Constructed and Fabricated Asset Policy

Summary of Policy

The constructed and fabricated asset policy of Dartmouth College determines the proper classification of costs for new construction, renovations, improvements, maintenance projects, and equipment. This policy has been developed to assist project managers and others with the important task of distinguishing between capital and non-capital costs, the accounting treatment for these costs, and the process to set up capital or fabricated projects. Costs that are capitalized are depreciated over their useful lives. Costs that are not capitalized are recorded as an expense in the year incurred.

Affected Parties

All Groups

Policy Statement

Construction in progress (CIP) refers to all construction, renovation, improvement, fabrication, and customization projects or non-recurring extraordinary repairs and maintenance (such as flood damage repairs) where capital costs are greater than or equal to $50,000.

Fabricated equipment refers to equipment that is assembled or manufactured by Dartmouth using purchased materials and in-house machinery, tools, and labor.  Fabricated equipment costing $25,000 or more and having a useful life of one year or more must be accounted for as construction in progress (CIP) until completion when it is placed into service as moveable equipment. Fabricated equipment costing $5,000 to $24,999 and having a useful life of one year or more must be recorded as moveable equipment. Reference Property, Plant, and Equipment Management Policy (ID: 024-0001) for more information.

Capital Costs of $50,000 or more incurred for a single project/purchase which are considered to be one of the following: (1) construction costs, fabrication, or a purchase that creates one new asset; (2) an improvement, renovation/replacement that either extends the life or adds value or functionality to an existing asset; (3) costs that correct functional inadequacies, change the use of an existing asset, or are necessary to put an asset into service, or (4) application/development stage costs for software, algorithm(s), and/or website development. See Appendix F for guidance regarding specific capital costs and how to record and account for them.


  • Single project/purchase – expenditures or purchases related to one asset
  • Fabrication – using purchased material, labor, and programming to assemble or manufacture equipment
  • Improvement – additions to existing systems, space, or components
  • Renovation/replacement – removal of existing systems, components, or space and the construction of new systems, components, or space in its place.
  • Application/development stage costs – purchase or design, configuration, software interface, coding, algorithm development, testing, development or purchase of data conversion software, or upgrades that result in additional functionality

Examples of Capital Costs:

  • Construction of a new building or an addition to an existing building that increases the square footage. Installation of new fixed equipment or building systems such as lockers or a security system.
  • Land/site improvements such as new parking lots, paving a gravel parking lot, sidewalks, wells, septic systems, tunnels, or initial landscaping.
  • Replacement of a building system such as mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems or a roof.
  • Renovation of the entire interior, an entire floor, classrooms, or offices.
  • Customized moveable equipment such as servers, microscopes, medical equipment, etc.
  • Website development to provide information, solicit contributions, etc.

Non-Capital/Maintenance Costs (expensed):

(1) Capital projects of less than $50,000 and moveable equipment purchases of less than $25,000; (2) Costs which neither materially add to the value of an existing asset nor appreciably prolong its economic useful life, but keep it in ordinary, efficient operating condition. These costs are considered normal, recurring, periodic, and necessary to maintain the asset's economic useful life for the use(s) for which it was acquired or constructed; (3) Preliminary stage and planning costs for software/algorithm development and construction projects; (4) Post-implementation stage costs for software development.

Examples of Non-Capital Costs (expensed):

  • Exterior and interior painting of buildings, not part of new construction or a major renovation project. Recurring planned major maintenance activities such as overhauls or refurbishments.
  • Re-planting of trees, shrubs, and bushes. Repairs and cleaning of masonry or roofs.
  • Evaluating various software solutions to identify software needs.
  • Costs of planning and studies related to potential capital projects (preliminary stage).    
  • Travel, meals, conference fees for Dartmouth employees.
  • Moveable equipment such as laptops, printers, and audio/visual equipment. See Appendix C Additional Guidance for Specific Types of Equipment - Audio Visual Systems for more guidance.  

