Construction Industry Documentation and Record Keeping
Documentation is very important in a construction project because it provides a "memory" of the project. It is the only contemporaneous record of what was actually happening at any given time during the course of the project.
It is essential, industry practice, and standard internal corporate policy for construction companies to maintain a project documentation system. In addition to being a contract requirement in most large construction projects today, thorough and organized documentation throughout a project provides the only contemporaneous "memory" of what actually happened on the project.
Documentation is the foundation on which all proposals, disputes, or claims are built. Without documentation, there is essentially no contemporaneous evidence and, therefore, it is difficult to present a persuasive case. Documentation is critical to resolving disputes in two ways.
Documentation for construction projects generally consist of the following types of documents:
Proper administration of the contract requires that all communications between the parties be in writing and preserved. Clear communication is vital to the success of a project and written documentation of the communication process forms the basis for analysis and resolution of disputes when a project has gone astray. Contemporaneous documentation is essential for reconstructing the facts if a dispute arises.
Project documents kept on a contemporaneous basis provide a permanent record which allows the detailed reconstruction, review, and analysis of events and actions of the project. It is not practical or possible to bring a building into a courtroom to demonstrate a defect during construction, but a party to a dispute can bring contemporaneous documents to demonstrate a point at issue.
In construction, it is often easy to take a "just get it done" attitude and ignore the needed paperwork. However, as the project goes south and the battle enters the courtroom, the paper trail becomes one of the most significant pieces of evidence is support of your claim.
Troy V. Sutton provides full time Construction Consulting Support services for DRA. Mr. Sutton's responsibilities include reviewing contract related documentation (e.g. contracts, drawings, specifications, PCOs, Cos, RFIs, CPM schedules, Pos, invoices, procurement records, bid sheets, Pay Apps, engineer reports, testing reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, etc.), preparing claims documents for mediation, arbitration or litigation, and draft Dispute Review Board (Arbitrator/Mediator panel) opinions & recommendations on multi-million dollar public works projects.
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