Establishing a Records Retention Policy


Having accurate, detailed, and well-maintained project records can help keep design firms out of liability trouble while also helping them manage their profitability. Your firm should determine what it considers to be “permanent” project records or “temporary” documents.


record retentions policy

Permanent documents can include interim documents that are provided as milestone submittals or contract deliverables, “final” documents, as well as all project correspondence both sent and received, handwritten telephone memoranda or site visit notes are “final” if they are not superseded by typed versions. Permanent documents also include all project correspondence, meeting memoranda and minutes,
internal memoranda, logs, journals, and calendars.

An effective records retention policy should be in writing and should identify records by category; describe the length of time for retention;
designate the method of storage and destruction; and establish a protocol for determining if documents not easily categorized should be retained or purged.

In most states, there is a statute of repose that cuts off the rights of clients and third parties to bring legal action after a reasonable number of years, usually measured from the date of substantial completion of the project. If a firm practices in many states, it must be aware of other statutes of repose or other limitations on the rights of injured parties to bring claims against design professionals. Keeping project records for one year past the longest applicable statute of repose is prudent.

You should always consult your attorney in regard to the length of time records should be retained or reach out to your Professional Underwriters agent for additional information.



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