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).

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

  1. Bill Beardslee, PE, PLS, PP says:

    With the advent of technology, communication skills, both written and oral, are eroding faster than the polar ice caps. This is particularly important in client relations, and the part of client relations where you are representing and protecting you client during construction. In a recent study supplied by XL Group, insurors, 39% of the claims in a recent year were the result of communication issues – lack of discussion, misunderstanding scope, lack of documentation, etc. Writing good construction observations which are clear and concise are an art and a science in which all design professionals must hone their skills.

    • Melissa Dewey Brumback says:

      Thanks, Bill, for your thoughts. The 39% statistic does not surprise me at all. While other things may also come into play, communication (or lack thereof) is usually a part of almost all the cases I see in litigation.

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