Ward made a £2.4m pre-tax profit on turnover of £27.7m in the year to 31 October 1998, but this was wiped out by £12.5m in exceptional items after a reassessment of the value of the company's land holdings and work in progress.
A business reorganisation, carried out by chief executive David Holliday and finance director Michael Lethaby, cost £750 000. The company is also facing a possible £4m bill for costs and damages if it loses a long-running case against Kent County Council.
Ward sued the council over problems on a development 10 years ago and has been fighting the case ever since. A decision is expected in spring.
Holliday, the former Admiral Homes chief who took over at Ward last February, said he was confident of winning the case, but damages and costs had been fully accounted for in case of a loss.
He described the reorganisation as a housekeeping exercise and believes the business is now in good shape for the coming year.
As part of the exercise, Ward's in-house insurance broking service has been closed, along with its roadbuilding, landscaping and central stores departments.