Documenting construction meeting minutes
By Yu-Ngok Lo, AIA
Those of us who have been in weekly construction meetings (also known as owner, architect, contractor (OAC) meetings) are no strangers to construction meeting minutes. These minutes are essential, administratively and legally. Even if we have super-human memories (and most likely we don’t), minutes are necessary to document what was discussed in construction meetings, because all the attendees will have different memories of what happened.
Meeting minutes record for posterity what of importance happened and what was decided at the meeting. Meeting minutes also keep track of items that require attention and follow-up, and serve as reminders for the parties responsible for getting them resolved.
Who is responsible for writing and distributing meeting minutes? Whoever has that responsibility written into their contract. Construction meeting minutes are usually produced by the contractor or the construction manager, but sometimes the owner-architect agreement gives that responsibility to the architect. Although the format of the minutes varies, below are some basic informational items that construction meeting minutes should have:
- project name and address
- name of the preparer (and company)
- meeting number, time, and date
- attendees and who they represent
- total contract calendar days elapsed
- anticipated date of substantial completion
Generally, construction meeting minutes are written in a neutral third-person style. Each item addressed in the meeting should be numbered chronologically. Here is an example:
Item 152.3 - YL (initial of the person) said that on 8/23/19 he received a Field Memo from the contractor requesting that Firm ABC prioritize the review of Submittal 56. JM said that Submittal 56 is a critical path item that has a long lead time. YL said that as a courtesy to the contractor, he will start reviewing Submittal 56 today. He reminded JM that Firm ABC would still have 30 days contractually to review and return the submittal per the General Conditions of the Contract Documents. YL also said that as discussed in previous meetings, Submittal 56 should have been submitted to Firm ABC for review a month earlier based on the approved Submittal Schedule. YL also reminded JM that delays (if any) to the construction schedule as a result shall be the Contractor’s sole responsibility.”
In this case, “152” is the meeting number and “3” is the item number. The action(s) required for these items discussed and the responsible parties should also be included. In this case, the responsible party (or “ball in court” (BIC)) would be Firm ABC and the date due would be 30 days from the meeting date. Some information-only items don’t require action. In this case, simply put down “Info” under action.
Although it is typically acceptable to paraphrase rather than quote exact statements, it is important to state the facts clearly. All attendees must be given the opportunity to review the draft minutes for at least 48 hours before making them official. The writer of the minutes should revise the minutes per the attendees’ comments. If there is disagreement on the wordings of items, this needs to be discussed promptly with all associated parties before the final minutes are issued. If it turns out that attendees disagree frequently with the draft minutes, then a disinterested third party might need to be hired to prepare the minutes.
Unfortunately, disputes and disagreements are inevitable during construction. By clearly recording what was said and decided in construction meeting, construction meeting minutes become valuable legal documents, and are often reviewed by arbitrators and mediators. However, well-written construction meeting minutes will help in avoiding potential conflicts and prevent the need for arbitrators and mediators.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily approved by, reflective of or edited by other individuals, groups, or institutions. This article is an expression by the author(s) to generate discussion and interest in this topic.