4 Ways To Correctly Document Your Construction Project Decisions

Document Decisions in Construction

“Please proceed with the changes.”

That familiar phrase used by many but not written or documented properly can cause major issues. Documenting decisions in your construction projects are not only save you time and money, but it should be a best practice on every construction project.

There are many tools and resources for you to use and capture decisions or important commitments, but what is consider as such? How can you prepare for a potential claim or situation that needs documentation? Check out some tips below on how to properly document decisions in construction projects.

What are considered as “Important Documents”?

To start we need to define what we can consider as important documents.

Blueprints, shop drawings, emails, scope of work and proposals are critical items that should be kept for many years. One great way of achieving appropriate document retention process is using exiles to keep track of the changes and documents. However, sometimes it is important to keep track and understand the context of the dialogue. Payroll stubs and insurance coverage can also form part of this list and the original copies of those must be kept for longer period of times.

Documenting Decisions

Firstly, it is imperative to establish a communication plan to make sure the right stakeholders are aware and notified of the decisions. Simple decision such as small scope changes are captured through informal communications such as letters or emails before they are formalized.

The contract adjustments need to follow the proposal and scope is clarified and accepted by all parties among other key items pertaining to your project.

Don’t forget to document scheduling decisions, and schedule changes as well.

Bid and Scope Documentation

During the pre-bid and pre-construction process many decisions are made. You will receive emails or participate in conference calls on which new scope or clarifications are made; and as soon as possible you will need to add those changes to the scope and share that information with the project owner or his rep.

The documentation process shall contain estimates, take offs, unit prices, supplier bids and labour burdens supporting the adjustments.

Documenting the dates of when you received approval to issue a PO is important if you need to prove material or purchase order delays associated with the decisions. The right documentation required for materials and purchases must include the approval date of material, purchase order and a document with the delivery date that the supplier is offering.

To document this decision, the purchase order must reference or be tied to a specific section of the contract and spec. Make sure the approver of the material receives and signs a copy, and so do you, noting the date of approval and the delivery date.


This one deserves special attention. Every time an important decision is reached, it is imperative to record or produce a snapshot of the actual schedule, documenting at what time the decision was made.

That snapshot can serve as a reference to document what changes in schedule are needed after the decision. At that point, the schedule should be baselined and saved along the required documentation that forms part of the decision process. Also, please capture a comparison between the bid schedule and the current schedule. It is recommended to document two-week look ahead and add those to the change file.

Daily Communication

This is another key item to consider during the documentation process. Assign one person that can store and keep track of project diaries, field notes, weather conditions, delivery, government official visits and informal conversation.

Those files should be kept and must be associated with dates and trades affected by the decision process. For every issue a separate record must be created and archived separately. Change order logs must also be kept and the log must include due dates, responsible person, approval date, referenced specs and submittal date. Similar information must be recorded for drawings, RFIs and design specs being updated.

Time stamps are normally recorded on most documents and legible names are required to identify who received or signed for the document, file, and or material. The hierarchy of the project team is important to decide whether a project manager can authorize changes or if you need to seek approval from someone higher in the chain of command.

All of these documents must be retained and shared with the project team through electronic means to make are they are available in the future and should be stored and documented in a chronological order and by subject.

Physical Evidence

With newer technology, it is recommended to record an aerial image using your drone along with photos and other videos capturing visuals on the project status. Take photos at each spot before the job starts and continue through the job finishing up with a final round after the job is completed.

These photos should be taken at least once a week and preferably more often. Make sure to review the contract documents to make sure you have followed the contractual process to document project communications.

Ebook - decipher a Primavera P6 schedule

How do you document your projects progression? Would you use any of these tips to make your project run smoothly and to minimize delays? Leave a comment below with your thoughts or tips you find useful.

Juan Rodriguez is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a registered Professional Engineer in Illinois, New York and Puerto Rico with over 21 years of experience managing large civil works, power generation and renewable energy projects. He has international experience working in US, Canada and the Caribbean. Mr. Rodriguez also offers his services as a consultant to builders, contractors and construction related professionals. Juan is an excellent speaker and a true leader that knows how to combine plain old school with new technology, maximizing results for your organization. Juan will contribute with his thorough understanding of corporate and industry practices, applicable laws, processes, standards, and will provide evaluation of project activities. He has demonstrated excellent communication and interpersonal skills, magnificent contract and business acumen.