What is a Time and Material Tag?
A Time & Material Tag is an industry-standard document that contractors use to authorize and document the amount of work spent on a certain task, typically work completed outside the current contract scope. The most common example would be a Subcontractor who is directed by a General Contractor to perform additional work outside the regular contract. The subcontractor proceeds with the work and documents the labor, material and equipment spent, using a paper Time and & Material Tag (also known as a T&M Tag). The General Contractor’s superintendent signs the Tag verifying the quantities shown accurately reflect the description of the work. Unlike Change Order Requests, T&M Tags simply keep track of quantities, while leaving the price adjustments to the project management team.
It is typically the project manager’s job to oversee the project contract and associated costs. In most companies, the job site crew is not allowed to approve or submit costs in the field. That’s why they use a Time & Material Tag to document the quantity of work performed without any associated costs attached. The T&M Tag process is designed to help both parties:
Why does my company call them something different?
We use the term Time and Material Tag because it is widely understood industry slang. But many companies have different names for these same documents. For example, we surveyed one General Contractor on a large construction project in San Jose, CA and here’s the list of different names for T&M Tags that were submitted by subcontractors:
- Extra work order
- Daily planning and report form
- Extra work authorization
- Daily rental or extra work report
- Service order
- Time and material tag
- Field work authorization
- Daily extra work report
- Day work report
- Work order
- Order for additional work
- Additional work authorization field report
- Time and materials extra work
- Change order request form
- Force account report
- Field work order
- Survey service record
Why are T&M Tags so important to keep construction projects moving?
What situations require the use of a Time and Material Tag?
Not every Time and Material Tag tracks the same thing. They are as unique as each Construction Project, but some common uses would be:
- Overtime hours
- Paint touch-up
- Trade damage
- Additional cleaning
- Concrete sack and patching
- Drywall patching
- Owner/Architect-directed changes
- Unforeseen conditions
Why do they seem to be hated documents?
What makes them so challenging
Even with Mobile Phones and Laptops in the field, Time and Materials Tags are still done primarily on triplicate carbon copy paper: One copy for the subcontractor, one copy for the General Contractor and one copy for the Jobsite.
Costs are applied to a Time & Material Tag in the form of an associated Change Order Request applying the project’s rates. Once the COR is created, it is emailed to the customer. Change Order Requests can sit awaiting approval from the Customer even though the work has already been done!
But this doesn’t even highlight some of the most time-losing pitfalls that can occur in the Time and Materials process:
Why they are important to Subcontractors
Why they are important to General Contractors
Why documentation is crucial for all parties
One of the biggest challenges with paper Time & Material Tags is that there is inevitably a delay in processing time. This means that Tags often do not get reviewed until weeks or months later. When Tags are submitted without a clear description, with poor handwriting or no photo documentation, it opens up questions to their legitimacy. Better documentation means faster approval for everyone.
Why a consistent process is critical
How Clearstory helps maintain organized and professional Time & Materials Tags
With Clearstory, we give you mobile tools to professionally document your work, making life easier for Subcontractors and General Contractors alike. From your mobile phone, you can quickly assemble a Time & Material Tag that efficiently documents every extra bit of work performed. At the press of a button, a clean PDF T&M Tag is created and instantly shared with the General Contractor. With our photo documentation tool, you can show the work completed with before-and-after pictures. Your work is documented in a way that gives the General Contractor the ability to clearly present any extra costs to the owner (or back charge another contractor if necessary).
Clearstory instantly recognizes these cost exposures and neatly logs them for both the Subcontractor and the General Contractor, drastically reducing financial surprises. Any additional costs are transparent for all parties to access and review instantly.
Clearstory: Fewer disputes, fewer headaches, fewer monetary bombshells.