The Construction Drawings

The transition from approved preliminary design/concept drawings to full-blown construction documents is very significant because it signifies the completion of one phase—that of making design decisions— and the beginning of a new phase—the production of construction documents, which is essential to the implementation of the project.

Construction drawings are sometimes referred to as "working drawings" or "production drawings." These drawings provide all the required information, both graphic and written, about the project. The information provided will be specific to every aspect of the proposed project. Preparing construction drawings represents the final step in the design process. The completed drawings become a "set" incorporating all the modifications made by the designer during the process of transition from the schematic-design to the working-drawings phase. Included in the construction drawing set will be detailed information regarding the building envelope, structural and mechanical systems, furniture, equipment, lighting, outlets, demolition, and so on. This information is explained through floor plans, interior or exterior elevations and sections, mechanical and electrical drawings, and detail drawings. Detailed specifications are also typically included.

The construction drawings and specifications are also used for pricing the project. Two or more general contractors are usually provided with the same set of documents to bid on. This facilitates fairness in that each contractor shares the same information and no one has any more or less information than his or her counterpart has when pricing.

Building Permits

The completed blueprints must also be submitted to the local building department to ensure that the proposed design is in compliance with all regulatory agency requirements, including those set by the zoning, fire, health, and other departments. A building permit will only be issued after the drawings are checked and approved by the various departments.

Almost all new construction (commercial, civic, industrial, residential, etc.) and renovation require a building permit. In order to obtain a permit, a complete set of construction drawings is required. Only in the case of minor changes to an existing building will a permit not be required. Examples of minor changes would include minor repair or painting. For residential projects, such as a renovation or addition to an existing building, a building permit will be required. All structural work must comply with applicable code standards.

A building permit is a document that states that approval from the local building department has been given to proceed with construction or demolition. This document is numbered and recorded at the local building department. The permit(s) must be posted in a visible location on the construction site. It is unlawful to start construction or demolition before a permit is issued. This document is necessary for all new construction, additions or renovations of both residential and commercial projects. An application is made at the building department in the city, town, or municipality in which the work is to take place.

A complete set of construction documents can be large—30 or more drawings, or small—10 to 15 drawings—depending on the size and type of project. A shopping mall would require many drawings, whereas a small residence would require fewer. Today almost all construction drawings are produced

Figure 6.1 A and B. Computer-generated renderings of a building exterior and floor plan (source: Archiform Ltd.). C. Hand-drawn office-lobby interior with mahogany paneling (source: Kubba Design).

on computers. One reason is that CAD software is faster and results in greater drawing accuracy, consistency, correctability, and easier storage.

Construction drawings are considered to be legal documents, and everyone involved in the project— owner, architect/engineer, and general contractor—all use these drawings as their source of information. But in order to produce a comprehensive set of construction drawings, knowledge of design and building methods are necessary.

The types of drawings discussed in this chapter are essentially construction drawings, including architectural drawings, structural drawings, mechanical drawings, electrical diagrams, details, and shop drawings. Construction drawing is any drawing that furnishes the information required by the craftspeople to rough in equipment or erect a structure.

Cover Sheet

The first sheet in a set of working drawings is the cover sheet (Figure 6.2). This sheet is important because it lists the drawings that comprise the set (a drawing index) in the order that they appear. It normally lists the specific requirements of the building code having jurisdiction over the design of the project. A cover sheet should also list the project name and location, building permit information, key plan, and general notes. Names and contact information of all consultants should also be included. Other important information required includes the total square footage of the structure, the use group the structure will fall under, and the type of construction. Another important element on the cover sheet is the list of abbreviations or graphic symbols used in the set. Usually there is a section that contains general notes for the contractor, such as "Do not scale" or "All dimensions to be verified on site."

With larger projects, a second cover sheet is sometimes included that includes information not shown on the main cover sheet. Likewise, a location map is sometimes included to locate the project site in relation to nearby towns or highways.

Information presented in a set of working drawings, along with the specifications, should be complete so the craftspeople who use them will require no further information. Working drawings show the size, quantity, location, and relationship of the building parts. Generally, working drawings may be divided into three main categories: architectural, mechanical, and electrical. Regardless of the category, working drawings serve several functions.

They provide a basis for making material, labor, and equipment estimates before construction starts. They give instructions for construction, showing the sites and locations of the various parts. They provide a means of coordination between the different ratings. They complement the specifications; one source of information is incomplete without the other when drawings are used for construction work.

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