Important Documents for
Commercial Construction Projects


  • Bidding Documents
  • Construction Contractor Agreement
  • Architectural Drawings
  • Specifications
  • Bill of Quantities
  • Schedules
  • Work Orders
  • Subcontractor Applications
  • Blanket Subcontract Agreement
  • Form W-9
  • Insurance Requirements/Certificate of Insurance
  • Daily Reports
  • Safety Reports
  • Workers Compensation Waiver
  • State Sales Tax Exempt Certificate

The daily life of any construction superintendent involves a lot of paperwork. While all that paperwork gets tedious quickly, daily reports and project documentation can keep you organized.

These documents cover every element of business operations, from inventory tracking, to supply chain, to team meetings. Documentation and the careful maintenance of all paperwork and documents help keep projects on schedule and disputes short.

Here are some of the most important construction documents for commercial projects:

1. Bidding Documents

Bidding documents are not legally binding, but they do give contractors a chance to assert their intentions and expectations early on in the process. Expectations, conditions, and terms pre-established in the bidding documents can influence how the final construction agreement is written, how weather and environmental factors are handled during the process of construction, and how subcontractors are hired.

Keeping track of all bidding documents can help ensure all parties stay true to the initially agreed upon conditions.

2. Construction Contractor Agreement

Once a bid has been accepted, general contractors must sign agreements before work begins. Construction contractor agreements cover the following:

  • The scope of the work to be done; this includes a description of the project
  • The general schedule/timeline of the project
  • Who will complete the work; contractor information
  • Who will pay for the completion of the work; commercial customer information
  • Provisions for weather and environmental delays and other contractor protections
  • Supplier details
  • Information on governing contract laws; insurance, claims processing, etc.

No work should be completed prior to the creation and signing of this document. The construction contractor agreement is the principal agreement between a contractor and a property owner.

Done correctly, construction agreements help companies avoid confusion, lawsuits, and worker mistreatment later down the line. Most future documents attach or refer to this document.

Not sure how to create a contractor agreement?

Check online; there are plenty of commercial construction contract templates available. One template can be found here.

Generally, all contractor agreements must include the following:

General Conditions

The General Conditions portion of the contract defines the obligations assigned to the contractor to complete the project. General conditions include establishing the paying party, determining when payments will be made, sourcing policies, where work will be performed, and deadlines.

The General Conditions are the legal framework for the contract, and should also include details referring to how disputes should be resolved.

Special Conditions

Special Conditions may or may not be necessary, but are often an extension of the terms stipulated in the general conditions section. Special conditions may be included if a certain portion of the project requires specific instructions that the rest of the project does not.

Scope of Work

The Scope of Work clearly states every element involved in the completion of the project. By laying out the entirety of the project, bidding is made easier, schedule estimates are more accurate, and the general conditions can be best tailored to suit the particulars of the project.

The scope of work will also include descriptions of the techniques to be used, material information, and details on who will be responsible for particular portions of the work. The scope of work section also helps to handle potential changes to methods, materials, or specs.

Cost Estimate

Included in the contractor agreement should be a cost estimate of soft and hard costs. This estimate can be broken down by area or presented in the form of a lump sum estimate.

Hard costs take up the majority of any project budget. Eating up nearly 70% of the average project, hard costs should be calculated in advance so there are no mysterious overheads putting you over budget. The hard cost budget estimate should include:

  • Expected site work required
  • Labor estimates
  • Landscaping pricing
  • Overhead costs
  • Contingencies

Soft costs typically can be covered by the remaining 30% of the allotted budget. Soft cost calculations include:

  • Inspection fees
  • Equipment
  • Inflation


All relevant licenses should be shared during the creation of a contract. Since projects can move very quickly, ensuring licenses are always up to date is important.

Contractors must complete educational programs, online exams, and license renewals throughout their career. Without the correct contractor license, customers should not sign an agreement.

A licensed contractor shows that they are qualified and able to complete a project. Hiring without a license runs you the risk of legal troubles, wasted money, incomplete or poorly completed projects, and other headaches down the road.

3. Architectural Drawings

You should also include in all documentation the drawings associated with the project. Drawings are a visual representation of the agreed upon final design, something tangible for contractor and customer to agree upon before the project begins.

Beyond keeping records of the general design of the project, you should maintain records that also describe the scope, extent, and aesthetics of the project to be completed.

4. Specifications

The specifications of a commercial construction contract detail the technical requirements of a particular project. This is the initial agreement of the specifics of the project, and any changes later will be handled under the Scope of Work section.

The specs section should include:

  • Common standards and best practice
  • Material requirements and acceptable material deviations
  • Testing and certifications required for project completion
  • Techniques and equipment expected to be used

5. Bill of Quantities

The Bill of Quantities includes documentation of all materials and tools needed for completion of the project. This can include an itemized list of tools, labor, material, and miscellaneous parts as well as pricing for every item.

This document helps contractors properly estimate the cost of the project and offer an accurate initial bid. This document also helps customers see a visual representation of where their money is going.

6. Schedule

A construction schedule will help keep the completion of the project on track and help manage timeline expectations right from the start. Construction schedules can include options to change or alter the schedule at a later date, as some commercial construction projects are delayed due to permit or licensing delays.

