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As-built drawings are sometimes undervalued in construction projects, but they are crucial for documenting the precise details of the construction process. In any construction project, there are potentially hundreds of site tasks, plans and project documents to handle. Although the importance of as-builts can sometimes be overlooked, neglecting them can impact the project’s lifecycle management after construction.  

Despite their importance, as-built drawings are sometimes neglected until the project’s final stages, leading to a less accurate representation of the finished product. Failure to document changes made throughout the construction process can compromise the integrity and reliability of these plans. 

Key takeaways 

  • As-built drawings are documents that make it easy to compare and contrast between designed and final specifications. 
  • Final as-built drawings include all changes made throughout the construction project. 
  • Architects or designers have a hand in creating as-built drawings, but the person in charge may vary in-house or when working with external parties. 
  • An as-built plan offers four important benefits, like improving onboarding, assisting the facilities team, streamlining the permitting process, and improving the renovation process. 
  • As-built drawings are often missing important details that could delay or halt projects, but good as-built drawings may improve a contractor or subcontractor’s reputation 
  • Using mobile technology helps improve field records and as-built drawings. 

What is a construction “as-built drawing”?  

An “as-built drawing” is a detailed set of drawings that reflects the final constructed conditions of a building, infrastructure, or other construction project. These drawings are created after the completion of construction or renovation, and they document any modifications, deviations, or changes made during the construction process compared to the original plans or blueprints. 

As-built drawings are essential for various reasons: 

  • Record keeping: They serve as a permanent record of the actual construction, capturing any alterations made during the building process. 
  • Future reference: These drawings provide valuable reference material for maintenance, repairs, renovations, or future expansion of the structure. 
  • Compliance and certification: They are often required for regulatory compliance and certification purposes to ensure that the final construction meets all relevant codes, standards, and specifications. 
  • Communication: As-built drawings help communicate the final layout and configurations to stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and clients. 

Typically, as-built drawings include detailed information such as exact dimensions, locations of structural elements, electrical and plumbing systems, and any other relevant features or modifications made during construction. They are an essential part of the construction documentation process, ensuring accuracy and accountability in the built environment. 

Who creates as-built drawings? 

As-built drawings for construction projects are typically created by a team of professionals involved in the construction process, including architects, engineers, contractors, and sometimes specialized surveyors or drafters. These individuals work collaboratively to accurately document the final constructed conditions of the project. Depending on the project’s complexity and scope, different specialists may be responsible for creating specific portions of the as-built drawings. 

Architects often contribute by updating the original design plans to reflect any changes or modifications made during construction. Engineers play a crucial role in documenting structural elements, mechanical systems, and electrical components. Contractors provide input based on their on-site observations and knowledge of the construction process, ensuring that all alterations and deviations are accurately captured. 

In some cases, specialized surveyors may be brought in to conduct site surveys and measurements to verify the accuracy of the as-built drawings. Drafters or CAD technicians are responsible for translating the information gathered by the team into detailed and precise drawings that can be used for reference and future maintenance. 

Why are as-built drawings important? 

While submitting as-built drawings is not necessarily a must on every job, it’s a helpful component to any completed project, and if completed correctly, reflects well on your company’s professional image. As-builts, in other words, ensure that when designers, architects and subcontractors move on from the project and, a resource still exists beyond the original design plans.  

As-built drawings are crucial in construction projects for several reasons: 

  • Accurate documentation: They provide an accurate record of the final constructed conditions of the project, capturing any changes, modifications, or deviations from the original plans. This documentation is essential for future reference and maintenance. 
  • Compliance and certification: As-built drawings are often required for regulatory compliance and certification purposes to ensure that the completed construction meets all relevant codes, standards, and specifications. 
  • Reference for maintenance and repairs: They serve as valuable reference material for maintenance, repairs, and renovations after the construction is complete. Having detailed documentation of the structure’s layout, systems, and components helps streamline future work and reduces the risk of errors. 
  • Communication: As-built drawings facilitate communication among stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and clients. They provide a clear visual representation of the final product and any changes made during the construction process. 
  • Project accountability: As-built drawings help hold parties accountable for their work by documenting the actual construction compared to the initial plans. They can be used to resolve disputes and ensure that the project meets quality and contractual requirements. 

As-built drawings play a crucial role in ensuring the accuracy, compliance, and longevity of construction projects, making them an indispensable part of the construction documentation process. 

What needs to be included in as-built drawings? 

The content included in as-built drawings for construction projects typically encompasses several key elements: 

  • Actual layout and dimensions: Accurate measurements and dimensions of all structural elements, including walls, columns, beams, and floors, reflecting the final constructed conditions. 
  • Location of utilities and services: Clear documentation of the placement and routing of electrical, plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and other utility systems within the structure. 
  • Changes and modifications: Detailed records of any changes or modifications made during the construction process compared to the original plans, including annotations explaining the alterations. 
  • Materials and finishes: Specifications of materials used in construction, such as types of flooring, wall finishes, and other surface treatments, to ensure consistency and facilitate future maintenance. 
  • Structural details: Drawings depicting structural details, connections, and reinforcements to ensure compliance with building codes and standards. 
  • Equipment and fixtures: Locations and specifications of installed equipment, fixtures, and fittings, such as sinks, light fixtures, and mechanical systems. 

