Cost-Plus Contract


A cost-plus contract is an agreement between two parties where one party agrees to reimburse the other party for expenses incurred plus a specific amount of profit. 

This type of contract is commonly used in industries such as construction and research and development. 

Cost-plus contracts provide flexibility to the contractor and allows for reimbursement of actual expenses, making it particularly useful when the work scope cannot be accurately estimated in advance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cost-plus contracts involve the reimbursement of expenses incurred by the contractor plus a predetermined profit.
  • These contracts are commonly used in construction and research and development activities.
  • They provide flexibility to the contractor and allow for reimbursement of actual expenses.
  • Cost-plus contracts may lead to an uncertain final cost and a longer timeline for the project.

How it Works:

In a cost-plus contract, the party drawing up the contract agrees to reimburse the contractor for almost every expense incurred during the project. 

This includes both direct costs (e.g., materials, labor, subcontractors) and indirect or overhead costs (e.g., insurance, security). 

The contractor must provide documented evidence of their expenses, such as invoices or receipts. 

Additionally, the contract allows the contractor to collect a predetermined amount above the reimbursed expenses as profit.

Key Components:

  • Reimbursement of Expenses: Cost-plus contracts cover both direct and indirect costs incurred by the contractor.
  • Predetermined Profit: The contract allows for the contractor to collect a specific amount of profit above the reimbursed expenses.
  • Flexibility and Risk Allocation: Cost-plus contracts provide flexibility to the contractor and allow for the allocation of some project risks to the buyer.


  • Risk Mitigation: Cost-plus contracts eliminate some risk for the contractor by allowing reimbursement of actual expenses.
  • Focus on Quality: These contracts shift the focus from the overall cost to the quality of work being done.
  • Expense Coverage: All expenses related to the project are covered, reducing the chances of unexpected surprises.


Cost-plus contracts provide a flexible arrangement for reimbursing contractors for their expenses plus a predetermined profit. They are particularly useful in industries where project scopes are difficult to accurately estimate in advance. 

While these types of contracts offer benefits, such as risk mitigation and expense coverage, they may also result in uncertain final costs and longer project timelines. Careful consideration and negotiation are needed to ensure a successful cost-plus contract.

It’s critically important for parties involved in cost-plus contracts to maintain clear communication and documentation to track and justify costs accurately. By doing so, both the contractor and the buyer can ensure transparency and smooth execution.

Disclaimer: The information on this website, including glossary definitions, is for educational and informational purposes only and not intended as professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we make no guarantees regarding the completeness, reliability, or timeliness of the information provided. We are not liable for any loss or damage arising from your use of the site. Investment decisions in commercial real estate should be made based on individual due diligence and professional advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change; always consult legal and financial experts before making decisions.



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