Construction site diary: Everything you need to know

Written by LetsBuild

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What is a construction site diary?

Also referred to as the construction log or site journal, the site diary is your construction project’s record of all its worksite progress including all events and activities that could affect your construction progress and quality of your completed work. In saying so, it is important that you fill out your site diary daily and as incidences occur. Your site diary is the backbone of all your construction site reporting.

Today, we will delve into a simple explainer article on construction site diaries and their importance. To start off, a site diary is a document of “first record”, where a competent site supervisor or manager initially records any occurrences on-site.

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Why is it important to keep a construction site diary?

It is important to keep a construction site diary as construction logs are a great tool to demonstrate what work was done, which tasks were completed, what problems were solved and what issues were outstanding on specific days. Daily logs compound to an archive of records that may be useful at any time. All verbal agreements and deals come and go but recorded documents can always be retrieved.

New people or contractors will only see what is on the official documentation. If a contractor steps out of a job and a new team comes in, they will not have access to the verbal agreements made in previous meetings and site visits. They can only work on what’s officially recorded in your daily reports or meeting minutes.

Your site diary also allows you the ability to track task progress and not just rely entirely on your memory. Daily logs benefit all on-site shareholders and make all tasks easily traceable with proper accountability.

Do not dismiss the significance of your daily construction logs

Your construction site is a mangled venue of intricate activities, specific plan details, exhaustive designs, and various construction professionals. You cannot expect that there won’t be any issues involved. To make sure that everyone involved in the project understands each other’s role, different teams need to work accordingly with a variety of documents usually involving drawings and procedures needed to complete the construction projects.

Separate shareholders will have independent objectives with regards to keeping records of construction progress and day-to-day activities.

Keep site records; they are beneficial both to you and your clients

Having daily construction logs is constructive for you and invaluable to your clients. Having your daily site logs gives you gainful insight on your construction site progress and situation. It makes it easier to demonstrate to your client the project’s continuous progress and the specific steps or processes they want to see.

Your detailed daily documentation with photo attachments makes it easy to explain why this-and-that is taking so long to install. The site diary gives a complete step-by-step account of individual activities that form an entire process, for example, setting up foundations and panels, fixing seals, etc.

Your site diary: evidence for your work activities

Your daily construction site records provide important evidence of what happened on a specific day. Not necessarily for use in court but for exhibit in internal information and construction documentation. It is impossible for you or anyone on the construction site to remember every event, discussion or occurrence in the entirety of a project’s construction lifetime.

Remember to use daily site records, not against someone else, but to remind our memories and present important details from specific construction areas, tasks or dates. By logging daily activities and events including weather conditions, the number of workers and their hours, the progress of various particular tasks, safety incidents, quality issues, and other observations, you build your construction project’s very own story.

Use your site diary to tell your stories of construction events to improve your company’s performance or to understand why things happened the way they did. Track the progress of your team, while you assess your construction progress against your plan if it’s going as expected.

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Get clearer insight on site

Keeping daily logs of your work progress gives you a better and clearer insight into ongoing activities and tasks. That means you can better organise all the separate works and plan with the bigger picture in mind. For instance, you monitored the progress of how long it took to install rebars to reinforce concrete slabs, you may want to use this data before you proceed with the next level and you may need to readjust labour force to improve your overall efficiency and productivity.

Do not forget that your construction site is a soup of many trades working together to finish your project. Construction management becomes a hugely complex task trying to organise the many subcontractors on site.

Your site diary will be a big help in logging when a certain contractor worked a specific task in a particular location and how his progress affected the other subcontractors. Your site diary plays an important role in assigning and tracking tasks. It gives context to multi-trade workflows and helps the supervisor coordinate work in that specific location.

Use your site diary to protect your company against disputes

Your site diary is your very own document trail to explain things and events when needed. It is wise to keep a record of your contract state on-site to protect your company if worse comes to worst. You may have to keep all your daily reports of the construction phase even after the completion date.

Include all issues and difficulties in your logs to provide proof later on that you communicated all necessary information to the concerned shareholder. Your site diary is your best friend when it comes to contractual and scheduling claims.

What should I include in my construction site journal?

Since the site diary is a formal record of your construction project’s worksite progress, it should include all events that could affect the progress and the quality of the finished work. In the modern fast-paced construction world, document control and management are imperative for every construction project. No matter what role you play in the project—project manager, site manager, estimator, contracts manager—everyone has the administrative responsibility that is critical for your project’s success.

For the person in charge of the daily site activities, the daily construction log or site diary is a very important administrative tool. Other than being an essential record of your project’s development, your site diary also acts as substantial documentation for many other construction contract aspects.

