4specs.com    4specs.com Home Page

What to keep? Log Out | Topics | Search
Moderators | Register | Edit Profile

4specs Discussion Forum » Archive - Specifications Discussions #2 » What to keep? « Previous Next »

Author Message
David Axt, AIA, CCS, CSI
Senior Member
Username: david_axt

Post Number: 455
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 09:40 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Is there a general rule of thumb for what stuff to keep and what to toss? I am always afraid that as soon as I toss something that I will need it. Of course the paperwork I toss will save the owner and architect thousands of dollars, but now it is in the landfill.

Should I keep marked out redlines from project architects as a CYA technique? If so, how long should I keep it?

What about product literature? When does it spoil?

How about project notes and so forth?
Margaret G. Chewning CSI CCS
Senior Member
Username: presbspec

Post Number: 52
Registered: 01-2003
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 - 10:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Having a one person/one room office I often feel like I'm drowning in paper. And any archives I keep go to the attic, which is unfortunately not easy to reach. I'm just waiting for the rafters to start sagging.
I doubted I or my clients would ever need that stuff again, but I just had a job come up that is a duplicate (next phase) of one from a couple of years ago... so you never know...
Does any one have a good guideline that will help?
Mark Gilligan SE, CSI
Username: markgilligan

Post Number: 3
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 01:14 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

There is a statute of repose that varies from state to state but is often about 10 years. After this time it becomes more difficult to sue the designers. During this time you should keep all correspondence and final work product After this period most firms will throw out most if not all documentation.

You will probably have a SD & DD set of documents for your use. These along with the redlines from project architects are primarily useful for CYA. Consider throwing most of these out when the contractor has been selected. In any case throw all of this CYA stuff out at the end of CA. Most CYA has to do with issues that are irrelevant after CA. If there is something funny going on you should already have a memo on in the project files.

You may find you are at less risk if there are fewer files. For example you can almost always find some flaws in the structural calculations if you want to search long enough. On the other hand, if you only have the drawings, you can often show that the structure is adequate based on what is actually there. This is why some firms throw out the calculations with the other documentation and only keep a set of drawings and specifications along with the contract.

The secret is to have a written policy and to follow it consistently. Check with your attorney and or E&O insurance firm for guidance.
William C. Pegues, FCSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: wpegues

Post Number: 394
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 11:16 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Mark has a good point - and also, this will vary as to whether you are an independent or an internal specifier.

As an internal specifier, what we keep and toss is part of the overall office policy about what is kept and tossed. And yes, after it was created, we had a legal review.

For us, what we do is keep everything that is given to the specifier for a specific project, print out emails as appropriate (not everything, just project design/systems information) markups, etc. until the project is completed in construction - and a bit more. Typically about 6 months after project completion we know if there are going to be issues. At that point, in specifications we toss out everything EXCEPT the 'originals' of the project manual, and we keep the originals for all consultants. Those go into long term storage, typically off site, which every 5 to 10 years we review what is there and cull further.

Electronically, I keep everything actively filed. I started archiving projects off to CDs, but nowdays hard drive space is so huge I have everything on hand back to the early 1990s when we migrated from floppies to storing on hard drives. Some of those need to be converted to be opened, but, they are still there. I never stored the floppy file projects to hard drive and over time they have 'evaporated'.

Helaine K. Robinson CCS
Senior Member
Username: hollyrob

Post Number: 150
Registered: 07-2003
Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

My office likes to bring clients through on tours, so we sporadically have Clean-Up Clean-Up fits where important people come back here and ask if I really need all of those books/papers/magazines....
Wayne Yancey
Senior Member
Username: wyancey

Post Number: 13
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 - 03:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


Product data (manufacturers catalogues) have a best before shelf life. The shelf life is determined by the stability (or turn over) of the sales reps, freqency of updates (recorded in the front of the binder), frequency of use by design teams. Binders that are candidates for a purge are those with received stamps or last update stamps 5 years and older, have experienced unusual turn over of rep, or currently do not have a rep. At my previous employer and at my current employer, shelf space is at a premium. We quickly eliminated products that we never used due to the type of projects we did and currently do. At CW, residential products were a first cut, and so on. If we had a need for a purged product, it is available in the internet.

Some product data was retained for legacy purposes. Although not product data, legacy building codes were retained.


Topics | Last Day | Last Week | Tree View | Search | Help/Instructions | Program Credits Administration