Poor Record Keeping = Going to the Poor House (or, why project documentation matters)

You are an engineer or architect.  You understand the importance of thorough designs.  What about thorough documentation of the daily happenings on the construction project?  That is equally important.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have often spoken of the importance of proper record keeping on construction projects.  In fact, lack of good project records is one of the 7 mistakes in my white paper 7 Critical Mistakes that Engineers & Architects make During Project Negotiation and Execution that Sabotage their Projects & Invite Litigation.poor house

Now, a construction management expert, who, like me, sees the ugly when construction projects turn bad, has weighed in with perhaps the authoritative reasoning and rationale (pdf) for good project records.  In short, if you need to make a claim later, or defend a claim of design errors or omissions, you need the documentation.  It needs to be made during the project, and all team members must buy into the system.  If you fail in these efforts, you could lose your claim or lawsuit.  Hence, this post’s title.  Poor record keeping can lead to the poor house, or today’s equivalent, bankruptcy, shuttering of your business, and related gloom and doom.

Paperwork is crucial during the construction lawsuit.  Remember this, and plan and act accordingly.

 Photo:  Sampson Kempthorne workhouse design modified from Wikimedia (via cc).

Sobering Facts for Construction Safety Day

construction site fatalitiesHappy “Construction Safety Day” everyone!  James White of Maxwell Systems, has shared with me an infographic showing all sorts of data about construction fatalities.

As you might expect,  falls are the #1 source of construction-site fatalities, followed by being struck by falling objects, electrocution, and being caught between objects, in that order.  Together, these “fatal four” make up 57% of all construction worker deaths.

To view the complete infographic, click here.

Thanks, James, for the sobering reminder.

Cozy up with some good Construction Blogs (and a favor)

If you haven’t already, check out some of the blogs on my Blogroll.  These are other construction law writers from around the United States.  Even if they are not writing for your jurisdiction, most of the information is relevant to readers from any state- or indeed, for readers from many other countries.

In addition to the Blogroll, you can find a plethora of well-written, topical blogs in this year’s “Best Construction Blog” contest run by Construction Marketing Magazine, founded by Mark Buckshon.   Mark’s company is also responsible for publication of the North Carolina Construction News, which is on my “to read” list and should be on yours.

vote signAnd yes, if you think I have ulterior motives, I do.  This blog is one of the contestants, so if you feel so inclined to vote, please consider including this blog among your votes.  (In the alphabetized list, under “C”, “Construction Law in North Carolina,” which is the 14th from the top.

You can vote for multiple blogs, and I encourage you to do so as there are many good contenders this year.  The contest is open until the end of the month.  Happy reading & happy voting!

Design-Build Advantages for Construction Projects (guest post)

Design-Build where contractors and designers work togetherToday we have a guest post from the folks at McCree General Contractors and Architects, located in Orlando.  The McCree folks, naturally enough, think Design-Build has many features that make it advantageous over the traditional Design-Bid-Build method.  Here are their thoughts:

Many construction projects are designed by an architect, and once the client is happy with the design a contractor is then hired to build it. While the client may have been told one estimate by the architect, once the contractor gets the plans the costs may change. There may be aspects of the design execution the architect didn’t think about, or parts that won’t work with the landscape of the construction site. This can result in changes to the original design, higher costs, and delaying of the project. Not to mention the frustration this can create for everyone involved.

Because of these obstacles that often arise between architecture firm and contractor firm, many people are now turning to a Design-Build Construction Firm. At these firms, the architects, designers, and contractors work together from the beginning. The firm takes responsibility for the project in its entirety, from design to execution. If the architect makes and adjustment to a design, the contractor will be right there to let him know if this may violate a regulation or if it won’t work with the topography of the site. Adjustments can be made without ever involving the client. The price quoted is more likely to be accurate, because a contractor and project manager will have also agreed that this design can be executed in the space allotted. There is no finger pointing and blaming the other firm, leaving the client in the middle, frustrated and spending more money than he originally thought. A Design-Build firm is also easier on the client because he only needs to contact one project manager. This streamlined process leads to a more efficiently run project, and efficiently run projects typically cost less and are finished quicker.

A Design-Build firm is advantageous for the client also because these firms typically allow the client to be as involved as he wants. As the design is developed and changed according to the client’s specifications, the contractor will be on hand to let the client and architect know if these changes are possible. There is no need for ordering design changes, which an architect working on his own would charge the client for. Because the contractor works for the firm, and not for himself, he is not looking to protect his own self-interest once building starts. Since the contractor has been involved from the beginning, there should be no surprises or setbacks once ground is broken. If there are, the Design-Build firm should take responsibility, instead of the contractor telling the client to go back to the architect.

All the decisions regarding the design and building of a project will be taken into account from the very beginning with a Design-Build firm. When using separate design and contractor firms, an architect will simply tell the client what will be the most cost effective design, and then a contractor will decide the most cost effective way to build this design. The schedule of the contractor’s team is not on the architect’s mind, and the contractor may not know the most cost effective materials needed to execute the design. These problems are also eliminated with a Design-Build firm. The experience of the team, quality and availability of materials and schedule of the contractor and construction crews are also taken into consideration from the very beginning of the project. This further streamlines the process, making it quicker and more painless for everyone involved.

Melissa again:  Design-Build projects definitely present unique opportunities, and unique challenges.  If you are considering entering into a design-build contract, considering a joint venture with a contractor on a project, or otherwise undertaking a corporate organizational change, make sure you have a good lawyer (or three) on board for the myriad issues that such ventures present. 

Now it’s your turn:  What do you think?  Is Design-Build the next best thing since sliced bread? Have you had issues, problems, or good results as part of a Design-Build team?  Share your thoughts below.

Copyright Info for Shutterstock Photo: Image ID: 61778761  Copyright: sam100

Here’s to Your Family’s Nuts!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my blog readers!  Rather than yet-another-boring-tree photo, I thought I’d share this photo of a squirrel and his nuts, because *every* family has at least a few nuts, right?  Here’s hoping  you get to spend some down time this season with your family, nuts & all!

~ Melissa

squirrel_with_nuts_in_the_snow

Photo (c) Johnny Berg 

 

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