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Document retention and construction defect claims

Whether you are building a new home, breaking ground on a new office building or planning an addition to your home, construction projects of all sizes have many working parts. There is the planning phase, design phase and the building phase, and during all those phases, the parties involved in the construction project will conduct quality checks, making adjustments where need be.

The process of taking a design to an actual building can be lengthy and complex. Moreover, it is likely to leave a huge paper trail, detailing all vendors, suppliers, contractors, designers and subcontractors used for the entire project. These details on these countless documents might seem just a part of the process and unimportant once that part of the project has been completed. However, these documents become very imperative if defects are discovered.

If a defects claim is made, it could become very challenging to initiate construction litigation without the necessary documents that detail the entire life of the construction project. Without these documents, it is difficult to prove what was agreed on and what was done. Moreover, expert witnesses are confined to the limited information provided, meaning that the lack of documentation could cause their opinion to be stricken from the record.

Document retention could help prove a defect and help with the valuation of damages. Therefore, it is important to retain any documents detailing the design, planning and construction of a project. If some or all of these documents are lost or cannot be located, this does not mean that a claim cannot be made; however, it most likely means that further investigation will be necessary or a claim can only be made on available information.

Those dealing with this or any other construction litigation issue should take steps to understand the options available to them.

Source: Daily Business Review, "Construction Defect Lawsuits Often Hinge on Document Retention," Jason E. Handin, Oct. 26, 2016

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