Importance of proper documentation to prevent litigation in construction

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prevent litigation in construction

Construction litigation is stressful and costly. No firm would want to go through lawsuits yet, they happen as we live in a litigation-crazed society.  The more bitter part there is that not all lawsuits can be anticipated and prevented.

All construction firms certainly want to finish a project without going through any legal troubles so they try to avoid them by making sure that all projects come with qualified, well-trained workers, well-maintained equipment, and safety protocols that are adhered to by all.  However, most of the lawsuits faced by the industry involve disputed paperwork. And most of this paperwork in question range from incomplete documentation, inconsistent reports, scopes of work, safety briefings, time logs, and so much more.

That said, it is in the best interest of a construction firm to keep detailed and updated documentation of every aspect of the project. But if it means documenting every bolt and nut used on the site, then that would be a lot of paper! It’s impractical and paper documents are so easy to lose and be damaged. When you lose them, then you’ll also probably lose in a lawsuit. And this is one scenario why digitization is so important in the construction firm where millions of cash are involved.

Today, documentation in construction is done with software. Construction project management software like Pro Crew Schedule allows anyone involved in the project from the contractor to the subcontractors, project managers, foremen, and even crew members to document their daily work straight from their mobile phones. The ease that this kind of documentation offers makes people at the office and the site more diligent in taking notes and sending them over to the responsible person.

In the past, the quicker way to view documents quickly in litigation is by scanning the files and sending them via emails. , those documents are often professionally scanned.  But aside from the cost of scanning thousands of pages, unnecessary pages often end up being scanned as well, making it part of the legal document and further slowing down the process. Making them digital by creating documents through the software and storing them online is a surefire way to speed up the process and ensure that nothing all documents are kept secure. And with complete documentation, you now have strong evidence to support your claim.

Importance of Documentation in Construction

We almost said it all. While construction is mostly thought of as arduous physical work, documentation serves as a vital element of a successful project. Documentation serves as a “memory” of the project. It serves as a record of all the actual happenings on the site at any given time during the course of the project. Documentation is the framework on which a claim is built. Hence, without it, you won’t have contemporaneous evidence to prove a claim and, thus, little chance of a fair outcome.

When documentation is being talked about in construction, most people would think of time logs, budget, bids, design, drawings, and minutes of meeting as the only documentation required in the field. Little did they imagine that even a simple missing screw from the inventory should be reported.

Clients invest so much money in a construction project so they want every single cent to be liquidated. They want every second to count so they want detailed time logs of each worker so they know that they are getting the value of their money. They want all the expensive equipment to go to proper use so they want to see a summary of equipment schedules. They want to avoid delays and overruns so they want to know every single issue encountered at the site. If this kind of transparency isn’t delivered, then that is when disputes arise that may lead to litigation.

This is why project documents are kept on a contemporaneous basis to provide a permanent record of detailed reconstruction, review, and analysis of events and actions of the project. The loss or the destruction of project documents is the destruction of evidence and this will severely handicap the impacted party (which is oftentimes the contractor or the subcontractor) in presenting its case to the trier of fact.

It is essential, industry practice, and standard internal corporate policy for construction companies to maintain a project documentation system where the most reliable in these present times is the use of construction project management software.

Additionally, thorough and organized documentation is needed throughout the project so that it will be easier to look through the files needed in times of assessment with the client or when litigation arises. Remember that your construction documents will help you present a persuasive case and are critical to resolving disputes in two ways.

  1.       Documentation provides a contemporaneous record of the actual happenings throughout the project.
  2.       Documentation provides a contemporaneous record of the position of the party regarding the particular event being questioned.

Proper Documentation in Construction

There’s indeed a lot of paperwork needed in a construction project. Good thing, most of these documents can now be done on construction project management software. Of course, there are still files that need to be printed like drawings, quotes, contracts, and other agreements. Most of them are documents needed during the pre-construction phase. But as for reports, change orders, photos, videos, and other documents required during the main construction phase, they can now be completed online.

Construction Software in Proper and Safe Documentation

Supervisors and managers can personally oversee every page of the paper-to-electronic conversion personally. But more money and time can be saved when construction software is used.

Construction management software turns paperwork to digital form automatically. The daily reports, time logs, and other important daily documents can be shared in real-time to relative personnel. Another big advantage of using a cloud-based software instead of producing hard copies is the more professional look that your reports get and the ease in reading them. You can create documents of every step done in the field without the fear of losing or damaging them that usually comes from sharing original paper documents. It’s also possible to store these files for decades, cutting down on the need for conventional storage and loss of space.

And since proper documentation is essential for successful litigation defense, the moment that potential plaintiff know that your firm uses compact, complete, and professional documentation system, they may end up being discouraged from even filing lawsuits, meaning more time spent on a site, and less in a courtroom.

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