What are as built drawings and how to use them

What are as built drawings & how to make them

What are “As Built” Drawings & How to Make Them

As built drawings are an essential part of every construction project. The main purpose of an as-built drawing is to replicate how the contractor built the project and identify what changes were made throughout the course of constructing the project. The final sets of as-built drawings hold important information; such as shop drawing changes, design changes, field changes, approved and disapproved changes during construction, and any minor or major modification to the final resulting project. At any given point in the duration of the project, there should be an up-to-date version of the as-built drawings available for referencing existing conditions.

As you can imagine, any construction project goes through many changes and modifications from the original building plan before reaching completion, no matter how minor these modifications are, recording as-built drawings visualizes the changes being made and how it will affect the remainder of the project. It also shows what the original plan was before any modifications were made, which can be useful in seeing the difference in the project as time goes on.

What is an “as-built” drawing?

By definition, an as built drawing is a revised set of drawings submitted by a contractor upon completion of a construction project. As built drawings show the dimensions, geometry, and location of all components of the project. These 2D floor plans commonly include details such as walls, doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures. One of the main purposes of an as-built drawing is to be able to document any changes made during the construction of the project that strays away from the original design. As-built drawings are sometimes referred to as just “as-builts”, “Red-Line Drawings,” or “Record-Drawings.” There are technical differences between all three of these terms, even though they may be used interchangeably. IF a contractor wants to be extremely precise, they will refer to the drawings as “As-Built Drawings” to avoid any confusion. Note that these are different from architectural drawings, which is a form of a construction drawing displaying the complete technical rendition of a building.

As built drawings are typically created by architects and designers. They are the ones to create the drawings because they have the most training and talent in doing so. However, they are not always on-site to see the work being done first hand. This means that they can sometimes be liable for inaccuracies in the completion of the project. There sometimes is a lack of communication between the two, which is when the inaccuracies come about and issues occur. Having greater communication between the job site and the designers or architects can lead to a more accurate drawing and can stay more up-to-date on any changes.

Recording an as-built drawing:

Because as-built drawings contain important information, it is crucial that every construction site has at least one set of the completed sets of as-built drawings available at all times. When handling as-built drawings, whether you are on or off the construction site, keep in mind these few factors:

Always record exact details of changes or additions to previous information, some examples of this would be sizing, materials used, dimension measurements, or installation. If any of these details change throughout the course of construction, be sure not to remove them from the as-built documentation. Crossing out old details and writing updated information is the best way to document changes being made, this way anyone can look back at as-built drawings and see exactly what details were made and where the changes stemmed from. It is crucial not to remove any old details because having the original plans can be important in making changes in the future.

If possible, as-built drawings should be color-coded for ease of use. Red is used for deleted items, green for added items, and blue can be used for special instructions, information, or details. When adding in these details, be sure to use the same scale as the original drawing, to avoid any confusion or mistakes. Another tip to keep your as-built drawing organized is by avoiding the use of abbreviations. To ensure that everyone looking at the drawing understands what is happening, it is useful to write out everything instead of using abbreviations. This is important to avoid any miscommunications between the abbreviations and explains in full what is changing and why.

It is also important that your as-built drawings include:

 – written explanations to describe modifications being made

– written dates in the corner of all as-built drawing sheets

– clear and concise handwriting

– using the same scale when adding to as-built drawings or recreating as-built drawings on different sheets

– primary colors, if applicable, to color code when items are added, deleted, or important changes.


As the construction industry moves further away from paper documentation and digital platforms begin to take their place, mobile applications offer substitutions for just about anything. With eSUB’s cloud construction documentation platform built specifically for simplifying construction jobs, it becomes much easier to create and edit an as-built drawing on any mobile device. Some software programs also allow you to add photos and other information to simplify the completion of the as-built drawing. This can assist with the gap between the field and the architects. All of the information can be updated in real-time, and in your hand at all times, rather than having to pass the information along, taking longer.

The construction process for many projects can take over a year to complete, every time an updated revision is made by the architect and sent to the construction site, labor workers must replace hundreds of pages with the updated versions; sometimes this could even require having to hand transfer any notes made on old drawings. This process is tedious and time-consuming, especially if it happens multiple times throughout a single project. Turning over your documentation and drawings to a digital platform can eliminate these hassles, and improve the efficiency of your construction project completion. Keeping these drawings in a digital format can also prevent any lost paperwork or plans. With everything digital, you don’t need to keep track of papers and little details, because they are all accessible from a mobile device.


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