CIP Account Maintenance:

Setting up a CIP account:

Once a project has met the capitalization criteria set forth in this policy, a unique chart string must be created for the CIP. A CIP Account Setup Form (form attached at bottom of page) must be prepared and submitted to with project details, intended budget and budget details, and intended funding sources to request unique CIP funding and activity values. Approvals for the project budget and funding are required prior to CIP account creation. Approvals can be gathered by Financial Reporting once the CIP set-up form is submitted.

CIP budget approvals:  Generally speaking, a CIP budget must be approved as part of the capital budget approval process. See FOM "Starting a Capital Project" page for more information. If a project arises outside of the capital budget approval timeline, an off-cycle request can be made pursuant to Appendix E of the Signature Authority Policy (Policy ID: 024-0040). Approvals will be documented by written communication within the CIP Account Setup form. Contact for assistance with this process.

CIP Funding approvals: Once the funding source(s) for a capital project have been determined, they must undergo the same approval process as the budget. Additional approval is required from the division fiscal officer(s) associated with the funding chart string(s). Approvals will be documented by written communication within the CIP Account Setup Form. Contact for assistance with this process.

Using a CIP account:

Once a CIP chart string has been established, project costs must be recorded directly to the unique string. Review Appendix H Capital Projects Natural Class Definitions (attached at the bottom of the page) for guidance regarding recording CIP transactions in the appropriate capital and non-capital natural classes. The Controller's Office will transfer funds from the identified funding source(s) to the CIP chart string as prescribed in the CIP Account Setup Form on a monthly basis. If a change to the budget, funding source, or other project details is needed, submission to is required and the updates will undergo additional approval processes as outlined above.

Closing CIP account

When a project is substantially complete and determined to be in service, the project must be componentized, and the underlying assets must be entered into the Oracle Fixed Asset module and depreciated over their useful lives. Substantial completion is defined as:  

"The stage in the progress of the Work when the Work or designated portion thereof is sufficiently complete in accordance with the Contract Documents and applicable permits and approvals so that the Owner can occupy or utilize the Work for its intended use, with only minor punch list items remaining. The Work will not be considered suitable for Substantial Completion review, and the Contractor shall not be deemed to have achieved Substantial Completion until: (i) all Project systems included in the Work have been started up, tested, and are operational as designed and scheduled; (ii) to the extent reasonably required, the Contractor has instructed Owner's personnel in the operation of all systems and equipment; (iii) the site has been cleaned up and complete reclamation, including without limitation removal of excess materials, rock, sand, paving, debris, dumpsters, supplies, equipment and trailers, and disconnection of temporary utilities, and (iv) the Contractor has arranged for and obtained all designated or required governmental inspections, written approvals, and certifications necessary for legal use and occupancy of the completed Project."

Once the substantially complete status is confirmed by the project managers, the date of substantial completion is used to determine when the project will be componentized. The Financial Reporting Analyst will complete the Componentization Template for each project and refer to the Componentization Guide for a list of components and a reasonable method for allocating total project costs to these components. Once Financial Reporting has componentized a project and all trailing costs have been recorded, the Project string will be disabled, and the CIP account closed. No further charges can be charged to the unique CIP string.


Fabricated Equipment Accounting Process

Fabricated equipment with an estimated cost of $5,000 or greater and a useful life of one or more years must be recorded in the Fixed Asset Module. Please refer to the Property, Plant, and Equipment Policy Appendix E for information regarding both capital and non-capital equipment thresholds.

Fabricated Equipment $5,000 - $24,999

For fabrication projects with an estimated cost of $5,000 or greater, complete an Intent to Fabricate Form and send to the Fixed Asset/Surplus Property Administrator. Some grant agreements may require tracking fabricated equipment under the standard threshold of $5,000. Fixed Assets must be contacted prior to acquiring property that does not fit within Dartmouth's standard Property Plant and Equipment Policy.

