Go CSI on it!!!

SEPTEMBER 22, 2017

I've been watching a lot of CSI lately. I like how the investigators piece together seemingly random bits of forensic evidence to solve the crime. You might be wondering, what the heck this has to do with construction law?   

Just like a crime, every construction job that goes south consists of a series of events (sometimes subtle) that result in a less than desirable finished product or situation. If the situation concerns a payment issue or delay, or the finished product is claimed defective construction, it will be critical to identify the sequence of events that led to the end result. You want that sequence of events (chain of evidence) to support your position.

How is this done? Its done by diligent and accurate record keeping.  Clearly document your agreements with the other parties to the construction process, Clearly set forth the scope of work, contract amount and timing of payment.  If there is a change in scope of work, clearly document that change, any change in cost and change in project completion time. Agree on any changes to scope, cost or time before you undertake the work. As you are preparing these documents, think CSI. What evidence will best support my position that I am entitled to the relief I claim. While it can take more time to thoroughly document during course of the job, you will have your chain of evidence if something goes wrong.

With respect to claims for defective construction and payment issues, consider documenting your work. . . take photos and keep them on your phone.  Make sure the trades before and after you are doing their jobs correctly. If you feel the work of others isn't correct and will effect your work, document it and provide written notice (more evidence for your chain) of the potential problem. Think about past jobs where problems have arisen and how you could have documented those problems. Apply that learned knowledge to future jobs.

If you sense things are not in order, document any conversations in writing with other parties to the process regarding your work. Date those notes exactly when they happened. You may remember at the time what was said. A year later, probably not.