As-Built Drawings 101: All You Need to Know

As-built plans are an essential component of construction documentation, especially in terms of post-construction management. Even so, many contractors prefer dealing with construction as-builts at the very end of the development process, if at all. Learn why doing so is risky, why as-built documentationis important, and how to make as-built drawings work for you.

What Are As-Builts?

As an Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) professional, you surely know what as-builts are.

Based on the BusinessDictionary definition,as-built drawings are a revised set of construction plans reflecting all the changes made during the completion of a project. They show the exact measurements and positions for all of the adjustments made to the original plans during construction for the building and surrounding land.

The primary reason for creating these documents is to provide a detailed overview of the actual state of every installation to enable its safe and efficient management.

Why as-built documentation is important

AEC experts know that not a single project has ever been completed exactly as it was planned. There always are adjustments to be made, especially in terms of connecting the new structure to the underground infrastructure. Other reasons for initial design updates might include a redesign after an ownership change or a change in the building’s use. Having an as-built construction plan helps minimize the expense of the facility’s architectural evaluation during a renovation.

In many cases, the expertise behind a project is lost soon after the completion. Companies undergo mergers and acquisitions, people switch jobs, and long-term employees retire. Thus, having a record of all the changes made during construction provides an invaluable tool for the facilities team that performs maintenance on the building.

This is especially true regarding the operations of systems concealed within the walls. Knowing the exact location of a module, pipe, or wire is essential for quick repairs with minimum costs, performing maintenance without disrupting normal operations more than necessary, or endangering the structural integrity of the building.

There are two important aspects that you should keep in mind about as-builts:

  • They are required for many government-issued and enterprise-grade construction projects.
  • They show your clients that you are a responsible and trustworthy developer. By having detailed as-built drawings in place, you demonstrate that you care what happens to the building after construction is complete.

Redlining every change and update to the original construction plans is tedious, time-consuming, and requires a lot of work. You need to update all the plans and designs simultaneously for all the project stakeholders, meaning the immense increase in workload.

Even so, it’s essential to do this at every stage of construction, rather than to try to remember every change and adjustment at the end of the project.

First drawing

Let’s take a look at what you should pay attention to while preparing as-built plans.

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What has to be included in as-built plans

There are several important considerations to keep in mind:

  • All blueprint changes must precisely depict the real-world adjustments made, with a legend of reasons for each.
  • The scale must be consistent throughout the whole set of drawings.
  • As-builts must reflect every update in construction materials, component locations, equipment installation (windows, doors, HVAC, power cables, water, heating, sewers, and more), and module fabrication.
  • If any unforeseen complication had appeared, as-built drawings must cover why it had occurred and how it had been addressed.
  • A precise timeline of all changes must be kept to ensure consistency of records for all the project stakeholder teams.
  • If the final inspection results in some adjustments, they also have to be included within as-builts along with all the appendices and shop drawings.
First drawing

With the key aspects of the as-built drawings procedure covered, we will now show the main components of such plans.

Components of as-built drawings

While a pencil, eraser, and a ton of handwriting used to be required to produce a complete set of as-built plans, modern technology provides much more convenient tools.

  • Point cloud data. Laser scanning measures the location and distance between millions of points in a 360-degree space. This raw data can then be processed by specific software and automatically transformed into sets of drawings for your team to use.

    Comparing point cloud data with as-designed elements helps produce precise as-built plans. Specialized software like VERITY allows performing 100% solid-to-solid element comparison in the time it currently takes to spot-check 5% of them. It correlates the design elements with point cloud data and highlights them in red, green, or yellow. The elements highlighted in red are the discrepancies between the real-life objects and models, which should be inspected on the construction site.

    This approach results in reduced risk or costly errors, more accurate as-built documentation, and fewer construction schedule delays.

  • BIM modeling. By consolidating project updates within a centralized system, BIM creates interactive 3D models and drawings that are consistent for all the project stakeholders. This enables AEC specialists to speed up the design and development of buildings, reduces costs, and minimizes the number of mistakes made.
  • Connected data . Storing important blueprints in a briefcase or a safe just doesn't cut it in the 21st century. To be cost-efficient and competitive, the developer must employ a connected system, where all measurements done by mobile devices are immediately reflected and retained in cloud-based data storage banks.

Using the latest technology ensures that no important data falls through the cracks. It also guarantees that all adjustments propagate through all the drawings immediately. This way, all construction project stakeholders have access to the latest and most accurate representation of the drawings at all times.

But how to do as-built drawing correctly?

How to Do As-Built Drawings Right

A procedure must be outlined in advance to ensure as-built plans are prepared consistently, seamlessly, and cost-effectively. It should cover all as-built drawings requirements and detail the process of recording every change made in the field or the drawing shop.

This is impossible to do without introducing a straightforward data collection procedure. Whenever a team member makes any adjustment, they should input the data into your primary document management system to be captured and considered. While halting work to record a change might not seem like the best decision, trying to recall all the slight adjustments made over several months afterward is definitely a waste of breath.

As long as many contractors neglect collecting data mid-work, it results in passing on a disorganized mess of red-inked drawings for future managers to dig through. This greatly diminishes the customer’s experience and reflects poorly on the developer’s image.

To do things right, the project administrator should introduce a procedure called an as-built survey. Following this procedure allows stakeholders to accurately track all the changes made during each construction phase. This record of updates forms a so-called as-built map, which provides a wealth of details for preparing the final drawings of the ready object.

Examples of as-built plans

There are various kinds of details that should be included in a set of as-built drawings:

First drawing

Every item reallocation, addition, or removal must be highlighted in color. You must provide a time-stamp for the change and the reason behind it. It might be a request from the customer or an unexpected issue you have to deal with. Once your contractors learn to follow this pretty simple method, they will be able to produce and record invaluable information during construction.

It’s recommended to perform periodic construction site checks to ensure that all changes made since the last inspection are accurately reflected in the latest set of drawings. This helps immensely in preparing the record drawings, which the lead architect should sign, stamp and pass on to the maintenance team tasked with managing and running the building in the future.

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Cost

It isn't easy to estimate the actual cost of preparing as-built drawings. The pricing depends heavily on the project's scope, the volume of the point cloud measurements to be made, the complexity of the systems installed, and more. This could add up to a considerable amount of money, but mind that most governmental and enterprise-scale contracts require these drawings.

Many developers prefer to outsource this job to reduce the total as-built drawings cost. To this end, Powerkh can deliver detailed, precise, and in-depth as-built documentation preparation. We can quickly process the point cloud data provided and integrate it with your existing designs to accurately represent the way the structures are actually built.

Conclusion

As-built plans form a valuable part of architectural documentation, as they represent the evolution from the original designs to the final construction results. While many projects don’t require preparing this kind of drawing, the most prominent (and lucrative) ones do. You need to prove your ability to prepare as-built drawings if you want to improve your company’s professional image to get enterprise projects or land a governmental contract.

Should you have any more questions on how to make as-built drawings work for your project or need any assistance with delivering them — do not hesitate to contact Powerkh!

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