Construction fraud: getting clued up on keeping your business safe

  • 23 Jul 2018

Construction fraud is not just about ensuring you get the fairest financial deal; it’s about keeping people safe. At whatever stage of the process – whether it’s on a building site or dealing with construction itself – the law is in place to protect everyone involved. Fraudsters might have the intention of taking your money, but the safety of people – and your reputation – are the collateral damage.

There have been several serious cases that have proven how important it is to know who is working on your building site and why they are working the way they are. Here’s how to keep your business safe against construction fraud.

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Paperwork 

If your paperwork is inaccurately filled in, then it can be near-impossible to trace an issue down the line. Invoices need to spell out a clear record of what was spent and how and receipts and certificates should be kept as accurate proof that the right materials were used by the right people.

Businesses can now invest in things such as printable deposit slips, which make it tougher to alter or duplicate paperwork and ensure that printed records are in line with those kept in accounting software.

Tracking transactions

Construction projects involve a lot of money changing hands and where there’s lots of money there’s lots of risk. The best way to combat the risk of theft or error is scrutiny. If you can keep track of your accounts and maintain a log of all expenses then you’ll quickly spot whether something is amiss. This isn’t about accusing people or creating an atmosphere of mistrust – it’s about establishing sound, robust foundations to work from.

Working with people you trust – and with a process that allows you to accurately monitor your money – should reduce this risk. It also allows you to keep on top of the costs of your project more generally.

Planning regulations

Construction projects require planning permission and this requires careful consideration. From outline approval to full permission, documents need to carefully spell out what is being built, where and how and this detail must be followed to the letter.

Constructing a building that does not meet regulations is classed as an unauthorised building and could be extremely dangerous. Any contractor who knowingly deviates from the plans to make or save money is committing a serious offence.

The key to tackling this is thorough project management – with key personnel responsible for checking work is being conducted as stated and that no-one attempts to ‘cut corners’ for financial or other reasons.

Qualifications and credentials

You should be diligent when hiring workers for any construction project. You need to make sure that they have the right qualifications and any worker who falsely purports to hold credentials that they don’t have to obtain work could well be committing a fraud.

A thorough vetting system, in which references are sought and checked, can guard against being caught out by this. It’s also important that you seek, maintain and update your businesses credentials so that you accurately portray your skills in the eye of potential clients.

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The key to many of these things is two-fold: the right people and the right process. The right people – in terms of project management to scrutinise a construction project and contractors with appropriate skills – and the right process in terms of a system to help those people to log, monitor and maintain an accurate record of the work carried out. Get that right and the risk of fraud will be vastly reduced.

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