Faith Tangara

Visual documentation & dispute resolution

Introduction 

The construction industry is a diverse industry with increasingly complex types of projects that are always evolving not only in design but also in methods of construction. With these complexities, one major constant in every project is disputes. Disputes in construction projects have become quite a common feature and if not resolved as soon as they have arisen they can lead to delays in the stipulated schedule of construction projects, resulting in claims that require lawsuit intervention, loss of time and money. Statistics from the 2021 Global Construction Disputes Report published by Arcadis – The global average value of disputes increased to $54.26 million (US) and 13.4 months to reach resolution. Some of the common causes of disputes in construction projects include; poor project management, variations and changes that are not properly communicated, weather factors that affect construction progress etc. In order to amicably settle such disputes, it is important to have proof that supports any claims. This is where visual documentation plays an important role in dispute mitigation and/or resolution. 

Cause of Construction disputes

Communication/ Variations

It is common for construction projects to have variations. These variations may be caused by factors such as extreme weather conditions, site conditions, change in the scope of work, etc. Such variations change the schedule of work, quantity of materials used and in some cases the quality of work. Good communication of such variations is crucial to delivering a successful construction project. When communication among stakeholders breaks down or is mishandled, it can lead to delays, accidents, costly rework, and eventually construction disputes amongst the parties. .

Project Management

Poor project management leads to project failure. If a project is not managed properly, there will be ripple effects in terms of cost and the schedule. These effects lead to construction disputes between the client and the contractor since the contractor has to pay for liquidated damages, pay for the plant and equipment for the extra days beyond the set practical completion date. 

Construction quality  

The construction process has to follow the specifications in the contract documents. If not, then the quality of the building will be poor and with defects. Such matters that arise due to failure of the contractor following the specifications lead to disputes between the parties. 

Lack of Proper Documentation. 

Failure to keep tabs of all relevant documentation during the construction progress can lead to disputes. A site manager is in charge of proper documentation of all people that enter the site every other day, all materials and their respective quantities that are brought or removed from a construction site. Reference is always made to these documents in case a contractor raises any claims that a contractor. 

These factors and many others may lead to construction disputes. These disputes are not easily predictable, almost impossible to completely avoid, and in most cases, challenging to prove. This is why visual documentation of job site activities is important. They say that a photo is worth 1,000 words; how much more a video? 

In the age of technological advancement, the construction industry cannot be left behind. Documenting construction activities has to be evolved from manual to automated. Automated visual documentation using a construction camera provides more operational value not only through time-lapse videos but also progress sharing. This is achieved through 

combined advancements in cellular connectivity, solar power, artificial intelligence and through research & development which our teams did to achieve this vision.

Evercam construction cameras document every second of construction site activity in 4k video, and provide project management tools that make it easy for customers to find important job-site information to solve problems thereby preventing disputes. Whether it’s an argument between owner and contractor over contractual obligations, the GC and architect over design errors, or an argument with your subcontractors over payment for work completed – conflict is hard to avoid.

How much time and money did your company spend over the last year resolving disputes on your projects?  

Now consider those figures across the global space – a Global Construction Dispute study recently published by Arcadis found that the global average value of disputes increased to $54.26 million and took an average of 14.2 months to resolve. 

When disputes are not resolved efficiently, the potential negative impacts cannot be understated – delays in the construction process, large financial losses, and possibly even large-scale legal action which can harm the reputation of the company as a whole. 

Construction Workers Comparing Notes At a Jobsite
Construction Workers Comparing Notes At a Jobsite

However, there are a lot of moving pieces in construction, and disputes between project stakeholders are to some extent unavoidable. Here are some of the ways our customers have used Evercam to solve these problems quickly

1 – Recording in full video. 

Everything that happens in a construction site is recorded in high resolution and stored in the cloud for future reference. Speaking with one of our clients who was served with a claim on faulty equipment, this is what they had to say about this feature “An equipment manufacturer submitted a damage claim stating that we were responsible for the tire damage on a boom lift that we rented for 4 days 40 days prior. I used a zoomed-in video Video Recording of the day the boom lift was dropped off and drew a circle on the tire with the Edit Tool proving that it was damaged before it ever arrived on the project site”.

In another scenario, damage was done by a vehicle to the sidewalk and the city wanted to fine a client over $10K in damages. The footage from Evercam was used as evidence to prove that the client was not responsible for the damage and avoided paying the fine. Thanks to Evercam providing a digital archive, this client was able to save a lot of money that they would have incurred in lose

2- Having the right data as evidence

Another client who was facing overcharging on material billing stated that, “We contracted an excavator to remove an unknown amount of contaminated soil from a project site that previously was an old paint factory. They were charging us by truckload, which can be difficult to keep track of manually. When I got the bill, it seemed a bit high, so I used Evercam’s Gate Report to generate a photographic report of all tipping trucks in/out that week and cross referenced it with the bill. Turns out they ‘accidentally’ overcharged us by 12 truckloads, approximately $10,000, and corrected the bill once I sent the pdf report.”

3 – Proactively Identify & Mitigate Potential Issues

With the use of construction cameras, one is able to identify any potential issues and mitigate or otherwise avoid a dispute. In one of the job-sites, the cameras captured a glass wall smashed and came tumbling down. The window smashed because it was badly fitted, and this was identified before handover so avoided a potentially costly claim. The window fitting subcontractor then had to check & refit multiple panes.  This would have been disputed without the few seconds of Evercam evidence.

4 – Communicate Issues and Change Orders Fast 

With the use of Live View feature on the construction cameras, one is able to remotely monitor construction projects, the stakeholders are provided with 24/7 visibility and are able to communicate change orders faster compared to physically visiting the site first. This results in less delays that may end up causing any form of disputes. 

Conclusion.

Disputes are part and parcel of the construction process. There will always be an individual arguing that something was done poorly or not done at all, and it’s not a matter of if but when. Of course, there are specific causes and triggers for a dispute that can be avoided from the get-go, such as reducing unpredictability on the job site and making everything as clear as possible, while having contingency plans in place should something go awry, communicating effectively to reduce the rate of disputes occurring, and keeping clear and easily accessible information regarding the state and quality of the work on the ground. Should a dispute arise, there are ways to manage that, such as having clear security records and on-site monitoring, taking advantage of the newest technology in construction, facilitating and clarifying communication on-site and off-site and of course, having clear plans ready from the start to keep everything in check.

Interested to discover more ways that Evercam Construction Cameras can help you during your next project? Get in touch with us today