The 8 Documents Every Construction Project Needs


Having documents in order helps protect the contractor from problems that might arise.

Having the right documentation when performing a construction project is important to provide legal protection for both the contractor and client. For contractors who are already licensed, advance planning can make relicensure easier. Learn by reading further about the documents that are essential for every contractor. Just as being prepared is important, choosing preapproved continuing education contractor classes to avoid a last minute scramble can make a big difference.

Contract Agreements

Contract agreements between the contractor and client should include a description of the project, price and how payments will be made, the scope of the project and scheduling. It should also include information on the governing contract laws, such as lien requirements and insurance, a document list and responsibilities and conditions for both the contractor and owner on items such as processing claims and resolving disputes.


Surety bonds help guarantee the project will be completed and helps a contractor having to avoid the outlay of a large cash deposit. They also help smaller contractors get work when they might not be qualified otherwise. Contractors can obtain surety bonds from surety companies or from the Small Business Administration at a reasonable rate when a government contract is involved.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is a must for contractors, so ensure that your insurance is paid up-to-date. It’s a contractor’s best protection against injuries, accidents, product claims, outlays for property damage and copyright infringement. Without proof of liability insurance, a contractor is likely to miss out on a job.


A well-prepared contract and accurate estimates are two of the documents a contractor requires for a project.

Detailed Estimates of Hard and Soft Costs

Hard costs generally represent about 70 percent of the cost of the project, with soft costs taking up the remaining 30 percent. These calculations are an important part of the documents a contractor needs for each project. In the hard cost estimate, include the site work and structure, including labor, landscaping, overhead, change orders and contingencies for new or remodeling projects. There are a number of free calculators online for contractors to help with estimations, so there is no excuse for an inaccurate or incomplete estimate. Remember to add soft costs, which can include things like inspection fees, office equipment, and inflation.

List of Materials and Trades Needed

A list of all materials needed for the project, along with quantities and prices is necessary, as well as the types and number of workers needed to complete the job. For example, a contractor will want to include the number of framers, plumbers, and electricians needed to keep on schedule and complete the job.

Construction Schedule

This all-important document helps keep a project on track for completion. The bar chart for a contractor’s construction schedule should include activities and their relationship, duration with start and finish times, assessment of resources and issuance of building permits. While some contractors use an Excel chart to make the schedule, templates are available on the internet for free or at a low cost to make drawing up the construction schedule simpler.


These important papers show how the project is designed and built along with the changes that were made along the way. Transfer the record or As-Built drawings to final drawings to show changes in design, modifications and field changes.

Up-to-Date Contractor License

When gathering important documents together, a contractor should never forget to carry a copy of his or her contractor’s license. Since time goes by quickly, especially during a long-term project, ensuring that the license is up-to-date is important. Studying for continuing education exams online or through correspondence lets you renew your license quickly and easily.

Contractor Classes

PDH Contractor Academy offers online and correspondence courses for different states that have been preapproved by their respective licensing boards. Offered in individual courses or as cost-saving bundles, a contractor can complete educational requirements from any place and at any time that it is convenient. Browse courses by state to learn more.


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