The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is truly relevant to the world of construction and can be a critical component of avoiding or expeditiously resolving construction disputes. CAS Group is often our clients’ eyes and ears on the ground. In our experience as Program Manager or Owner’s Representative on high-value infrastructure projects, it is critical to create a robust project record comprised of both documents and photographs that effectively tracks progress, supports informed decision-making, and promotes project delivery to schedule, budget, and performance objectives.
The value of digital records – particularly photographic documentation – cannot be emphasized enough in preventing and resolving construction disputes. Often, project personnel from all sides are called upon to provide accounts when a dispute arises. This is challenging enough during active construction but can lead to a painstaking resolution process after a project is complete. By using cutting-edge technology, our construction supervision and contracts management teams are able to contemporaneously collect relevant information, document the quality of work performed by contractors on site, easily access digital photos and documents from anywhere, try to stay ahead of issues, and when issues do occur try to mitigate them as quickly as possible.
There are various ways to build a photographic record. We recommend that projects utilize fixed cameras to monitor and document both security and project progress on an ongoing basis. We’ve easily refuted schedule claims when timestamped photographs demonstrated that equipment was on site but unutilized or weather conditions were not as severe as claimed by a contractor. Drone photography or other aerial photography on a scheduled basis, e.g. monthly, is also an excellent method to document progress. In addition, CAS Group recommends and has implemented photo-based construction inspection technology so that inspectors – the boots on the ground – can document specific construction-related activities, site conditions, quality or safety concerns, and more in a detailed fashion.
To that end, CAS Group is an early adopter of the Headlight platform and among the first using it as an Owner’s Representative. Our early insight into the value of this photo-driven tool was strengthened when Headlight received $25.6 million in venture capital in June 2020. Headlight allows our construction supervision teams to capture, interpret, and act on data from the job site in real-time with images and extensive details.
By having every picture tagged and stored in a database, we can easily access and respond to questions and possible disputes. Using this advanced tool has helped CAS Group’s construction team and contracts managers to respond to issues related to contaminated soil, weather related delays, and equipment challenges – sometimes even remotely. There are many reasons this is important, but it is also part and parcel of our approach to plan for the best and prepare for the worst.
The detailed project record created with Headlight has been instrumental in evaluating and responding to contractors’ Change in Law and Force Majeure claims stemming from CV-19. Using the project record as a basis for negotiations has allowed the parties to quickly and amicably work through these issues.
We like to expect that our clients’ projects will progress as expected without delay or disruption. But, we recognize that a range of issues can effect success from inclement weather to unforeseen site conditions, procurement issues, contractor competence, and – as we all now know – global pandemic. The detailed project record created with Headlight has been instrumental in evaluating and responding to contractors’ Change in Law and Force Majeure claims stemming from CV-19. Using the project record as a basis for negotiations has allowed the parties to quickly and amicably work through these issues.
Every project creates volumes of information and documentation. While parties might not always agree on the impact of an event, there should never be a disagreement about what is happening or has happened onsite. Robust records with images mitigate the usual concerns about fading memory.
To ensure success, photographic documentation is just one tool in the toolbox. CAS Group also builds a strong project record by attending and documenting meetings, effectively and equitably administering contracts, documenting contractual issues, and creating a complete electronic document management system. Our tools help us to raise performance, schedule, or quality concerns early so that they can be rectified before becoming a larger issue. Owners, contractors, government entities, and even the general public are best served by well-organized project records. Having accurate information that is a “visual truth” and a robust project record offers the ability to promptly investigate, evaluate, and resolve disputes.
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