Ask any construction solicitor ‘what is valued’ and the answer is simple: records, records and more records. Records provide hard evidence of what was agreed and/or shows what is disputed.
But any record must be useful. So the more information gathered about ‘what, where, why, when and who’ the better the record. It sounds simple enough but can often be overlooked before and during a construction project.
What records are useful throughout a construction project?
- Fully signed contract documents (which include scopes for fees and services)
- Payment notices (and pay less notices)
- Instructions given and received and conflicts in plans and/or specifications
- Work performed to date with location, description, by whom and reference to programme
- Progress photographs
- Test results and references to specification requirement, identifying deficiencies and corrective action
- Materials received with statement of acceptability and storage
- Job safety evaluations
- Information required by the Employer’s Agent
- Weather conditions
- Any delays encountered
- Number of persons on site by trade, activity and location
What processes can be put into place to ease the task of record keeping?
- Keep contemporaneous records
- Creating a standard practice across a company regarding what records are taken and where they are kept
- Employee training on record keeping
- Make record keeping a mandatory duty of relevant employees
- Regular reporting to encourage good practice
Instructing a solicitor to resolve a construction dispute is a last resort and is usually a ‘reactive’ measure. However, being ‘pro-active’ in keeping good records will assist in any dispute and may actually prevent the dispute occurring in the first place. It is worth bearing in mind that it is often the party who has the best records who ultimately wins the dispute.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.