We all like to think that everything in life has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s why movies used to close with “The End” and why we love certain books and stories. There’s something very satisfying about closing a chapter and moving on to the next big thing; construction projects are no different.
After months or years of grueling project management meetings, budget negotiations, and supply chain issues, there’s nothing more satisfying than reaching final completion and finally closing the chapter on a construction project.
Except, in the construction world, the story doesn’t end when the final paperwork is done!
In fact, many things could still go wrong long after the project team has moved on and the building is occupied and in use. Here’s how construction document controls act as your long-term insurance on your construction project investments.
Construction Projects: The After Credits Scene
You know how some movies have a scene that comes after the credits roll, either sharing an in-joke with the audience or sometimes setting up a potential sequel? Well, construction projects sometimes give us the same kinds of surprises.
Maybe it’s a worker’s compensation claim related to an on-site injury. Or maybe it’s a latent defect in one of the materials or finishes that require a warranty claim to repair or replace it.
Whatever your after-credits scene happens to be, you never know when it might happen, and when you’re the Owner of the building, at a certain point in the lifespan of the building, all roads will lead to your door.
The simple fact is that we all focus on the planning, preconstruction, execution, and closeout of our construction projects. Still, many more years or even decades after the last construction worker has left your construction site, you will still be responsible for your building and the construction project that created it.
This is why, when we built Owner Insite, we focused not only on everything that happens until the credits roll but also on preserving all that information for any future need you might have for it in perpetuity.
Data, Like Insurance, Is Something You Keep and Hope You Never Need
If you’ve been involved in more than a few construction projects, you will know how much data, documentation, and information is generated during construction.
There are mountains of letters, notifications, claims, changes, and reports created, commented on, amended, and revised by nearly everyone involved in a construction project. Everyone from the sub-trades on-site to the site engineers will create dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of documentation during their time on the project.
Long after the job is finished, a problem might arise related to just one or two of those pieces of documentation, and having that audit trail and stored data might mean the difference between costly litigation or worse.
That’s precisely why construction document controls and data storage are like insurance. You need to have it, but you hope you never need to use it.
At Owner Insite, we’ve helped our clients to avoid highly costly and complex situations over the years simply by giving them a reliable, easy-to-access and search repository for all that information.
Life Cycle Construction Document Controls
In the construction world, it’s very common to hear someone talking about life cycle construction documentation, and usually, they’re referring to the time between conceptualization and construction completion.
However, when you’re the Owner of a building or construction project, the life cycle doesn’t end when the last contractor leaves the job site, and the final holdback is paid.
Your project life cycle will extend many years after that. Until the last product warranty expires, every OSHA claim has been dealt with, and beyond, you must access the project lifecycle documentation.
One of the biggest challenges many building and construction project owners face when it comes to that kind of long-term construction document controls and storage is that it’s very hard to maintain those kinds of physical records.
Once you’ve got a series of large, complex projects under your belt, the physical records you would need to retain would take up a considerable amount of storage space in your office. You’d also have to figure out how to keep them free of moisture, mice, and moths, to name a few things that love to make a home in document archives.
Then there’s the unthinkable task of finding that handful of documents that relate to the specific issue that arises months or years after your project officially ended – on paper, at least.
Once a physical document archive has more than a few projects’ worth of data stored, it would take a small army a very long time to find the documents and data you need in the timeframe you must find them.
Digital document storage, like the archive and document storage options built into Owner Insite, means you don’t have to allocate valuable floor space to boxes, binders, and filing cabinets. It also means you can save and search documents by user, category, document type, date range, and more, so instead of days looking for dusty pages, you can access digital records in minutes.
Time Is Money
Most construction project and building owners hope that they will never have to deal with post-construction closeout litigation or investigations, but the truth is, when they do happen, they’re a lot like the construction process itself – the longer they take, the more money they’re going to cost.
The Owner Insite team always hopes that our clients never have to face these kinds of issues, but we’ve built our platform so that you can save time and money if they do. Whether it’s providing information to your lawyers without the need for time-consuming searches or meeting regulatory timelines for providing information, getting the information you need quickly is critical. Your discovery costs should be minimal compared to your current document retention processes.
Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst
Regarding construction and project management, particularly the murky, hard-to-navigate period after the project team has moved on, the best approach is always to do what the best project managers do: hope for the best and plan for the worst.
At Owner Insite, we know that none of our clients ever wants to deal with post-closeout litigation.
No one ever wants to chase down material suppliers and hold them accountable for substandard products or prove to the authorities that we followed regulations to the letter, and we very much hope that you never need to do any of those things either.
But we’ve also built Owner Insite to ensure that if you ever do, our advanced digital construction document controls will be here for you every step of the way.
So if you’re ready to retire the banker’s boxes and get rid of the bulky binders while still maintaining meticulous and easy-to-access records, reach out to our team. We’d love to discuss how we can give you the kind of insurance and peace of mind that only information and data can provide.