Construction Daily Reports – The Ultimate Guide
With customers constantly asking you, “When’s it going to be ready?” it’s tempting to find shortcuts on your construction projects.
And one place that foremen and supervisors can cut corners? The daily reports.
But skipping daily reports increases the risk of:
- Small issues becoming big issues, because they weren’t spotted early enough
- Being held accountable for delays that were out of your control
- Miscommunication between parties
- Safety concerns
You might think: “Yeah, but our construction projects are often under enormous pressure to be completed, so how do you expect us to make time for daily reports?”
“This one daily report won’t make a big difference.”
And while that’s probably true, the small risks compound to create much bigger problems.
The long-term consequences of not doing proper site inspections and daily reports are dire: costly accidents, lawsuits, reduced profits, and more. All of which will have a significant impact on your bottom line.
So although construction site inspections and reports might feel redundant or boring, they’ll generate a high ROI in the long run.
This guide will teach you why — and how — to start doing construction daily reports.
Here are the sections:
- What’s a construction daily report?
- What’s the purpose of a construction daily report?
- What goes into a daily report?
- How to make your daily report admissible for court
- How to draft daily or periodic construction reports without spending an hour at the end of every day
- How to choose a daily reports app
- Best practices for creating construction daily reports
- How to use reports to improve your services
- Daily report example and template
What’s a construction daily report?
Construction daily reports document all on-site work done for a construction project in a given day.
They typically include:
- Weather conditions
- Number of working hours
- Type of work performed
- Safety observations
- Potential delays
- Completed tasks
What’s the purpose of a construction daily report?
By documenting the construction project activities, reports provide transparency, reduce communication issues and safety risks, and protect you during lawsuits.
Here are the benefits in more detail:
They reduce delays and other issues
Most of the time, construction projects fail because of bad communication and collaboration. Since many people and companies are involved in projects, there’s a constant risk of misunderstandings, mistakes, and delays.
Daily construction reports can reduce these by documenting and sharing observations made during site visits. Not only do they help stakeholders understand what needs to get done, they also allow you to catch small issues before they grow bigger.
They improve customer relations
When it comes to your client, daily reports help you in several ways:
- They create transparency for your actions.
- They allow you to demonstrate your progress.
- They help the client understand your process.
Your client, for example, may ask you why HVAC is taking so long to install. Daily reports would give them a window into the duration of each individual step, causing them to increase their patience.
If you send daily or weekly reports that demonstrate what you’ve been doing (including materials used, hours spent, etc.), the customer will also feel confident you’re doing a good job.
Translation: They’ll be happy to quickly pay whatever invoices you send their way.
They help you manage your time
As with any kind of reporting, construction progress reports allow you to get a better general view on your project and its progress, issues, risks, evolution, etc.
If you’re not creating regular site reports, you’re driving blind — and won’t know if you’re heading in the right direction (let alone whether you’ll arrive on time!).
They can settle disputes
If a client or general contractor disputes an invoice, your daily construction documentation will be invaluable. It could verify the number of hours worked, the materials used, supplier delays, or weather conditions.
That’s why you should always strive to include detailed documentation, photos, and client signatures on every report. If need be, you might even be able to use them in court (more on that below).
Even if you have a great relationship with your customer, don’t assume disputes and court claims are out of the realm of possibility. Your team could change, your customer’s management could change — and at that point, any verbal agreements will be moot. Without daily reports, new team members won’t know what was agreed upon or discussed, which could lead to conflicts.
In the end, daily construction reports are all about maintaining quality and managing risk. When you make daily reporting a priority, you’ll reduce unplanned costs, lower safety risks, and keep your project on the right track.
What goes into a daily report?
Since they only include what you need, daily reports all contain different building blocks. Here are the most common elements:
- Project information: The project name and number, address, report date and author, etc. Adding this information helps managers, customers, and other parties immediately see which project goes with which report. It’ll also help when you need to look up an old report in your archive.
- Weather conditions: Changes to the weather, such as rain, snow, or intense sun, can cause delays (e.g. when pouring concrete slabs), impact worker efficiency, and increase the potential for accidents.
- Labor time spent: The workers on site, the number of hours they worked, and what they did.
- Equipment used and received: Which major materials were used or received, and which weren’t received (and are causing delays).
- Tasks in progress and tasks completed: Which tasks are in progress (e.g. slab pouring 70% complete) and which tasks are done (and can be documented with photos).
- Potential risks, issues, delays: Anything worth noting, plus areas where managers or the customer could intervene (e.g. a delay of another contractor that prevents you from starting your portion). Don’t forget to include photos so everyone can see the exact issue.
- Safety observations and accidents: All safety risks and observations, again with photos. (When accidents happen, the daily report can protect you from litigation.) In the case of accidents, record who was involved, when and where it occurred, how it impacted the work, and any photos of the event.
How to make your daily report admissible for court
As noted above, daily construction reports are often the most important piece of evidence used in court during a contract dispute. But the problem is they’re not always admissible.
In addition to having your daily reports signed by the client, you should also follow this advice from Corwin & Corwin law firm:
“The most common ground for admissibility of job reports (often the only ground) is that the reports are regularly kept business records of the party who offers them as evidence… To avoid tripping on any of these evidentiary requirements at trial, assign a supervisor or foreman who is on site to fill in the report form each day.
