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The Importance of Construction Documents

11th December 2014

Drawings are a crucial part of any design and construction project. They allow the client to see the finished product, and provide input on any changes they would like to see long before the project actually breaks ground. They also allow the project managers to envision the scope of the project, including the cost of materials, equipment, and manpower; and they allow construction crews to carry out the task of bringing the project to life.

Types of Design and Construction Documents

There are several different types of drawings that go into a design and construction project including:

  • Schematics – sketches that show the basic layout of rooms, or features within rooms. They give an idea of the size and overall look of the space. These drawings are often used in the initial planning phase to give the client an idea of what the finished product will look like;
  • Design Development – drawings that show more detailed floor plans, such as the locations of window, doors, hallways and stairs. If the project has multiple stories, they also show the different elevations. These drawings are often used to flesh out the original schematics to give the client and the construction company a clearer idea of the scope of the project; and,
  • Blueprints – drawings that have the highest level of detail, showing the exact size of every feature as well as the materials to be used in construction, and any other information needed for the actual build. These drawings are often used to flesh out the design development drawings to give the construction project manager a clear idea of the full scope of the project, including the cost of materials and manpower. Clients might also keep copies of the blueprints for their records, so they can refer to them throughout the progress of the project.

Using and Sharing Documents

Construction companies often use paper documents at the actual construction sites. These documents are generally very large which makes them easy to read, although not always easy to store or transport. Another disadvantage to having documents on-site is that architects and designers often make updates and changes to their designs. If those designs don’t make it to the worksite, then the project manager and crew will be working from outdated information, which could jeopardize the project.

Another issue is that hard copies can be damaged, lost, and even stolen, which can also jeopardized the project – especially if the design team is unable to replace the lost drawings, or if the drawings are confidential.

Many construction companies are moving to using digital drawings on mobile devices like tablets and iPads. These digital drawings are stored on a central server and can be accessed by anyone on the team. The makers of Procore’s drawing management tool list several advantages to using and sharing drawings in a digital format:

  • Documents are stored off-site, where they are less prone to loss or damage;
  • The documents are stored on a secure server, ensuring better data security than you would get storing hard copies;
  • Document updates, including annotations, link RFIs, drop punch items, and revisions, are automatically updated on the server and distributed to everyone who has access to the drawings;
  • It ensures that everyone involved has access to the most current set of information;
  • Project managers can track and confirm that the updates were distributed to all the relevant parties; and,
  • Users can mark up their versions of the drawings, and even share them with the team, without changing the originals.

Additionally, accessing the documents from a mobile device like a table or smartphone presents further benefits including:

  • The mobile devices can be secured with lock screen passwords to prevent outsiders from viewing the drawings if the devices are lost or stolen;
  • Users can also remotely wipe devices that are suspected to be lost or stolen, prevent someone from accessing the data;
  • If the mobile device is damaged or destroyed, the original drawings are still safe on the server;
  • Digital storage and data sharing creates substantial savings on shipping, printing, and storage costs;
  • Sharing and storing drawings in a digital format uses less paper, which looks especially good for companies working on green construction projects.

Conclusion

Drawings are the backbone of any successful construction project. Good drawing management is the backbone of any successful construction company. While many companies still use older methods for storing, using, and sharing drawings, newer methods are more efficient, more secure, and ensure greater accuracy. It also allows team members more freedom in how they manage and handle drawings, including zooming in to key areas and making markups.

As we move deeper into the digital age, more and more companies will be adopting digital drawing storage over the old paper methods to ensure that they remain competitive in the construction market.

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.