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For the record – one New Year’s resolution you really should keep

We are well into January now and your New Year’s resolutions may have been abandoned or even long forgotten – but it is never too late to pick up good habits! The habit of good record-keeping is one which I would urge you to develop.

Record-keeping during construction projects is crucial for many reasons, not least allowing you to build or defend a claim should you need to. Even evidence of any delays or shortcomings on your part is important as it will allow your advisors (should you need them in the event of a claim) to develop a strategy which takes into account all of the strengths and weaknesses in your position. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.

With that in mind, some key points to remember are:

  1. The people who eventually look at your records may have no first-hand knowledge or experience of the site and/or project (e.g. a judge or adjudicator)
  2. Photos and videos require the photographer’s name, the time and date and a frame of reference to locate them on the site (e.g. a photo of a window is of little use without something to demonstrate its location within the building)
  3. Photos and videos need to be clear so that an outsider can understand what is shown so try to avoid taking them in dim light, etc.
  4. Don’t dispose of records – even seemingly insignificant diary entries might be important later on and when viewed in the context of other documents and communications
  5. Keep written records of all instructions and variations and ideally obtain and keep written confirmation of those instructions or variations
  6. Record weather conditions daily
  7. Note dates on which access to site or parts of a site is given
  8. Record all delays and their causes immediately rather than retrospectively 
  9. Where there is likely to be substantial email correspondence or electronic documents, organise these into logical folders at an early stage for ease of reference later – the same goes for paper documents (not only will this save time it may save you legal fees as well if you have to instruct lawyers to deal with a claim)
  10. Where possible, keep daily records of time on site, equipment use, material deliveries, etc.
  11. Keep written and photographic records of progress on site.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list and it goes without saying that in addition to the above, pre-contract and contractual documents, correspondence, programmes, requests for information, contractual notices and meeting minutes should be preserved.

Developing a good record-keeping habit will involve very little time and effort on a daily basis but may pay huge dividends if things turn sour.

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. 

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