What records must I keep to document the construction of my homebuilt aircraft?
Answer: There is no "standard" or "official" form for the builder records (commonly known as the "builder’s log"). The records can be in any form the builder chooses. Our experience has shown that a three ring binder with some loose-leaf pages and some pocket pages (for pictures) works very well. Some builders use a spiral bound notebook, which also works well. Some builders even use their computer and keep all the records electronically. This is acceptable, so long as the records can be made available to the inspector at the time of the final inspection and can be printed out if necessary.
The only requirement is that you do indeed keep records of the construction of the aircraft. The FAA only considers the tasks a builder completes, not the time spent building, so your builder records should record the tasks you accomplish. However, while it’s not required for certification of your homebuilt, you may still wish to track the time spent building, as this experience can later be applied toward the field experience required for an A&P mechanic certificate. Any commercial assistance you pay for should be documented in your builder’s log and made available to the FAA inspector upon request.
You can use the FAA's own checklist as part of your builder records, to record which tasks you complete. This checklist is entitled Amateur-Built Fabrication and Assembly Checklist 2009. It can be found in FAA advisory circular, AC 20-27G. You can find these advisory circulars on the FAA's amateur-built website.
FAA guidance (FAA Order 8130.2F, Chg. 4) recommends that pictures be included in your builder records. Lots of pictures are a plus, especially pictures showing you actually working on the project. The purpose of the builder records is to verify that amateur builders did indeed build the aircraft, so the FAA inspector or Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) appreciates pictures of the amateur builders actually working on the project.
Is there any builders log computer software available?
Yes, Kitlog Pro is a builder’s log software that allows you keep digital photos along with your daily entries. Obviously, you will need to back up your electronic files or keep print outs in case your computer malfunctions.