Construction Drawings, sometimes called Working Drawings are the instruction manual for a construction project. The quality of the information available on the drawings has a direct correlation to the performance of the entire workforce responsible for the construction. Poor drawings are often the culprit of mistakes and expensive change orders.
We have a checklist that we use to ensure that needed information is provided on the drawings. Our approach seeks to understand the needs of each specific subcontractor or material supplier, so that they can perform at their best without misunderstanding or missing information. Our goal is to manage our projects in an organized fashion such that the trades prefer to work on our projects instead of those of other designers.
Construction drawings typically include the following pages plus additional sheets depending of the complexity of the home and necessity to show specific details.
Site Plan - The site plan should show where the structure is sited on the property and indicate exterior features like driveways, sidewalks, patios and pool decks. Property and setback lines, utility locations and drainage patterns and structures should be clearly indicated. The site plan is often the first page in a set of drawings and may also include detailed information about the project and responsible parties.
Foundation - Footings, foundation walls and details about the slab or first floor level are usually included. Specific sizes and details of the foundation should be detailed by the structural engineer with perhaps reference to one of the detail pages. Plumbing dimensions for piping under the slab are a nice addition to a good set of drawings. If you've ever seen the plumber scratching around in the dirt trying to locate fixtures you'd understand why. Well planned drawings will show recessed door sill locations and even indicate electrical floor outlets and specific floor elevations.
Floor Plan(s) - The floor plans typically have the most information in the set. Sometimes there's too much information and they are difficult to read. The use of tables or schedules can reduce the clutter but sometimes additional pages may be necessary. A separate page for dimensions and sizes is frequently a good solution.
Elevations - Exterior views of all four sides of the home plus additional views necessary to expose all surfaces. Sometimes the front elevation may show more artistic flair, but the purpose of the drawings is for construction detail and "pretty" renderings may be needed as supplement.
Roof Plan - The roof plan frequently comes next but may not actually be used during construction. The truss fabricator will use the drawing to create a roof truss plan that shows the layout and crucial structural information. The truss fabricator may also supply a 2nd floor layout that needs to be incorporated into the set. Much of the information about hurricane wind loads is provided on this drawing.
Framing - Additional details and information is frequently needed by the framers depending on the complexity of the home design. Section drawings which are slices through a wall or the entire structure, show assembly details, dimensions and descriptive notes.
Details - Additional pages will likely be provided by the structural engineer, to show specific details for footings, structural walls and roof systems. Enlarged scale drawings are provided to clarify important details. Door sills, window flashing, roof overhangs and staircases are among the common items.
Electrical - Floor plans with electrical components indicated upon them are the typical way that electrical systems are indicated on the drawings. A legend with the associated symbols should be provided. Since electrical is the most-changed aspect of many projects, careful review and understanding is necessary.
Mechanical - Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) drawings are not commonly part of the documentation shared with the owner although they are part of all construction projects. Likewise, plumbing drawings are usually not presented and approved by the owner. We review these drawings with our customers and make sure that information is coordinated into the working drawings so that mistakes can be prevented.
Reflected Ceiling Plan - Except for the simplest homes, every set of drawings should include or be supplemented with a reflected ceiling plan. This drawing shows details on all of the ceilings that includes architectural details and trim, lighting and AC vents. Without this plan, the location of many of these items is subject to onsite decisions.
Flooring and Tile - A convenient drawing that indicates all of the floor materials and patterns. Tile details for bathrooms and kitchens can also be shown, streamlining the installation process.
Architectural Interiors - Arched openings, cabinet elevations, fireplace details, entertainment centers and more, all need to be designed for approval by the owner. Most basic residential drawings don't include this additional information necessary to convey everything accurately to the project team.
Renderings and 3D Images - Artistic renderings and three-dimensional images are not usually associated with the construction drawings, although they can be helpful in conveying designs to the owner. Computer-aided design (CAD) is evolving quickly and many designers are on the leading edge of technology. However, many great designers still use hand-drawn images and don't seek to learn the new tricks. The availability of these enhanced images depends on the designer selected and you can expect that it can come with substantial additional cost.