If a picture can speak a thousand words, in a project, as built drawings can speak a thousand construction processes. But in all seriousness, with the hundreds and thousands of steps and documents needed to complete just one project, as builts might be overlooked for their importance. Nonetheless, as built drawings remain an essential process in a project, especially to maintain a project’s lifecycle after construction has ended.
Despite this, as builts are often not included, or are only addressed right at the end when an accurate product is far less achievable because of a failure to record changes to the project along the way. The good news is that new technology—for instance, hyperlinked as builts—is enabling an easier as built process.
More good news: Probably the biggest problem with as built drawings is not that they are insurmountably meticulous to create, but that too few contractors truly understand their importance or how to properly execute. Below, we’re here to remedy that with a thorough look at what as built drawings are, who creates them and why they’re important. We’ll also offer a roundup of the most critical items to include in each as built drawing.
While creating as builts might still present a less-than-appealing step in any construction project, at least now you’ll know how to do them correctly. Or, rather, how to offload them on a capable, but junior member of the design department (happy now?).
What Is an “As Built”?
Also known as record drawings and red-line drawings, as builts drawings are documents that allow a compare and contrast between the designed versus final specifications, and provide a detailed blueprint of the building and the land around it as actually constructed in the end. According to Business Dictionary, as builts are a “revised set of drawings submitted by a contractor upon completion of a project or a particular job. They reflect all changes made in the specifications and working drawings during the construction process, and show the exact dimensions, geometry and location of all elements of the work completed under the contract.”
The final as built drawings include any and all of the following, as well as every other change made during the construction phase of a project:
- Field changes
- Shop drawing changes
- Design changes
- Extra works
As built drawings go hand-in-hand with as built surveys, also called as built maps. These are used during the construction phase to continually track how the land and building is changing as work progresses. Dedicated as built surveys make as built drawings much easier to construct in the end, because of the greater level of detail recorded from every stage of the project.
Who Creates As Built Drawings?
Typically, the architects or designers who originally designed the project will also create the as builts. They are familiar with the original specifications and are therefore the most qualified to reflect recorded changes. According to Cornell University Facilities Services, the people in charge of as built drawings differ depending on whether the design job is in-house or from an external party, like the contractor:
“For in-house design jobs … these could be put together by anyone on the design team or the shops,” whereas for “out of house design jobs … the drawings are put together by the contractor, typically with the assistance of sub-contractors for submittal to the architect for inclusion in the record drawings.”
As mentioned, as builts on a whole are much easier to accomplish with detailed notes from every phase of construction. Because truly useful as builts require so many nitty gritty details, it’s simpler to use technology to record changes along the way than it is to try to recover the details of those changes afterward. One helpful tool to detail changes is mobile technology powered by construction software to enable you to track adjustments immediately, avoiding loss of changes and errors in recording them.
Why Are As Builts 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 the Construction Management Association of America explains:
“They are important for those who use the finished product, as they provide a legacy of what was actually built. This legacy becomes more important, as we continue to build on top of old work, land ownership changes or for public works, as employees familiar with what was built are replaced over time by attrition.”
As builts, in other words, ensure that as designers, architects and contracts move on from the project and, a resource still exists beyond the original blueprints.
Overall, as builts are important for the two main reasons:
- Assists the Facilities Team: With a full record of change, facility teams can meet issues faster and owners can save money down the road due to improved operations and speed
- Improves the Renovation Process: With a full history of project changes, owners can see exactly what has been built and do not have to invest heavily in learning about existing conditions
Why Should Contractors Care?
If you’re a general contractor, you might be thinking, “why should I prioritize as-builts at the end of a project?” The truth is, you shouldn’t just focus on creating as builts; you should strive to elevate the quality of the packages you provide, too.
Good as builts drawings can do wonders to improve your reputation as a company and increase your business in the long-term. If you’re a subcontractor, as builts can be especially important as you might be hired for system maintenance and renovations. At this point, the information and data found in packages won’t just benefit owners, it will benefit your ability to successfully complete a job.
Looking to learn more about how to create quality as-built drawings? Read on.
What Should Be Included in As Builts?
In order to make your as builts as clear and useful as possible, you must include a wide variety of details and documents. This information includes, but is not limited to:
- Recording changes in scale, or ideally using the same scale as the original drawings
- Using clear labels and descriptions rather than vague phrases such as “similar” or “equal to”
- Including changes in sizing, materials, dimensions, location, installation, fabrication and so on
- Noting unexpected obstructions encountered, and the solutions decided upon
- Noting dates when changes were made
- Recording any changes made as a result of final inspection
- Attaching all related shop drawings and appendices
Obviously, this is a significant amount of information to include and needs a great deal of detail to be recorded along the way. Although this can seem like a daunting and time-consuming prospect, it’s presumably less intimidating than telling a client no as builts are available, or turning in shoddy work that does not serve them (or your chances of getting rehired) in the long run. Nonetheless, mobile technology can assist in putting this record process in practically auto-drive.
Use Technology to Produce Better As Builts
If you’d like to create the highest quality as builts, then utilizing mobile technology is your best option. The right construction technology will enable you to record all field changes in real time, helping you to quickly review and apply that information to your resulting as built.
One major thing to keep in mind when choosing construction technology to assist with the creation of as builts is to choose a technology solution that prioritizes data portability. Data portability means that all the data generated from the construction process is available both physically and digitally to the facility maintenance team who will be accessing it. In short, this accurately helps ensure that this is one source of truth.
So, don’t spend any more time fearing as builts—with the right knowledge and tools, you can successfully (and painlessly) capture an accurate snapshot of your entire construction project.