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The Importance of Daily Jobsite Documentation (the CYA Factor)

Jun 27, 2024 | Blog

In the construction industry, meticulous documentation is a crucial practice that can protect projects, improve efficiency, and ultimately save money. During a recent discussion with industry experts Chris Work and Jeff Spencer, we explored the importance of maintaining daily diaries on job sites. This practice not only builds good habits but also serves as a safeguard against potential disputes and misunderstandings.

Building Good Habits Early

Daily documentation is essential, especially for those just starting in the construction field. Jeff Spencer highlighted that using a daily diary helps establish good habits from the beginning. “It’s a cover-your-ass kind of thing,” he explained. Keeping a record of daily activities, weather conditions, and other relevant details ensures that no one can later dispute what happened on a given day.

The Tools of the Trade

The team discussed using Contractor’s Daily Diaries, typically ordered at the end of each year for the following year. These diaries come in different colors and are designed to capture all necessary information, such as weather conditions, work completed, and any delays. “We use the green ones,” Jeff mentioned. Documenting the weather is particularly crucial, as it can significantly impact construction activities. For instance, concrete doesn’t cure as quickly in cooler temperatures and can freeze, affecting the project’s progress and quality.

Accountability and Verification

Foremen are primarily responsible for maintaining these diaries. Jeff advised that having a general contractor (GC) or superintendent sign off on the daily entries adds an extra layer of verification. “That signature goes a long way if it comes down to going to a court case,” he noted. If a superintendent is reluctant to sign, project managers should intervene to ensure compliance.

Practical Benefits

Daily documentation can prevent misunderstandings and disputes. For example, if work is delayed due to another contractor’s actions, noting this in the diary can provide crucial evidence if issues arise later. Jeff emphasized the value of detailed records: “Having that documentation could really go a long way.” These records can also help identify recurring issues that may necessitate changes in bidding or project management strategies.

Electronic Records and Photos

In addition to written records, taking photographs of the job site is essential. These images should be stored in electronic files for each project. Photos can provide visual evidence of conditions and any potential damage caused by other contractors. “Document that, get pictures if you can,” Jeff advised, highlighting the importance of having a comprehensive record.

Effective Use of Foremen

The role of a foreman should extend beyond manual labor. A foreman should oversee the crew, plan for upcoming tasks, and document progress and issues. Jeff pointed out that a foreman who spends too much time on equipment might miss critical site developments. “He needs to be there to run the crew and make sure they got work to do, but he also needs to be able to document and look over the project, plan ahead, and also look back and make sure that everything that he’s done is protected.”

Daily jobsite documentation is not just a bureaucratic task; it’s a vital practice that can significantly impact the success and accountability of a construction project. By using tools like Contractor’s Daily Diaries, verifying records with GC signatures, and incorporating electronic documentation and photographs, construction professionals can protect their projects and ensure smooth operations. Establishing these practices early builds a foundation of good habits that will benefit any construction team in the long run.