Keeping good project records

No one wants to have disagreements or end up in court on a project, but if you do, keeping good project records will pay dividends. Unfortunately the construction industry is notorious for disputes so always aim for the best but plan for the worst

Why is it so important?

Although it may seem obvious that accurate record keeping is important, there are many people who still neglect them. For people who are inexperienced it might not seem that important. They may think that as long as everything is going ok, keeping records is a waste of time. However, in the event of ending up in court there will be a mad scramble to try and find everything

Good record keeping is not just a matter of good practice. Most standard forms of contract stipulate that project records must be kept. As such , it’s never a good idea to verbally agree anything without making a written record of it

Which records should be kept?

As a minimum you should keep the below:

  • Programme
  • Progress records
  • Resource records
  • Correspondence
  • Contract
  • Tender documents
  • Health and safety
  • Minutes of meetings

The programme on a project is a live constantly changing document. It is usually updated every week. This will be done when the client and contractors have a weekly progress meeting. There may be occasions where work has fallen behind and it has been necessary to produce an accelerated programme. This usually means that there has been a requirement to increase the labour with the associated extra costs

A copy of the original programme should be kept , along with copies of all updated programmes. Also, notes should be kept of any events that caused an impact to the programme

Keeping good project records

Progress records

These can be in the form of percentages. They will show what percentage of each activity was achieved per week compared to what was planned. A record of what was planned will be in the lookahead schedules. It is important to record anything that affected progress. This must also include anything the client did to impede progress. They must also show any actions that the client or contractor took to mitigate any problems that were impeding progress

Resource records

During the weekly progress meeting, the contractor should let the client know how many men they intend to have on the project the following week. It is important the client keeps accurate records of how many men are actually on site every day.

Resources are not just the labour on site. Records should also be kept of how much plant and materials were on site. If the contractor was unable to deliver or store materials or plant because of something the client did, this needs to be recorded


Its important to keep all emails sent between client and contractor as well as any written correspondence. You should keep everything starting from your initial contact not just once work was started. This will include copies of all revisions of drawings used on the project. It’s good practice to also keep any videos or photos taken at any time on the project

Before you start work it is wise to write into the contract the agreed method you are going to use for contractual communication. Many people have multiple email accounts and you should use the same one for all communication. Whatsapp is not advisable as a channel for contractual communication


In any contractual dispute you will need to refer back to the contract. The contract may have gone back and forth several times before an agreed version was signed. So make sure you keep all versions of it and make notes of who wanted additions/deletions and why.

A common cause of disputes is the cost of variations. It is critical to nail down your scope before contracts are signed. It is always worth putting in the extra time to make sure your scope is as detailed as possible

Tender documents

Keeping accurate records of all tender documents is very important. You are also advised to keep all communications from contractors that didn’t win the contract. A high percentage of disputes arise from the matter of costs. You must be able to show that the contractor was fully aware of the cost of everything before the project started.

You may need to justify why you accepted the tender from the contractor you are in dispute with. As part of your due diligence at the tender stage, you are supposed to interrogate each tender to look for inaccuracies. You may have to share some of the blame if you just accepted the cheapest tender and later on the project was affected by financial issues

Keeping good project records

Health and safety

Accidents, or any health and safety incidents can have the potential to cause serious delays on a project no matter how small the incident. Therefore, it’s important to keep records of everything relating to H+S. This will include any warnings you have given to individual workers and every time a H+S matter was discussed in any meetings.

It’s a legal requirement to appoint people to the relevant positions under CDM 2015. So make sure that you have documentary evidence to show that you have appointed the right people in the correct manner

Minutes of meetings

It doesn’t matter how small a project is, there should be regular meetings between the client and contractor. This is where each side will have the chance to bring up any issues that may affect the progress of the project. It’s also where any Health and safety issues can be raised.

After these meetings a copy of the minutes should be emailed to everyone in attendance and any other stakeholders. Everyone will have a chance to challenge these if they don’t think they are an accurate record of what was said. If not, these minutes will be accepted as an accurate record of what was said in the meeting and may explain events that happened after


If you end up in court in a contractual dispute it will usually be because one side has not held up their side of the contract. This may have caused a delay to the project or caused additional cost

In court you will be trying to show a timeline and a sequential record of what happened. You will need to show that you have adhered to  all your contractual obligations. Having accurate project records will be your best chance of being able to do this


Helping clients set up a project and keeping accurate records is one of the many services  we offer. Please  contact us to see how we can help you


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