Importance of Construction Documents When a Job Goes Bad
I was recently involved with a company in a dispute concerning a project they completed and turned over to the owner more than three years ago. During that time, there were no problems, complaints or issues raised by the owners or brought to the installer’s attention. The installer first heard about a problem after something failed and caused an injury.
This is a good example of how important it is to follow construction documents. Ensure that you define to your customers what parts of the project are under warranty and what needs to be part of an ongoing maintenance program. It is also important to spend time with the owners at the end of the project, defining their responsibility concerning the maintenance needed to keep everything performing as intended.
Subcontractors are responsible for submitting shop drawings for approval for their work. Architects and general contractors are responsible for approving the work and confirming that it is done as per the contract drawings. Project owners are responsible after the work has been commissioned and turned over to perform reasonable maintenance to keep the project performing the way it was designed. Later, if something goes wrong, it is important to have these documents on file to prove the correct steps were followed.
It is not the installer’s job to devise ingenious solutions to all future problems and implement them independently. This would violate the contract documents. If any companies and authorities see problems with the construction, they need to report it up the chain with documentation. Only when everyone has signed off and the drawings updated can upgrades be implemented.
Anything mechanical needing periodic adjustment or fluid levels checked needs a scheduled maintenance program by the owner. This should also be spelled out in the job documents. You need to make sure that all product and maintenance documents from the manufacturers get turned over at the end of the project to make this clear.
You always want to be prepared for that phone call that can come years after a job is completed with documentation that things were done right on your side.