Fabricated Equipment Greater than $25,000

For fabrication projects with an estimated cost of $25,000 or greater, a CIP Account Setup Form (form at the bottom of the page) must be completed to request CIP Funding and Activity values. As fabricated equipment CIPs do not fall under the capital budget approval process or Appendix E of the Signature Authority Policy, approval from the PI and a completed Intent to Fabricate Form are required prior to CIP account creation.

Funding Approval: Fabricated equipment CIPs do not require the same funding approval as construction CIPs. If the funding comes from a grant, the signed Intent to Fabricate Form and notification to the relevant post-award grant manager in OSP will meet the approval requirements to create the CIP account. Funding from any other sources requires the approval of the division fiscal officer.

As costs are incurred for the fabricated equipment, record CIP transactions to Natural Class 1724-CIP CONST Moveable Equip or the applicable internal Natural Class(s) (see Appendix H for guidance).

Financial Reporting will enter fabricated assets into the Oracle Fixed Asset Module when they are complete and put into use. When the fabricated equipment is complete and in service, notify the Fixed Assets/Surplus Property Administrator by sending the IRA GL Transaction report and indicate the completion date and useful life to  The Fixed Assets/Surplus Property Administrator will notify Financial Reporting. Financial Reporting will complete the Componentization Template, disable the CIP chart string, and capitalize the equipment.

Disposals and Transfers

The Fixed Asset/Surplus Property Administrator must be notified of all disposals or change of location of fabricated equipment through transfer, sale, gift, donation, recycle, disposal, or retirement in order to properly account for sales proceeds and gain/loss on sale, location information, and/or removal of the asset and corresponding accumulated depreciation from the Oracle Fixed Asset Module.  Additionally, Financial Reporting must be notified of all partial and complete building demolitions. Please refer the Property Disposition Policy for information regarding both capital and non-capital property disposals.


Related Policies

Property, Plant, and Equipment Management Policy (ID 024-0001)

Property Disposition Policy (ID 024-0008)

Signature Authority Policy (ID 024-0040)

Internal Loan Policy (ID 024-0010)



Appendix A Definitions

Appendix C Additional Guidance for Specific Types of Equipment

Appendix E Property, Plant, and Equipment Thresholds

Appendix F Constructed Asset Guidance for Specific Costs

Appendix H Capital Projects Natural Class Definitions



CIP Account Setup Form (attached below)

Intent to Fabricate Request Form

Componentization Template (attached below)




Appendix F to Constructed Asset Policy: Guidance for Specific Costs
Policy: Constructed and Fabricated Asset (ID 024-0006)

Accounting for Moveable Equipment Purchased on a CIP Chart String
Pursuant to the Property, Plant, and Equipment Policy (Policy ID: 024-0001), moveable equipment purchased on a CIP account chart string or through the typical purchase requisition process must be tagged and tracked in the Oracle Fixed Assets Module. As such, moveable equipment, including AV equipment, purchased as part of a CIP will be recorded separately from other charges. All information required to be provided for moveable equipment purchases pursuant to the Property, Plant, and Equipment Policy will be provided for moveable equipment purchases of $5,000 or greater when purchased on a CIP account chart string. If the contractor for the capital project purchased the equipment, these charges should be recorded separately from other construction costs and all required information for moveable equipment purchases will be supplied. Refer to Property, Plant, and Equipment Management Policy (ID: 024-0001) and the Moveable Equipment Inventory Policy (ID: 024-0011) for guidance on moveable equipment and required information and documentation. 

Chart String Guidance
Pursuant to Property, Plant, and Equipment Policy Appendix E, moveable equipment purchases must be recorded to specified natural classes based on the cost of the asset/equipment. These specified natural classes differ for CIP accounts; use the natural classes in accordance with the guidance below for moveable equipment purchases on CIPs.

