Your Legal Life – Document Retention

Preserve Your Construction Data Because Your Legal Life May Depend On It.

Last year we launched constructionlitigationhold.com which is a free tool that allows anyone to look up the document retention and litigation hold requirements for any state.

Why did we create this?

Good question. Bad situation.

We had a prospective client, a commercial real estate developer, that approached us last year looking for some new construction project management software. They had never used software but had recently the hard reality of why tools like Owner Insite exist.

They had always assumed that the trust they had placed in the project team was enough.

It wasn’t. 

 They had become embroiled in a lawsuit for which much of the matter and root cause of the conflict was tied to documents and communication they no longer possessed. It was housed in their contractor’s software which they always assumed would be available to them if they ever needed it. 

Spoiler alert! It wasn’t. 

You see, this company was the owner of the project and just a few months after completing the project, issues started to occur. At first, the issues were minor, but then more and more defects became apparent. Prior to this, they had a good working relationship with the contractor during the project, and assumed that these minor defects would be easily resolved and taken care of.

Calls were not returned. Emails were ignored. Finally, they reached out to the project manager who had worked with the contractor only to be told, “I’ve moved on to another project and this really isn’t my issue anymore.”

They started going through the documents they had been provided at closeout. The information was severely lacking and incomplete – something they had failed to realize at the time. They assumed construction data and reports specific to the items in question would be provided to them upon if they just asked. Wrong!

The contractor’s great software system which housed all of their important construction data was suddenly no longer available to them. Repeated requests to the contractor to provide specific data concerning RFIs, submittals and even installation reports – all things relevant to the issue at hand – were no longer available to them.

When finally contacting a lawyer, they received less than ideal news. After reviewing everything they had in hand, they were told their chances of actually seeing a positive result was unlikely. It would be a costly and frustrating process.

Like many owners who focus on the design, construction and opening of their new building, the last thing people think about is their document retention. You should receive a complete and comprehensive accounting of all aspects of communication, data and even financial aspects of their project. Those are details that most people incorrectly assume will be as easily accessible after the project, as it was during the project. 

That just simply won’t happen if your data, as an owner, is in some other company’s software. All that data concerning your project isn’t your data after all. It technically is theirs and if you get crossways with an architect, contractor or sub, your chances of getting YOUR DATA back is slim to none.

Every project owner needs to protect and preserve a complete and accurate rendering of their project data. Having a forward-thinking approach to managing that data and the requirements imposed by your state on exactly what should be retained and for how long is exactly why we built our free lookup tool. Now you can see your document retention requirements. 

From commercial developers to school districts, understanding the requirements placed upon you as an owner are critical to know. Having a software platform that ensures the data you receive from your project team is the first step to ensuring accountability, transparency and long-term protection against any stakeholder usurping their long-term responsibility to you. 

You never know when you may run into a future warranty issue or discover workmanship defects. But when you use a tool like Owner Insite, you are better equipped to preserve your interests and hold the right parties accountable.