As-Built Drawings 101: What you should keep in mind

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What are as-built drawings?

As-built drawings are revised sets of drawings submitted by a contractor upon the completion of a particular job. They reflect all the changes made during the construction process.”

As-built drawings are a very important component of a construction project. They serve as copies or recreations of how the project is constructed, and pinpoint all changes made as it is being built.

Construction projects, regardless of their size, go through multiple modifications, adjustments, and changes before their completion. It doesn’t matter how minor the alterations are, as-built drawings envision the modifications being made and help anticipate and forecast its effect to the final building result.

The major purpose of an as-built drawing is to record any modification made during the building process that deviates from the original design.

The drawings that are first completed for a planned construction project are not the ones that are needed once the project is finished.  Instead, the contractor needs to submit the as-built drawings. Those drawings are the revised version, which includes every change that was made in the specifications, the exact dimensions, the location of all the elements, and any extra work. As-built drawings are also referred to as record drawings.

The as-built drawings are normally completed by the architect or designer of the building because they are familiar with the original specifications and can record the changes properly. Of course, the contractor and subcontractors can also add to the changes, as they are familiar with the project and the alterations that are needed in the course of the entire construction process.

Keeping a detailed track of all the notes and documents generated during the building process should be a priority as it can contribute to the creation of the as-built drawings. Without these notes, it is possible for certain items to be missed, which can be detrimental in the future.

Read more: Construction reports and reporting: An in-depth guide

Thankfully, construction technology and software have made it possible for changes to be noted immediately, as they are being done so that a lot of the work is already completed before the project is finished. This technology ensures that nothing minor or major is missed. Like that, as-built drawings are as effective as they should be.

You can store construction drawings and plans using LetsBuild. You can also store different versions of plans, which can be very useful for as-builts.

Recording as-built drawings

Nothing is too little to be noted on as-built drawings, but the items that we prefer to put on them include the following:

  • Clear descriptions instead of vague phrases.
  • All changes in materials used, locations, sizing, and more.
  • We try not to change the scale of the drawings, but if it is necessary, we note those changes accordingly.
  • Location of all utilities including depth and the materials of each.
  • All unexpected obstructions and the solutions used.
  • All the dates when the changes were made.
  • All changes that were made after the final inspection.
  • We never omit original values. Instead, we cross them out and simply add the new information
  • We also include all shop drawings and appendices for future use

It is recommended to have as much information as possible on as-built drawings. Leaving one small detail out, it could eventually make the difference between a successful renovation and a bad one. Plus, by including everything, owners can always go back and effortlessly retrieve this data.

Once the drawings have been completed, they can be used as a basis for future additions or system changes. Any renovations will be easier to complete with these drawings, as all the information will be accurate, up-to-date, and shared with everyone in the project. The Operations and Maintenance staff can also utilise the as-built drawings to know where shut off valves are located or where other items are in case of an emergency.

It can be frustrating for current and new owners, as well as contractors, to do work on a building that has no as-built drawings, because they don’t know the intricacies that they might encounter. Imagine attempting to renovate a room, update the heating or cooling system, or create an addition without knowing where the utilities are or what issues might be lurking behind the walls.

No as-built drawings may mean that new owners, or even existing owners, need to pay more for the work that they need to have completed. They may have avoided that extra cost, or been more prepared for it if they had the drawings that showed what they were about to face.

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As for the contractors, they would be more prepared to give accurate bids instead of cost estimations which could in the end lead them to negative margins due to the rise of issues that weren’t predicted on time. In that way, contractors would be able to deal with any problematic situations before they even emerge. Simply put, better preparation means higher budget savings and lower rework rates.

Of course, as-built drawings are only as good as the information included in them. That being said, they should always be kept up to date. Each time a new task is completed, the owner should update them in detail. Otherwise, they will soon end up being useless or even a threat to the success of the project.

It will cost money to have the as-built drawings updated with every change, but the owners will find that they are saving more money from having them updated than they would if they weren’t.

To sum it up

The days of missing as-built drawings have come to an end, especially with the new digital solutions that are available. Instead of having thousands of sheets of paper with changes marked on them, contractors, architects, and owners can utilise construction or blueprint software to make those changes as they occur.

As-built drawings can now be edited on mobile devices, making everything easier while essentially saving time and money. Switching to a digital platform eliminates all the hassles of paper drawings and documentation, and ultimately improves your overall construction productivity. At LetsBuild, we can help you with efficiently storing and editing your as-builts.

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Topics: Digital construction
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