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
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.
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.
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.
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.