What are as-built drawings?
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 can also be called 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 be quite helpful in helping note the changes as well, because they are quite familiar with the changes that they needed to make during the entire process.
Careful detailed notes should be kept during the construction, because they will be useful as the as-built drawings are being completed. Without these notes, it is possible for certain items to be missed, which can be detrimental in the future. Thankfully, technology has made it possible for changes to be noted immediately, as they are being done, so that a lot of the work is already done before the project is finished. This technology ensures that nothing minor or major is missed, which means that the as-built drawings are as effective as they should be.
Nothing is too little to be noted on an as-built drawing, but the items that we prefer to put on them include the following:
- Utilizing clear descriptions instead of a vague phrase
- 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
There are many other notations that we place on our as-built drawings, as we prefer to have as much information as possible on there. We feel that if we were to leave one small detail out, it could mean the difference between a successful renovation and a bad one. Plus, by including everything, owners can use the information at any given time, no matter what they are trying to do.
Once these drawings have been completed, they can be used to decide if future additions or system changes can be completed easily. Any renovations will be easier to complete with these drawings, as all the information will be accurate, up-to-date, and known. The Operations and Maintenance staff can also utilize 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 do not know the intricacies of what they will 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 facing.
As for the contractors, they would be more prepared to give an even more accurate bid, instead of stating that it would be a certain amount barring any problems or issues. Plus, contractors would be ready for the scenarios that they faced and have the solutions ready to implement, instead of creating solutions in a matter of seconds or minutes.
Of course, as-built drawings are only good if they are kept up to date. That means that the owner needs to have them updated each time that they have work done on the building or they will be rendered useless after a while. 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 then they would if they weren’t.
The days of missing as-built drawings should be over, especially with the new technological advances that are available. Instead of having thousands of sheets of paper with changes marked on them, contractors, architects, and owners can utilize technology to make those changes as they occur, essentially saving time and money. A final printout can be done at the end of each project, so that the as-built drawings are as accurate as they need to be in the future.