Minute by Minute

As agonizing as detailed record keeping can be, it is the best way to manage and retain customer satisfaction, crews, your margins on the project and a host of other areas. From initiating a remodeling project to planning, execution and the control process, detailed record keeping is vital to a successful and profitable project.

Checklists can be one of the most powerful organizational tools you can use. They also can be one of your most effective time-management techniques. Make materials checklists and consider lead time required to have the materials you need on the jobsite when you need them. Consider available human resources and what your crew can realistically expect to complete in a given time frame. An ordering checklist can be kept to compare to packing or delivery tickets to determine whether the order is correct. The checklist should have a place to keep a record of any materials returned.

“To manage the schedule as the project progresses through phases, data from the planning phase is used to generate the schedule,” says David Peters, CR, CLC, from Callahan and Peters, Glenview, Ill. Peters recently achieved the NARI Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM) designation. CRPMs are field personnel who oversee each aspect of the project. “Accurate record keeping will mean the project manager updates and revises the schedule as problems arise and notes what caused the problems.” As unplanned events occur, like inclement weather or a scheduling conflict with a subcontractor, they add up. If a client demands to know why the project isn’t progressing on time, having detailed answers helps explain the process and keeps dissatisfaction under control.

“Quick journal entries made during the day are a good way to note what was accomplished; who visited the site; whether there were change orders made; and a multitude of data, like how the weather was that day and which subcontractors and which employees were on the site,” Peters advises.

Time cards are critical for job costing. The cards should show how much time was spent on each activity within the project and should contain detailed descriptions of the work done, times worked and any other required codes or details according to your business system.

Job-cost reports are a combination of timecard data, receipts for materials and expenses, credits for returned merchandise, subcontractor invoices, change orders and other categories. These reports should be regularly compared to the estimate to ensure costs are tracking to project budget.


Change orders often occur during the controlling phase and when performance evaluations are done. The project manager must ensure accurate and relevant data have been collected and directed to the right parties. If numerous deviations occur during project performance evaluation, it’s nearly impossible to identify which had the most impact without detailed records. Every remodel presents itself with an opportunity for process improvement, so it’s important to have the data at hand to understand the areas that can be made more cost-effective and efficient or to avoid future problems.


Accurate records also are essential when it is time to file your taxes. The records help prepare financial statements for your bank, creditors or accountant. Follow these three tax tips concerning record keeping:

  • • Select a T&E record-keeping method you’ll always use. Choose a format that will allow you to record all necessary information to back up any travel and entertainment deductions.
  • • Note your car’s odometer. If you use your personal car for business travel, you need to record your business mileage for each trip so you have the option to claim deductions based on the IRS standard mileage rate or your actual auto expenses.
  • • Adopt a storage system for receipts. In addition to noting the dollar amount of income and expenses, you also need supporting documents, like canceled checks, deposit slips, invoices, paid bills and sales slips.
  • Record keeping is an integral part of any remodeling project manager’s responsibilities. It is addressed throughout NARI’s CRPM Prep Course. The next CRPM virtual study group date is March 20. Call Cindy Foley for enrollment information at (847) 298-9200 or email info@nari.org.

Gwen Biasi is director of marketing and communications for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, Des Plaines, Ill.