Appropriate records should be compiled and maintained throughout the duration of construction projects. This creates a contemporaneous history of what happened at what point during the course of the project that can be referred to if necessary.
This not only establishes a ‘memory’ or ‘paper trail’ for the project through which activities and decisions can be reviewed, it allows for the reconstruction, review and analysis of events and timelines should a dispute arise. Disputes are often determined by the available records, rather than by the facts, and so it is commercially very important to the parties involved that good records are kept.
There are a number of reasons for record keeping:
- Legal requirements.
- Contractual requirements.
- To control work.
- To provide data for future work.
The extent of the record keeping required will depend on the type of project. A balance must be maintained between keeping adequate records in preparation for a dispute arising, and attempting to record everything, which is can be difficult, time consuming and costly.
Some record-keeping requirements, such as recording the minutes of meetings for example, may be carried out at the discretion of the individual organisation, with different frequency rates, levels of detail, and time for which records must be kept, appropriate for different situations. Other records may be a legal or contractual requirement, following prescribed rules.
For example, under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), contractors must keep a record of the gross amount of each payment invoiced by subcontractors, excluding VAT and any deductions made from subcontractor payments. These details must be kept for at least 3 years after the end of the tax year they relate to.
Ultimately, when the completed building is handed over to the client, a set of record information should be passed to them so they are able to operate the building.
It is important that the standard of records kept is high, or they may not provide the expected information when they are actually required. In particular, records should be dated (including incoming records) and where appropriate, signed, and a document management system should be in place to allow efficient storage and retrieval.
Information is now generally managed using specialist software, and apps that make the preparation of records easier and more reliable are also available. This can, for example allow records to be made on site using a mobile phone, which are then automatically uploaded to a project document management system.
Increasingly, project information is prepared in the form of a building information model (BIM), and this may include project records as well as design and specification information. An as-built or as-constructed building information model might be prepared on completion of construction works, consisting of documentation, non- graphical information and graphical information defining the delivered project.
During operation, this might be described as an Asset Information Model (AIM), that is, a model that provides all the data and information related to, or required for the operation of the completed built asset.
 List of records
A range of records that might be kept on construction projects is presented below. Please add to this list:
- Original contract tender documents.
- Tender negotiations and revisions.
- Sub-contractor tenders, contracts, purchase orders and correspondence.
- Variations and estimates.
- Contractual certificates.
- Contract notices.
- Requests for information.
- Daily time records.
- Daily equipment use.
- Daily production logs.
- Material delivery and use.
- Labour use.
- Inventories of tools, plant and equipment.
- Cost reports.
- Forecast-to-complete estimate updates.
- Productivity reports.
- Accounting records (e.g. pay-roll, accounts payable and receivable).
- Minutes of meetings.
- Progress reports.
- Site diary.
- Progress reports.
- Progress photographs.
- Weather conditions.
- Site visitors.
- Accidents, injuries and health.
- Asset register.
- Health and safety file.
- Building owner's manual.
- Building log book.
- Building user's guide.
- Testing and commissioning data.
- Certificates and warranties.
- As-built drawings or an as-constructed building information model.
- Statutory approvals, waivers, consents and conditions.
- Equipment test certificates.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:
- Collaborative practices for building design and construction.
- Contract award.
- Construction litigation.
- Contribution and apportionment.
- Damages in construction contracts.
- Design review.
- Difference between purchase order and invoice.
- Good faith in construction contracts.
- Human resource management in construction.
- Legal and equitable assignment
- Project quality plan PQP.
- Purchase order.
- RIBA plan of work.
- Site administrator.
- Site visitors book.
- Team management for building design and construction projects.
 External references
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