By Patrick Barthet

A contractor’s daily reports are critical. In many instances, they are considered key evidence showing what actually occurred at specific times on the job. And since people’s memories fade, those trying to get the truth will likely rely heavily on what the daily reports say happened (especially when presented with a corroborating witness).

The problem is that many contractors fail to create these reports. And those that do create them, do it only at the beginning of the project or sporadically throughout the progress of the job, generally only when they are reminded to do so. Daily reports (hence the name) only become truly effective when they are, in fact, done daily.

The Importance of Timely Documentation.

The reason that daily reports are admissible in court (again, with corroborating testimony) is that they are interpreted as being recorded at or about the time the events in question occurred. Field managers should, therefore, write up these reports daily while the work is occurring or very soon thereafter to capture as accurate an account as possible. Not created until the end of the week or month, the information will surely not be as accurate and may not be as helpful in supporting a particular position.

What to Include in Daily Construction Reports.

To reduce a construction company’s exposures, daily reports should clearly describe the entire project’s status as it applies to a contractor’s scope and the project’s schedule. At a minimum, the report should include the following 8 items:

  • The date of the report;
  • The author of the report;
  • The time work started and finished on that day;
  • A description of the weather;
  • On smaller jobs, a list of the employees and subcontractors, by name, title, and company, who are on the job site. On medium to large jobs, the total number of employees and subcontractors by title and company will suffice;
  • Any material deliveries of significance, especially large dollar items, for example, fixtures or pallets of tile;
  • The current state of the schedule as compared to planned scope of work and what is causing any delay; and
  • Anything else that is out of the ordinary that may be occurring, or not occurring, that is impacting or may impact the project or the contractor’s schedule and work.

Photographing The Work.

Contractors can also supplement their daily reports with photographs.  Case in point – a stucco contractor received a delay claim from the general contractor asserting that he hadn’t completed his work on