Different build site teams and personnel utilize as-built drawings throughout the lifecycle of a construction project in a range of ways: 

  • Construction crews: During the construction phase, on-site teams use as-built drawings to ensure that the constructed elements match the intended design, guiding them in the installation and placement of materials, systems, and equipment accurately. 
  • Project managers: Project managers utilize as-built drawings to track progress, verify compliance with specifications, and manage changes or deviations from the original plans. These drawings serve as a reference for decision-making and coordination among various teams. 
  • Inspectors and regulators: Inspectors and regulatory authorities rely on as-built drawings to verify compliance with building codes, safety standards, and permit requirements. These drawings provide essential documentation during inspections and audits. 
  • Maintenance and facility management: After construction is complete, facility managers and maintenance teams use as-built drawings as a reference for ongoing maintenance, repairs, and renovations. They help identify the location of utilities, access points, and structural elements, streamlining maintenance activities and ensuring efficient operations. 
  • Architects and engineers: Design professionals may refer to as-built drawings for future renovation or expansion projects, using them to understand the existing conditions of the structure and incorporate them into new designs. 

Overall, as-built drawings serve as a valuable resource for various stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of a construction project, facilitating communication, ensuring compliance, and supporting ongoing maintenance and operations. 

5 ways to maximise your team’s as-built capabilities 

Maximizing a team’s capabilities in producing high-quality as-built drawings is essential for ensuring accurate documentation of construction projects. By implementing these strategies, teams can ensure that their as-built drawings accurately capture the final constructed conditions of the project, facilitating effective communication, decision-making, and management throughout its lifecycle: 

  1. Highlight the significance of accuracy from the start of a project

Establishing a mindset where high-quality as-builts are prioritized from the project’s inception is crucial. This involves recognizing the significance of accurate documentation and emphasizing its importance to all team members, from architects to contractors. By instilling this mindset early on, teams are more likely to allocate sufficient time, resources, and attention to creating comprehensive and precise as-built drawings throughout the construction process. 

  1. Define clear quality guidelines for as-built drawings pre-construction

Setting up clear quality standards for as-builts before construction begins is paramount. This involves defining specific criteria and guidelines for what constitutes a high-quality as-built drawing, including accuracy, completeness, clarity, and consistency. By establishing these standards upfront, teams can ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of expectations, thereby minimizing errors and discrepancies during the documentation process. 

  1. Use data-driven methods to discover valuable insights in your as-built documentation

Leveraging data-driven insights can enhance the depth and accuracy of as-built drawings. This entails collecting and analyzing relevant data throughout the construction process, such as measurements, material specifications, and equipment details. By harnessing data analytics tools and techniques, teams can uncover valuable insights that inform the creation of more detailed and comprehensive as-built drawings, resulting in a more accurate representation of the final constructed conditions. 

  1. Cultivate living as-built documents for continuous updates

Adopting the concept of “living” as-built drawings can improve their utility and relevance beyond the construction phase. Instead of treating as-builts as static documents, teams can continuously update and maintain them throughout the lifecycle of the project. This involves incorporating mechanisms for capturing and documenting changes, modifications, and updates in real-time, ensuring that the drawings remain current and reflective of the actual conditions of the structure over time. 

  1. Augment as-built documentation with visual verification through photos

Including photo evidence alongside as-built drawings can provide additional context and clarity. Photos serve as visual documentation of the actual construction progress, allowing stakeholders to visually verify and validate the information presented in the drawings. By integrating photo evidence into as-built documentation, teams can enhance transparency, accuracy, and comprehension, thereby facilitating better decision-making and communication among all parties involved in the project. 

Maximizing your as-built potential: Key takeaways 

As-built drawings serve as a cornerstone of construction projects, providing a comprehensive record of the final constructed conditions. These drawings not only document the intricate details of the built environment but also serve as a roadmap for future work.  

By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, construction teams can enhance their proficiency in creating and utilizing as-built drawings. Prioritizing high-quality documentation, establishing clear standards, leveraging data-driven insights, embracing dynamic practices, and incorporating visual evidence enable teams to maximize the utility and accuracy of their as-built documentation. This, in turn, cultivates a collaborative environment where stakeholders can effectively communicate, make informed decisions, and drive project success. 

As-built drawings are more than just static records; they are dynamic tools that empower construction teams to navigate the complexities of their projects with precision and foresight. By optimizing their as-built capabilities through strategic practices, construction teams can streamline workflows, mitigate risks, and achieve greater efficiency and success in their projects. 

Get started with digitizing you as-build drawing plans across your entire building lifecycle – book a free PlanRadar product demo to find out more.