Artificial intelligence is often touted as a gamechanger for construction processes, and Document Crunch, a company co-founded by a longtime construction attorney, is already changing up one key area: construction contracts.

For years, Josh Levy pored over contracts as in-house counsel for contractors JE Dunn and Wood. He knew the process was time-consuming but also integral to the very thing that gives contractors their name: contracts. Levy co-founded Document Crunch in 2019. The company’s AI can process construction documents and flag areas of possible legal concern. Document Crunch secured $9 million in series A funding in February.

“It’s a tedious process [that] requires a lot of time, effort and expertise,” says Levy who now serves as Document Crunch’s CEO. “There’s a lot of risk in the contracting process. Five years ago, there were two classes in construction. You had the really big class who have robust risk management and legal departments, and they wrap their arms around that contracting process, but they are still working in an industry where margins are not getting fatter.”

Levy says the other class is that vast majority who under-invest in their legal review, such as mid-sized companies that do not have senior legal professionals like Levy reading documents every single day.


An AI for Contracts

Document Crunch’s machine-learning platform uses construction contract-specific models and generative AI using frontier models from OpenAI and Anthropic, and a purpose-built retrieval architecture designed to deliver answers to complex contractor questions. It has recently added a chat feature to let its users—often in-house counsels—ask questions about specific projects.

Balfour Beatty uses its in-house counsel as a right hand to the executive staff and not a replacement for superintendents and project managers performing their own reviews of internal and external documents, including owner contracts, explains Jeff Brannen, chief legal officer of Balfour Beatty’s Texas division. “We prefer that the project teams themselves take some ownership of the documents and the contracts themselves. They’re not lawyers, they don’t know everything that I know when I’m looking at an owner agreement.” The contractor started examining the potential of Document Crunch back in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of unplanned reviews of project documents to address issues around delays and site closures. Balfour Beatty has been a user ever since.


Image courtesy Document Crunch

“The advantage that Document Crunch brings us is it lets an AI come in there and help [our project managers] identify the things they’re looking for,” Brannen says. “If it’s a new team, or if someone particularly new to contract review comes in and looks at a contract, I now know where—in a lot of our contracts—to immediately go to look for the things that I care about,” he says.

ELECTRI International, the outreach arm of the National Electrical Contractors Association, is using Document Crunch to educate its members in a general sense about how to interpret contracts.

“Our contractors have used it to make sure they’re reading, reviewing and finding the most fair language [in their contracts],” says Josh Bone, ELECTRI executive director. “We’re trying to use power in numbers to help the industry sign fair contract language.”