Importance of Keeping Proper Construction Documents

Record keeping in construction projects

"Get it in writing". Despite the clutter a paper trail can cause, creating and storing a written document (plus anything pertaining to it) is essential to doing business. The construction industry is a good example of this. Documents are used within it to secure bids, cement contracts, lay out scopes of work and determine who worked when, among their many other uses. These construction documents are not just useful, they can be downright necessary, if issues arise during the course of a project, or unfortunately if parties end up in litigation.

But surely that receipt from the lunchtime delivery guy isn't a proper document, is it? Or is it? With all the paperwork that's generated during a project, what exactly should be hung onto and filed, and what can be disposed of?

Record Keeping in Construction Projects

"Construction Documents" is a fairly fluid term. For years, it largely meant anything directly connected to the project itself, namely blueprints, shop renderings, etc. Today, proper construction documents include bid applications, scopes of work, contracts, supply lists, payrolls, communications between contractor and client, and many different reports. Under certain circumstances, even that pizza receipt might have to be documented and filed. The good news about all this paper saving is that, properly filed and stored, it helps to protect all parties involved, insures that industry and federal guidelines are met, and actually cuts down on costly and time-consuming lawsuits. The bad news is......well, that's an awful lot of paper. While recommendations vary as to how long to keep paperwork on completed projects, the suggested minimum is three years. Some firms hang onto their project records for decades. While that's a lot of valuable information, again, that's a lot of paper, a medium that does not always hold up well over time, and is especially vulnerable to fire and flooding.

Fortunately, construction document management is evolving, thanks to digital technology. Blueprints and other architectural drawings are being replaced by innovative computer programs like Building Information Models (BIM) which allow architects, contractors, suppliers, and clients to not only view and "walk" through various phases of a structure but add and remove features to it as the project progresses. Before this could only be done by obtaining new blueprints, which could cost thousands of dollars.

And what about all those other construction documents that administrators and supervisors must deal with and retain? There's digital good news there, as well. For example, Raken's daily reporting app allows managers and supervisors to file professional looking reports in minutes, from a number of locations using devices. These daily reports for construction are filed using industry standard guidelines, and once filed, can be stored on a cloud platform for up to ten years. Graphics and pertinent photographs can easily be added, and specific pages can be pulled from larger documents using keyword activation, saving hours of searching. Using such technology results in secure, professional-looking reports suitable either for litigation or research purposes.

The need to retain all documents related to a project hasn't stopped, but the means of doing so has. Managers and supervisors are advised to rethink their reporting and storage methods before their paper trail becomes a burden that buries them.

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