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Why Owners Need Their Own Construction Software - Part 1

Posted by Steve Harper on Feb 10, 2017 9:03:49 AM

Tom, an area director for a growing non-profit in the Dallas Fort Worth area, always assumed their contractor had their back. After all they’d worked with the same company for the past 10 years on a wide range of renovation and new construction projects without issue.

It had always been a successful relationship and it was assumed  that whatever documentation they might need somewhere down the line would be provided to them if they just asked. 

The relationship had always been a good one, until it wasn’t.

It first started with a small crack in the foundation of their new auxiliary hall. “No big deal, we’ll take care of it,” the contractor had promised. And they did. Three months later the crack was not only back but it was bigger. This time it was causing some unusual buckling in the drywall just inside the doorway. Not something people expected to see in a new building. 

Once again a repair was made but the problem came back. By the third repair, the board was asking questions as what might be causing the problem and were beginning to demand answers. 

Tom realizing that they had next to no documentation on the project other than one set of plans provided by the architect began to ask more questions. He also began to ask the contractor for documentation for his files. The friendly relationship with the contractor seemed to cool almost over night. Suddenly phone calls weren’t returned, requests for information largely ignore then one day the contractor simply stopped even trying to communicate back to Tom’s request.

All the while the crack in their auxiliary building was growing bigger until one day someone tripped on the crack and became injured. 

The small crack had grown into a big crack and an even bigger problem.

Three year later and nearly a $100,000 in legal fees and court costs the issue is no where closer to being resolved. The building is now vacant pending litigation. The contractor, the concrete supplier, the subcontractors, the architects and even the engineers all stopped talking to Tom or the board. They refused to share any written documentation or information that he and his team, as the owner, were entitled to. 

An owner trusts the construction partners they select to take care of them. It has always been assumed that as an owner, the person writing the check for the construction, is entitled to all the information that goes into the project. Unfortunately that is not always the case. The contractor, architect and engineer all manage their information and construction data in their own environments with their own processes and tracking. The owner should be privileged to that information but in all honesty only receive what is self-selected by the stakeholders which is often sanitized to minimize questions from the owner.

When there’s no problems like a defect, warranty or need to pursue legal action that is fine for the owner. Most owners we know don’t want to rock the boat assuming everyone’s a professional and will do what is right. That’s the way it should work right?

However, when something comes up like an issue that may require enforcement or legal remedy, that’s when the owner is up a creek without an information paddle. Those partnerships the owner thought they had are gone as quickly as the last check they wrote to close out the construction project.

Over the course of the next few posts we’re going to explore why an owner should absolutely insist on using their own software no matter how big or small a construction project might be. We’ll discuss why it’s essential for owners to be actively involved in their project and diligent in their collection in every last bit of data on the project they are writing a check for. After all, it is their money that is going into the construction project, why shouldn’t they have all the data right?

Finally we’ll conclude with some final thoughts on how construction project management software can easily be introduced to a project team without feeling bad about asking every member of the construction team to use it. We’ll explore how to have the conversation with your project stakeholders and why it’s being required from the owner. 

As an owner you walk away with the keys at the end of your construction project shouldn’t you walk away with all the data from your project too? 

No need to answer that question, I think we both know the answer already. 

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