The schedule can also address what should be done in the event that the proper materials cannot be obtained in time.

The schedule should include a list of necessary components for completing the project, their relative start times, their relationship to other projects, and when each project should be completed by. The schedule can also be where licensing and building permit certifications are scheduled.

7. Work Orders

All work orders describing specific projects and work to be done should be saved. The maintenance of these documents will help keep projects on task, help ensure work is completed correctly, and act as extra evidence of the agreed upon terms.

Work orders include client and contractor information, order numbers, expected completion date, authorizing signatures, etc.

8. Subcontractor Application

Some commercial construction projects require the addition of third-party laborers in the form of subcontractors. Subcontractors may specialize in painting, masonry, electrical wiring, or any other number of specialized project positions.

Subcontractor applications let the hiring party know that the subcontractor is qualified. Subcontractor applications include:

  • Subcontractor information including licenses, safety officer, suppliers, etc.
  • Financial information
  • Project bidding; this will include price estimates for the job, material costs, overhead, etc.
  • Legal information

We wrote a detailed guide on managing subcontractors which you can read here.

9. Blanket Subcontract Agreement

A subcontractor agreement is similar to a construction contractor agreement. Subcontractors must be subject to the same terms as the primary contractor, and agreements should be tailored to the specific job required.

Subcontractors may be involved in the entirety of the project, or only a specific portion. The subcontract agreement should clearly state what elements of the project that the subcontractor is responsible for, the time in which it is to be completed, and all pertinent legal and financial details.

10. Form W-9

The most commonly used tax form, the W-9, describes the particulars of individual taxpayers. Construction companies should maintain accurate and up-to-date records of all employee W-9s.

W-9 forms include taxpayer identification information used in the calculation of social security and income tax payment. Without the appropriate W-9 information, your company will not be able to accurately file taxes.

11. Insurance Requirements/Certificate of Insurance

Insurance, and specifically liability insurance, is an absolute must for contractors. Maintaining documentation and records of insurance policies and certificates can help you stay out of legal trouble, understand all commercial construction requirements, help you protect your employees, and avoid being charged for accidental damage to a work site.

Insurance certifications should be kept on hand at all times to help settle possible damage or claims disputes.

Insurance will help pay for accidents and injuries associated with the job, accident and damage protection for the property, and protects against unfounded or unreasonable claims. Proof of insurance is also a method for proving to a customer that your construction company has the capital and economic backing to handle issues that may arise under the contract.

A contractor without insurance will likely be passed up in favor of a better-qualified company.

12. Daily Reports

Submitting daily reports helps contractors to keep track of the real-time progress of the project. These daily reports act as the only detailed account of the process of construction, and therefore can be invaluable should you need to go back and look at the process in the future.

Daily reporting helps to track where mistakes might have happened and demystify the many actions that had to be taken to achieve the desired end result. Daily reports should be completed at the end of every day, starting from the very beginning.

Daily reports in the planning process can help both contractor and customer track the agreements that have been made and the design elements that have been selected. Daily reports help to track progress, productivity, and performance during the building process; this can help improve management and organizational techniques to optimize productivity during construction.

Once the project is over, daily reports can help close the claim and wind down the final project. Daily reports also help management learn from every project and develop better methods for future contracts.

Holding onto records of daily reports up to 5 years after a project can help with future projects and handle post-project claims.

13. Safety Reports

Included in this set of documentation should be a safety checklist with policies and expectations for job site safety. Checklists should be shared with every member of your team, used every day, and kept as a way to measure trends in workplace safety, ensure compliance with certain standards, and help in the filing of accident claims should an accident or injury occur.

Sharing your safety checklist with your entire team will help remind workers of best practices, and keep every member of your team safer.

14. Workers Compensation Waiver

While all businesses must pay compensation to employees who have been injured or suffered an accident on the job. Contract workers typically sign a workers’ compensation waiver, which exempts them from qualifying for workers compensation.

This ensures the worker will not be able to sue in the event of an accident.

Essentially, a workers’ compensation waiver asserts that the independent contractor is their own employer, exempting the hiring company from all responsibilities associated with being an employer, including workers compensation. Maintaining and saving all workers compensation waivers will help you avoid legal trouble down the road.

15. State Sales Tax Exempt Certificate

Construction companies may not always collect the necessary sales tax after the completion of a project. In these cases, a State Sales Tax Exempt Certificate is necessary.

Sales tax exemptions are issued by purchasers in order to make tax-free purchases on services or items that ordinarily would be taxed. Tax-exempt certificates do not expire but must be maintained throughout the duration of sales being made.

Tax-exempt certificates are only necessary for the sale of products or services that are taxable by statute.

The proper maintenance and recording of appropriate documents is key to success for any commercial construction company. Record keeping helps to prevent disputes, keep work on schedule, and ensure all parties involved are protected.

Wrap Up

Interested in learning more about managing and maintaining your business? Contact us today by calling (866) 612-7312 to speak with our laboratory design specialists about an upcoming project involving lab benches, casework, or countertops.

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