How Automation Reduces Rework and Liability
June 27, 2019
Let me open with a true story: a few years back, there was a large GC who completed a mixed-use project with little issue. They closed out the project on time, on budget, and thought they were in the clear after turning it over to the owner. During the warranty period, a water leak in the building caused the facilities team to open up one of the walls in a single unit. When they did so, they noticed there was no firestopping to be found behind the wall. They were originally relieved that the leak was confined to a single unit but this immediately turned to dread as they assumed the entire building was not properly firestopped.
The building owner called up the GC and demanded that they come back with the subs, tear open every wall, put in the proper firestopping, and then close-in and refinish all of the walls in the building. All of them. The owner’s expectation was that the expense of this rework was coming out of the GC’s pocket. They were also going to enforce liquidated damages until completion and the GC was on the hook for any associated liability.
This is a nightmare scenario for any general contractor; being on the hook for work missed by a subcontractor. Luckily for them, they had sound QA/QC processes, and the project team took and catalogued a ton of progress photos. Using the progress photos, they were able to narrow down the scope of the rework to a few units. So instead of having to tear apart every single wall to check for firestopping, they discovered that only a few walls needed to be opened up. The use of progress photos ended up saving the project millions of dollars and any associated long-tail liability.
This example demonstrates the very real role that properly capturing and documenting information on a project can play when an unexpected situation occurs. The project team was smart to take the progress photos before closing the walls in. They saved the remaining profit on the project, kept the owner happy, and limited the potential liability from such a misstep. This, however, shouldn’t just be left to chance or a pipe bursting. Project teams need sound processes, readily-available and accurate information, and quicker ways to document the things happening on-site. As a way to better handle this, a lot of organizations are turning towards using automation.
Automated construction progress and site photos are a key piece of this puzzle, and providers like StructionSite and HoloBuilder are making it easy for project teams to digitally capture how something looks on-site at a given point in time. As drones and autonomous machines make their way to the worksite to photograph progress overnight, outsourcing to these companies can help bring expertise and relieve pressure on field teams. This is an incredible advancement for the industry, and many are rushing to take advantage of it.
So, why not rush to take advantage of automating submittal log generation, too? Complete and accurate submittal logs help project teams and the trades get out ahead of any potential liability and litigation. Scope inconsistencies and uncertainties can be identified and addressed long before anyone steps on the job site, thus reducing the potential for mistakes and rework down the road. Automating submittal log generation not only relieves the project team of a tedious and time-consuming process (just like with automating site photos), but also ensures that submittal, closeout, and product data is generated quickly and readily available for all project stakeholders.
Construction documentation and processes, including accurate submittal logs, help to keep teams on track and insulated from potential future liability. Automating submittal log creation ensures that every submittal, QA/QC & closeout requirement, and piece of product data is collected, logged, and organized in such a way that your team can easily maintain contract compliance throughout the entire project lifecycle. The general contractor mentioned above got lucky… use automation to make sure you don’t need to.