3 Reasons to Visually Document the Life Cycle of Construction Projects

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Construction project visual documentation is critical to the success of your project. The challenges that construction teams face aren’t entirely unique to the industry, but the pace and intensity of the work can make them especially daunting.

The complexity of the projects is one of these challenges — from pouring the foundation to installing the MEP systems — there are many consecutive layers involved. Even a small error can become exponentially more time-consuming and costly to address once the work has moved on to the next phase.

Compounding these difficulties is the sheer number of project team members and subcontractors who are involved in a single project. Everyone is focused on a specific set of tasks, but often crews will rotate out when their part of the work is finished; with them goes their knowledge of how things were done. Visually documenting a project from start to finish at every step is crucial in order to navigate the inherent complexities of the construction process efficiently and effectively.

3 Reasons Construction Project Visual Documentation is Critical

Dispute Resolution

Construction project visual documentation can be a game-changer in the dispute resolution space, and the benefits of maintaining a detailed visual record of your work extend deeper than you might think.

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Whether an issue crops up during construction or after it’s all done, detailed visual documentation can trace problems back to their source, showing easily where, when, and on whose watch the original error occurred.

There are a variety of reasons why you might need to trace a problem back to its source. You may need to determine who is responsible for bearing the cost of repairs, reviewing the quality of work, monitor the construction schedule, figure out when your project fell behind schedule, or determine what resources are needed to move forward with a resolution.

In some cases, documentation may be very helpful in limiting your liability during either arbitration or a lawsuit. Having physical proof of the actual conditions of your project at every stage of construction is a way to safeguard yourself against absorbing the cost of construction defects. It’s much easier to determine who is responsible when you have photographic evidence that everything was going to plan until a particular point of the project.

Prevent Mistakes From Compounding

If left unchecked, even a small error can easily set off a chain of events that results in a tremendous headache. Proactive reviews of your visual documentation can help pinpoint errors and ensure everything is going according to plan. How often the material is reviewed will depend on the project itself, but establishing a process as part of your regular QA/QC practice is a great habit that helps you get even more value from your investment in visual documentation.

Construction projects of every size have a lot of moving pieces making construction project visual documentation critical. Making time for regular reviews of documentation can make all the difference. If a mistake is made or a problem arises, the team member overseeing the documentation can spot it right away. Then, instead of the problem getting buried, or (worse) repeated, the issue can be quickly communicated and addressed with minimal impact to the project schedule or budget.

The bottom line is, catching a problem right away generally translates to saving time and money. However when problems are uncovered late in the game and deep beneath layers of work, using visual documentation can greatly reduce the time and resources needed to investigate the issue and determine the best plan to correct it.

Knowledge Capture

Another important benefit of thorough construction project visual documentation is the opportunity for effective knowledge capture it creates. In an ideal world, the plans would be all you would need to know how everything was done – a quick look and you’d know where every stud, cable, and conduit ran behind every wall. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case.

Some change is unavoidable; when things come up during the construction process that weren’t accounted for in the design process, an executive decision is made and a change is processed. Visual documentation provides an effective, user friendly format to easily track change over the course of construction. Project team members can rely on this visual information to communicate as-built conditions without worrying about whether or not a set of plans have been updated.   

Knowledge capture is arguably even more important after turnover when the facilities management team inherits the building. Even minor problems can become major headaches when there is not an accurate as-built resource. Consider, for instance, how long it can take to fix a leaky ceiling if you don’t know where the plumbing systems are located. Without visual documentation, facilities teams often resort to costly exploration, i.e., putting holes in walls, ceilings or floors.

Contrast that with the ability to trace a pipe or locate water shutoff valves using the visual documentation captured before those critical in-wall systems were covered with layers of insulation and drywall. With detailed visual documentation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, there are no exploratory holes that need to be patched up and very little time wasted wandering around and looking for the sources of problems.

Interested in learning a bit more about how Multivista’s construction project visual documentation services can help your current or upcoming project?

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