As experienced Orlando construction lawyers, we have seen time and time again how project documentation can make or break a construction claim. Although the construction industry is known to be pretty risky, it’s quite surprising how often construction professionals maintain weak documentation. It’s never an issue until a dispute arises.
If you want to avoid a costly dispute down the line, make sure you’re consistently and accurately documenting what’s happening on the project. Even if a dispute happens, strong and accurate documentation can get you a better settlement outcome.
Three Areas of Weakness to Address
Documentation is an essential component of project management. However, there are three areas we typically see weaknesses: failure to follow contractual requirements for notice, failure to completely document daily events, impacts, and project costs, and failure to address critical issues as soon as they are identified. We’ll discuss them further below.
Failure to Follow Contract Requirements for Notice
Contracts, whether boilerplate or customized, should be read thoroughly. Failure to do so almost guarantees some oversight in one area or another. A standard boilerplate contract does not equate to a straightforward contract. You also can’t assume the other party has meticulously reviewed the contract. It’s important to put the responsibility in the hands of the person responsible for managing and administering the project. The notice and claim provisions should be noted and kept on hand to refer back to its terms when issues arise.
Failure to Record All Events, Impacts, and Costs
When you’re dealing with issues such as weather, regulatory, costs, equipment, or workers, these should be documented thoroughly because they could later form the basis for changes, compensation, or a claim. It may not always be possible to have documentation that details every aspect of an issue; however, every effort should be made to document those things that are pertinent to any potential discrepancies.
Failure to Identify Issues and Provide Notices Early
All problems do not lead to a dispute, but it’s easy to see that the ones that do may have been avoidable if certain issues were identified and notices were provided to the appropriate parties. It’s important to speak up early or else pay the penalty later. For example, if project work begins late because of the client, the contractor should notify the client (in writing) of the impacts the late start will have on the project.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.