee component to the contractor.

  1. Cost + Fixed Percentage Fee:- In this, the contractor will receive the income in using a pre-decided percentage on the cost of the contract.
  2. Cost + Fixed Fee Contract:- Under this contract, the amount to be paid to the contractor is fixed and independent from the cost of the contract.
  3. Cost + Fixed percent / Fee and Incentive:- Certain contracts may have an additional incentive covenant, which states that in case of early completion of the completion of levels as mentioned in the agreement, the contractor is eligible to receive the incentive as mentioned in terms of the agreement.

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Example of Cost-Plus Contract

Let us understand the cost-plus contract with a small example.

Suppose Infra Constructions receive a contract for construction of a building, and following terms were agreed upon,
The entire cost of the project will be reimbursed to Infra Constructions (estimated costEstimated CostCost estimate is the preliminary stage for any project, operation, or program in which a reasonable calculation of all project costs is performed and thus requires precise judgement, experience, and more of the project being $ 25 million)

The profits will be 20% of the entire cost of a project subject to a max of $ 5 million.

If the project is completed within 12 months, then an incentive fee will be paid for $ 0.5 million.

Infra Construction completed the project in 11 months and hence eligible for the incentive fee of $ 0.5 million.

The total cost incurred was $ 20 million, which includes Direct labor cost, material cost, and overhead allocated to the projects. Required documents like Bills, labor hours on a project, labor cost were provided to the contractee. Therefore the total income for contractor will be = $ 20 million * 20% = $ 4 million +$ 0.5 million = $ 4.5 million.

When to Use a Cost-Plus Contract?

The cost-plus agreement will be successful only if certain systems are in place before the execution of the contract,

  1. There is a proper system to have a check on the expense incurred during the construction of the contract.
  2. A proper communication channel is established between the contractor and the contractee to keep up a knowledge of the progress of the contract.
  3. All the terms and conditions all properly mentioned in the contract to avoid disputes in the future.
  4. A contractor has sufficient funds to execute the contract as the contract cost will not be immediately paid to the contractor; he will have to pay for the expense at first. Therefore, adequate financing arrangements should be there with the contractor.
  5. A team should be there to make sure that proper accounting, budgetingBudgetingBudgeting is a method used by businesses to make precise projections of revenues and expenditure for a future specific period of time while taking into account various internal and external factors prevailing at that more, audit, and other records are maintained for the contract under consideration.

Advantages of Cost-Plus Contract

Some of the advantages of Cost-Plus Contract are as follows:


Some of the disadvantages of Cost-Plus Contract are as follows:

  • In cases of cost overrun, contractor requires to show a lot of additional evidence to justify the increase in the cost of the project
  • Disputes may arise between the contractor and contractee while reimbursement of expense
  • To avoid disagreement while settlement of the contract cost, more expense in incurring in accounting, making monthly reports, etc.
  • A project might go longer than expected.
  • Uncertainty for the contractee as the final cost of the project cannot always be easily determined.
  • The contractor will not be eligible for the incentive if the project isn’t completed within a specific time range, or penalties may be levied on the contractor for delay in completion of the project.


Cost-plus contracts are majorly found in the construction industry where the contractor is reimbursed the number of expenditures made by him for the contract and a fix percentage fees of the contract cost as the profit made on the contract.

This article has been a guide to what is Cost-Plus Contract. Here we discuss Components, types, and examples of Cost-Plus Contract along with advantages and disadvantages. You can learn more about financing from the following articles –

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