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How much photo documentation is necessary on jobsites?

The construction industry has historically been an under-digitized sector, only beating out agriculture and hunting. Change is upon us and projects are adopting new technology on the job site. Superintendents and project engineers are now armed with powerful mobile apps and photo and video capture devices wherever they are on the job site. Mobile devices with high quality cameras, 360°, and high resolution site cameras are becoming commonplace. Making sure this equipment is used efficiently, by capturing quality photos and videos, can play a significant role in the success of a project.

What photos should be taken, and why?

There are many reasons to take photos and videos on the job site. Some critical uses for these photos are weekly/monthly reports, schedule tracking, bank inspections, safety documentation, insurance claims, and even marketing and business development. Each of these deliverables requires visual documentation with a specific purpose in mind. For example, documenting schedule progress with photos of pre-pour, in-wall inspections, and task completion. Adding photos or videos to weekly or monthly reports provides documentation of progress and allows the status to be easily communicated to project collaborators. Photos documenting deficiencies, punch items, and safety observations provide a means to track what needs to be followed up on and corrected. Lastly, photos and videos documenting incidents and accidents on the job site capture the results of something that happens on the job site protecting future claims. Jobsites are always changing and digital media assets allow us to capture a moment in time on the project for communication and collaboration with our team.

Architects working in office on construction project

What is the right number of photos?

The importance of having photo documentation is evident to most construction professionals, but how do we make sure we are taking enough photos and videos? Some companies, like Suffolk, have gone as far as to require a certain number of photos taken each week or month. Often there are requirements are defined by the owner as part of the project specifications. Virtually all jobsites capture photos on a daily (or twice daily) frequency, though some types of photo documentation is milestone driven. The larger the project, the more pictures should be taken, however more technical projects, such as laboratories and hospitals, often require the highest level of documentation.

On average projects using Newmetrix (formerly Smartvid.io) are taking ~400 photos per month. These photos are spread across progress, quality and safety documentation. No matter the size of the project, you should be capturing at least 250 pictures per month. That is just 12 photos per day which will take you less than 15 minutes. After you evaluate your company’s photos and video documentation consider setting a company policy and reporting mechanism to measure and manage adherence to your defined standard. In addition to the number and frequency of photos, consider also ensuring that your teams capture location and subcontractor details for progress photos in order to add context to the photos and streamline the organization, retrieval, and sharing of photos.

Documentation for multiple uses

When captured and organized efficiently, visual project documentation can be used in multiple ways. Changes often happen on the job site, and we are asked to defend the installation of work before the issue of a change order. Photos and video can be the proof that is necessary for dispute resolution whether dealing with the owner or the subcontractor. Every project needs to get funded, and documentation of work completed provides a great way to expedite pay applications with inspectors and owners. Even when projects are complete, there is a lot of value in proper visual documentation. As we are always trying to secure the next project, these assets are invaluable to marketing and business development teams. There are circumstances when things don’t go right on a job site. Having visual documentation of what happened can be a great training tool for employees, and can be used to ensure that there is not a repeat of historical incidents and accidents. Quality documentation provides value to construction firms not only during the project but well after it is over as well.

Tracking, storing and analyzing project photos doesn't have to be an arduous task. Companies using Newmetrix have found they can organize, analyze and process visual documentation easily with help from our AI engine, Vinnie. Whether you are using Newmetrix to track safety issues, inspections, milestones or to provide marketing content, you can be confident that Vinnie will store and tag it all for easy retrieval when you need it. Want to see it first hand? Sign up for a free trial.

Written by Tim Gattie

Tim is VP of Industry Strategy at Newmetrix. He has 20 years of construction industry experience working for regional, national and international general contractors in roles ranging from Field Engineer to Project Director. Tim is passionate about using technology as a tool to improve the way construction projects are delivered and is eager to share his story with others in the industry. Gattie graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Arizona, California and Utah. When not at work, Tim enjoys golfing, traveling and being a great dad to his two boys.

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