Purchases from external vendors

  • Under $5,000 – 5479-NONOP NONCAP Supplies Equip <25000
  • Between $5,000 – $24,999 - 5479-NONOP NONCAP Supplies Equip <25000
  • Over $25,000 – 1724-CIP CONST Moveable Equip

Purchases from another department within Dartmouth

  • Under $5,000 – 5474-NONOP NONCAP Intnl Equip under 5000
  • Between $5,000 – $24,999 - 5484-NONOP NONCAP Intnl Equip 5000-24999
  • Note: A completed Equipment/Asset Transfer Request Form is required for internal transfers of equipment and the existing asset record will be updated within the Fixed Assets Module of Oracle. 

Accounting for Studies and Planning Costs  
This Appendix provides guidance on the accounting for the costs of planning and studies related to potential capital projects.  

The first stage during which costs are incurred related to long-lived assets is the Preliminary Stage. During the Preliminary Stage, activities are performed exploring the opportunities for acquisition or construction of the asset. Typical activities that occur in the Preliminary Stage include the following:  

  • Studies may be conducted to evaluate whether to propose a project. These may involve general examination of a building to identify whether there are issues needing attention that result in a proposed project, or which project should be proposed first if there are multiple potential projects.  
  •  A Feasibility Study is a formal evaluation of a proposed project. The intent behind this study is often to see whether the project goals can be achieved within an estimated cost target and/or timeframe. The study may also examine whether a project is technologically feasible, and whether it can be achieved within any applicable regulatory or other legal constraints. This evaluation is needed when a project involves a significant investment, so that a decision can be made to continue, alter, or cancel the project.  
  • Planning activities are other preliminary costs necessary to determine whether a proposed project will proceed. These could include surveying, engineering studies, design layouts and other similar items.  

 Accounting treatment  
US GAAP has limited guidance on capitalization policies for facilities constructed for a reporting entity's own use. However, the reference materials listed at the end of this Appendix provide helpful guidelines in this area. These materials indicate that accounting for costs during the Preliminary Stage of a construction project is similar to accounting for costs associated with start-up activities, for which guidance is provided in ASC 720-15, Other Expenses - Start-up Costs. ASC 720-15 states that such costs should be expensed as incurred. 

Setting up a CIP account
Preliminary Stage costs may be expensed, either in a CIP project (non-operating), charged directly to operations, or charged directly to a deferred maintenance reserve (operating), as appropriate. Preliminary Stage work may be approved as part of the annual Capital Budget, but a CIP account will only be set up when a specific asset-producing project has been identified and approved.

Once the asset-producing project has been identified, the cost of studies or other planning activities can be charged to a CIP account if the estimated costs meet the minimum threshold for establishing a CIP account (currently $50,000). Subactivity 0000-Default must be used to identify these Preliminary Stage costs within the CIP account string. As part of componentization, these costs will be expensed.

Managing a CIP account
If the project moves forward to the Design phase, costs should be charged to the same CIP account; however, Subactivity 0000 must be disabled and a new Subactivity set up for the remainder of the work. The CIP project will be closed after the componentization process is complete. If additional planning dollars are approved, Subactivity 0000 should continue to be used.

If the planning work or feasibility study does not lead to an approved capital project within an agreed upon period of time (normally 1-2 years), the CIP account will be closed. The Controller's Office may grant exceptions to this timing for unusual circumstances.

Reference Materials 
Appendix to Constructed Asset Policy
The proposed Statement of Position issued by the Financial Reporting Executive Committee of the AICPA (FinREC), Accounting for Certain Costs and Activities Related to Property, Plant and Equipment (2003). 
PwC accounting and financial reporting guide, Property, plant, equipment, and other assets, issued in June 2017 and partially updated in September 2018. 
Effective Date: FY19.

Appendix H - Attached below

Policy ID


Effective Date

April 16, 2015

Last Revised Date

November 30, 2022


Finance & Administration

Office of Primary Responsibility


Office(s) of Secondary Responsibility

Last Reviewed Date

November 30, 2022

Next Review Date