A paper presented to a TUNS/Revay seminar in 1990.
It has been modified only to suit a web presentation format.

Published here September, 2001.

Introduction | Claim Avoidance | Claim Identification | Sources of Dispute
Claim Notification | Reserving Rights | Record Keeping | Typical Set of Records
Focus on the Last Two Groups | Managing the Records | Useful Tips

Focus on the Last Two Groups

That's a healthy list, and needs a clerical staffer to support it. Most of the list is typical and self explanatory. However, the last six items are often overlooked and are therefore worth elaborating.

Original Records

As noted earlier, for the prudent contractor anxious to stay solvent, records are required for estimating future work, and for protecting his contractual rights. Both of these require some form of post-contract review. However, there can be little argument that reliable data cannot be extracted from records created after the fact. Even the best of memories are fallible, and the written record serves to provide the solid reminder. Data may be extracted, analyzed and presented in a different light, but satisfactory records cannot be created later.

Instant memos

For example, all verbal directives should be committed to writing immediately and exchanged with the other party. This serves to keep the other party properly informed, clarify understanding if the instructions were not clear and, of course, to preserve contractual rights.

Personal diaries

Diaries can provide a wealth of information. Unfortunately, they tend to be overlooked, either because the pace is so hectic that there is not time to keep one current, or alternatively, there seems to be so little of importance going on that it hardly seems worth writing! In any case, what should be recorded are solid facts such as the make-up of various crews, sub-contractors and equipment on site, work re-allocation and for what reasons, delivery problems, weather conditions, visitors to the site, discussions, and seemingly innocuous comments about the work. Needless to say, what should be avoided, are personal opinions and derogatory remarks. They could be read out in court!

In one evidence diary we saw there was pasted in a beautiful pin-up girl, no clothes, of course! After passing through several reviewer's hands, this page of the document appeared to be the most thumbed.


For record purposes, these must show what is actually going on at the time with the location and view point identified, as well as the date and photographer's name. A camera which prints the date on the negative is a great start and well worth the expense. Also the photographer should realize that it is the content, and not the artistic effect, that is the most important.

Computer Application

As we have seen, the road to contract documentation is long and arduous. The worst part is trying to find that vital piece of information amongst the morass of paper, which is now so urgently required.

Forward the micro-computer. These are now so inexpensive, and so powerful that it seems impossible to do without them. However, the secret is to get data organized as early in the job as possible, then commit to consistent maintenance, regular backup and off-site storage. If this is done meticulously, the subsequent saving in time through search and find, or through spread sheet and database design and use, can be invaluable. Even the common Speedie Memo can be produced faster on a PC, with the added advantage that it can be put in storage in a manner that can be readily traced.

Typical Set of Records  Typical Set of Records

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