Usually, it’s the site foreman or inspector who records all the site information while the site agent or contractor representative checks the data entries and signs the site diary. The usual site diary usually includes, but is not limited to the following:

The date and weather conditions

Site diary entries of dates and weather condition reports can help support your requests for work extensions or provide evidence for work delays.

The number of workers in various trades

Keeping a record of the people on site (including subcontractor companies, their workers and their hours) helps you organise appropriate worker amenities that are specified by law (for example: commute, accommodations, toilets, showers, mess hall, etc.)

Materials delivered to the site, the quantity used and retained

Having delivery tracking of materials provides you with what has been delivered from all your purchase orders for a specific project.

Items of plant on site, working or idling, including reasons for being idle

“Plant” refers to any heavy machinery or equipment used on site. Logging plant details ensure proper handling of equipment and machinery including issues, delays and their solutions for future reference.

Any concreting activity, the location and quantity of the mixes poured

Recording concreting activities provides a history that concreting processes have been followed.

A brief description of the completed work with the approximate amount done

Logging your completed work alongside the amount of work done including labour hours and contractors ensure retrievable proper work methodologies and workflows have been implemented.

Complaints, accidents or incidents

Having a log of the complaints, accidents and incidents on-site allows you to solve and avoid similar issues.

Any work carried out in connection with the utility service

Documenting such furnishes easy tracking as needed.

Instructions issued to the contractor

Filing instructions to the contractor allows accountability for tasks and works done.
The bulleted item titles mentioned here are taken verbatim from the book, Modern Construction Project Management, Second Edition (Tang et al., 2003). Ideally, the more data your on-site teams can consistently capture on a daily basis, the better will be your team’s understanding of work trends, progress, and unforeseen costs.

Additionally, for your paper documents, make sure that all lines and spaces not used in your site diary or journal must be crossed out so that your daily logs are kept from possible unofficial alterations or changes after a workday or significant event has ended.

More to read: How can a digital site diary improve on-site quality control?

Do I really need a site diary for my construction projects?

If you are still asking yourself if you should have a site diary despite all the arguments presented above, here’s a quick short answer: Yes! A construction site diary is very important and you do need it even just for these four practical reasons that are basically a simplified summary of the above paragraphs:

  1. You can use your site diary as documentary evidence in any case of construction site disputes. It is always admissible in court.
  2. Your construction logs will be requested in any accident investigation. Work covers and insurance companies will need your site diary for their investigations.
  3. Your site diary will be very handy in monitoring and maintaining your hire equipment to avoid unnecessary multiple hiring.
  4. Your site diary also records worker attendance for easy contractor invoicing and change outs.

How do I write my construction project diary?

Gone were the days of pen-and-paper logging in your site diary. Excel and word docs and even legacy software don’t cut the work anymore—these things will only waste your time and resources. Remember, the key to a functional site diary is the accuracy of its recordings. You would not want to do manual keeping as it presents a risk instead of protecting you from risks.

The most convenient and accurate way to keep a site diary is to do it with the use of a construction management app. Use a dedicated site diary construction management app that allows you to create your construction logs directly on your mobile device while you are on site. Easily keep records of your daily logs and monitor your work progress and track issues as they get solved.

Attach photos and other documents to give more context to your daily construction entries. Generate and send reports within the app or export them as site diary PDFs for your email contacts. For quicker logs, you can use ready-to-use daily log templates.

Having a digital site diary eliminates the risk of losing paper entries and paper trails. Going digital means having the ability to easily search through all your documents to retrieve specific information as needed.

Examples of site diary and templates

Most samples provided online are generic and can be customised for your specific project needs. No matter what your role is on-site, the most important part is to fill your site diary forms DAILY and when SPECIFIC INCIDENTS occur. It is the reference document for many other documents.

Simple site diary

This site diary template is useful to collect very generic daily site data. It’s a free template by Contractor Talk that you can download for free from this link.

This one is an easy-to-use template that is based on an intuitive construction management app. You can customise to your specific role on-site by adding custom elements.

For other construction report templates, we have a library that you can explore by just clicking the link.

Transitioning to interactive site diary reports

There are numerous construction management software providers that either focuses purely on daily construction logs or have it as one of their features in their project management tool. What we find to be most useful is dedicated project management software that can deliver an end-to-end digital solution to construction.

To illustrate, LetsBuild, a construction management app, has a mobile site diary as the main focus of its construction project management software design. You can configure the app to require detailed and straightforward filling in of daily key site activities and events.

You can even start with a template for quicker daily site reporting, customise a template for your specific needs, or make a template from scratch that is suitable for particular recording and reporting needs. The software basically allows you to automate your daily logging of construction activities on-site so you can save time to focus on more important work.

Ready to give us a try? Book your free demo today.

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