What is Architectural Construction Documentation?

Architectural Construction Documentation also called ‘Working Drawings’ is the set of drawings issued by an architect, by which a building or interior is constructed. It contains accurate information about material, thickness, size, placement, fixing and services.

 Where does Architectural Construction Documentation appear in the Project Life Cycle?

Project Documentation supports the Project Life Cycle at its various stages (terminology might differ in different countries):

  1. Conception stage: Site documentation, Presentation drawings, Schematic Design
  2. Development stage:Design Development, Permit Set
  3. Implementation stage: Bid Set, Architectural Construction Documentation and As-Built Set

Why a separate set for Architectural Construction Documentation?

A valid question, oft asked (especially by people who pay for the drawings!):

“When detailed drawings are made for a Bid Set (drawings by which contractors price their bid), then what new information comes in to justify separate Architectural Construction Documentation?”

Part of the answer is in the question: the contractor. Some contractors will construct exactly as per drawings (like brickwork, concrete, formwork, millwork, flooring, AC ducts, etc.). But many, in fact 80% of the building or interior consists of prefabricated elements like beams, doors, windows, false floors, floor finishes, ALL furniture. These vendors measure the site and furnish ‘Shop Drawings’ which get incorporated in to the final Architectural Construction Documentation.

Another reason is the human element. The designer and the client, in their desire for perfection, keep changing things while they can.

So Architectural Construction Documentation should imply that this it: Final! No changes now!But some changes do happen. Else, why would we need the last set called: ‘As Built Drawings’?

What elements go into the creation of Architectural Construction Documentation?

The final Architectural Construction Documentation set is a result of collaboration from all the participants of the construction process:

  • Clients: Changes incorporated after Final approval after all stages of selection of vendor, costs and time.
  • Vendors: Shop drawings
  • Service consultants: All service inputs
  • Site/ Community: Parameters from site  and neighborhood

Is there a list of drawings for the Architectural Construction Documentation?

Here is what typically goes in to an Architectural Construction Documentation Set:

  • Cover sheet: Project information, drawing numbers, etc.
  • Existing Site Plan
  • Architectural Plans – site, each floor
  • Demolition Plans
  • Service Plans – for each service
  • Coordinated Service Plans
  • Reflected Ceiling Plans
  • Flooring Plans
  • Sections
  • Elevations
  • Detail sheets
  • Notes
  • Specification sheets

 How do we ensure the right people receive the Architectural Construction Documentation Set?

The utmost care is taken in ensuring the drawings are accurate and competent to enable correct translation of the design on site. At the same time, it is equally important that it reaches the right person at the right time.

To ensure this, the Project Manager observes the following:

  • Draws up a list of drawings, dates and intended recipients at the start of the projects, and circulates it to all intended recipients
  • Uses that list as a checklist every time a drawing is issued
  • Each drawing is issued through a transmittal(electronic or paper)
  • The drawing is not considered issued till an acknowledgement is received from each recipient
  • The acknowledgement is worded such that the recipient does not simply confirm receipt of a file or a packet, but confirms the contents as mentioned are there and are readable

This procedure needs to be followed even more strictly when a revision occurs. Many a near blunder have been averted on site by a discovery that the Data Cabling contractor, the Modular Furniture vendor and the carpenter working on different versions of the plan!

 Are there any commercial or legal implications of Architectural Construction Documentation?

In many countries, the Architectural Construction Documentation Set is a legal document. A contractor not abiding by its instructions will be liable for damages. Similarly, the architect will be liable for damages in case an error in construction occurs on account of wrong drawings.

The Architectural Construction Documentation is also the base for calculating final bills and payments for all vendors. Unexplained variance of this set from the bid set can cause a problem in bill payments.

Most of all, the Architectural Construction Documentation has to ensure the final project lives up to the promises made in the early stages of Design to the client on accounts of planning, environment, space, safety and building codes.