At the end of each week (or at regular intervals) collect the reports from each foreman and file them by project at your office. Make sure there is a report for each day you were on site, and that all are complete and accurate. If there are questions or gaps, address them immediately.”
How to draft daily or periodic construction reports without spending an hour at the end of every day
If you’re still reading, you probably understand that keeping close track of your project’s daily progress is fundamental.
But spending an hour at the end of the day to complete your report? Nobody wants to do that.
Not to mention that recounting specific incidents, teams, delays, deliveries, or weather fluctuations can be difficult if you’re relying on your memory or scribbled notes. It’s no secret that construction daily reports are one of the biggest struggles for project managers, foremen, and superintendents.
Luckily, though, today’s technology means daily reports no longer require that much effort. With tools like ArchiSnapper, you can easily fill in a checklist, take photos, and use voice-to-text to create reports that are immediately available to everyone at your office. (Your logo, header, footer, and other branding and layout settings will be applied automatically.)
Using your tablet or phone on-site, this daily report app allows you to:
- Fill in the weather conditions
- Review checklists
- Write text – or use the voice-to-text functionality – for work done, materials used, etc.
- Take and annotate photos
- Ask the client to sign the report
- View the report in your cloud archive, along with the signed versions and distribution history
The best part is you don’t need to wait until the end of the day to fill out this information. You can create your report as you go; if you see a potential risk, for example, take a photo and note it in your report.
Then, when the day is over, all you’ll need to do is update the report and send it off. (No more typing out scribbled notes, transferring pictures from your phone to your PC, and struggling with the layout in Word!)
How to choose a daily reports app
Now that we’ve convinced you to get an app for your daily reports, here are five things you should look for:
Less is more. At first, it might be tempting to choose an app with a lot of features, fields, forms, and configuration.
But keep in mind that 90% of the time, you’ll only need 10% of your app’s core functionalities. You’ll need a quick and easy way to document simple data, together with photos.
Fewer buttons and functionalities means less risk for bugs, issues, and misunderstandings — and more adoption by your team, more standardization, and less frustration.
Sooner or later, you’ll be without a reliable internet connection. (Think: broken wifi, no 4G network, unpaid telecommunications invoices… or cement basements.)
So make sure your app works offline — and that you can at least capture new observations and photos without a connection.
You don’t want to lose all your daily reports if your phone gets stolen or breaks. So your software should have a web backend where your data is synced, and which allows multiple colleagues to access all the daily reports.
Though it probably goes without saying, your app should work on both your mobile device and computer.
We hear from a lot contractors who prefer to use their phone on-site (to take photos and add quick notes) and then finish the report online from their desktop.
Just a suggestion: Avoid buying a Windows device, since the software giant is no longer developing new features or hardware for Windows 10 mobile.
Though your app should be simple, it should also include these essential features:
- Capture notes by typing on your phone/tablet/desktop OR using voice-to-text
- Capture photos with annotations
- Draw and sketch on photos
- Capture signatures
- Auto-number items and reports
- Generate daily reports in PDF format with branding
- Email the PDF construction reports to all parties involved
- Automatically archive and backup data
- Export/import from other systems
- Use checklists
Best practices for creating daily construction reports
Whether you’re using an old-school notebook or a nifty new app, there are certain best practices you should follow for your daily construction reports:
- Provide sufficient detail: Too often, daily reports are drafted noting the date, the weather, and a broad description of the work being performed. This isn’t sufficient for properly communicating with other parties, or for disputes or court claims. Don’t forget that progress reports are supposed to document what happens on the project every day — and not only when problems arise.
- File reports as early as possible: Memories fade quickly. The shorter the time between events and notation, the more accurate the reports will be. By using an app, you’ll be able to document observations as soon as you make them.
- Report delays in detail: Record when activities get delayed or stopped, plus the reasons why (e.g. due to weather or an accident). Make sure you record each day of the delay; if you only note a delay’s start date, it’ll look like it only lasted one day.
- Get it signed: Getting construction site reports signed by a client, manager, or other responsible party increases their value. To preserve the integrity of the reporting, don’t make any changes once it’s signed.
- Use a checklist: Checklists reduce the risk of mistakes, increase the likelihood everything will get documented, and free up your mental RAM. So use your app’s checklist feature to make a list of what should be in each daily report.
- Keep it simple: Make sure your report is readable by using common language and including ample pictures. Don’t use specialist terms; just stick to a concise and clear description that anyone can understand.
How to use reports to improve your services
Just like in any other industry, one of the goals of reporting is to understand how your company or project is doing — and to use that information to boost future performance.
You might, for example, include manpower details — like trades and hours — into your daily report. Then, along with progress data, you could use this information to track the performance of your team.
By keeping daily records of work progress, you’ll gain clearer insight on ongoing projects as well as improve future processes.
Daily report example and template
Ready to see a construction daily report in action?
We created a simple checklist in ArchiSnapper that has an overview of the items to review:
Using this checklist, project managers, foremen, or superintendents can use their mobile device to create a comprehensive site report, even adding pictures and sketches, assignees, dates, PDF annotations, etc.
When they finish, the daily report could look like this:
Clean, simple, streamlined — and totally customizable to your project. There’s no fussing with layouts or trying to remember information from last week; it all lives right here in the app.
Whether you use an app, a notebook, or an Excel document, the important thing is to always create construction daily reports.
You’ll reduce risk, improve quality — and increase your bottom line.