What are construction documents in Architecture

What are Construction Documents in Architecture?

The architects designing your next house or commercial building will always create documentation for the construction team, either hard copy or digital, to refer to. This documentation, typically known as construction documents or construction drawings, becomes the guideline for the construction process. 

Each step is discussed and noted within these documents, which are then to be followed at each stage of construction. 

This ensures that no errors occur during the construction process, thereby saving time, money and resources. Another essential reason for beginning with the documents is to ensure the necessary permits are gathered, and building codes are followed. From a legal aspect, this step is crucial before laying the foundation of the building.

The Process of Architectural Documents or Construction Drawings: 

Architects create construction drawings of a building using either computer-aided design (CAD) software or by hand using drafting tools. These drawings, also known as blueprints, are used to communicate the design and construction of a building to contractors, engineers, and other stakeholders.

Construction drawings typically include a set of plans, elevations, sections, and details that show the size, shape, and materials of each part of the building. The plans show the layout of the building from above, including the location of walls, doors, windows, and other features. 

Elevation: The elevations show the building from the front, side, and back and provide information about the height and appearance of the building. 

Section: The sections show how the building is assembled, including details about the foundations, framing, and finishes. 

These details provide more information about specific construction techniques and materials used in the building.

In addition to the drawings, architects may also create 3D models of the building using CAD software to visualize the design and help with the planning and construction process. These models can be used to create virtual walkthroughs of the building, as well as to create construction documents and other materials.

Overall, the process of creating construction drawings involves a combination of design skills, technical knowledge, and communication skills, as the architect must be able to translate their design ideas into clear and accurate drawings that can be used to construct the building. It serves as an important checklist to ascertain everything is in order.

“In pure architecture, the smallest detail should have a meaning or serve a purpose.” – Augustus W. N. Pugin

Residential Architects

Reasons for Creating Construction Drawings:

Construction drawings are an essential part of the design and construction process for a building. They serve several important purposes: 

Clear Communication in construction drawings.

Construction drawings provide a clear and visual way for the architect to communicate their design ideas to contractors, engineers, and other stakeholders. They show how the building is intended to be constructed, which helps ensure it is built according to the architect’s vision.

Ease in Coordination: 

Construction drawings or documents help coordinate the work of different contractors and trades, such as electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians. By providing a detailed and accurate representation of the building’s design, construction drawings help ensure that all the different parts of the building are properly integrated and that the building is constructed efficiently and safely.

General Documentation: 

Construction documents or drawings are also a permanent record of the building’s design and construction. Accuracy in details and dimensions of the building is made possible via professionally drafted architectural construction documents. They provide a reference for future repairs and renovations and can be used to resolve disputes or clarify design intent.

Overall, construction drawings play a crucial role in the design and construction of a building, helping to ensure that the building is built according to the architect’s vision and meets the needs of its users.

Understanding your Vision and Goals with planning on paper

The Beginner’s Checklist for Architectural Construction Documents: 

You want to make sure you have the basics covered in your documentation by keeping the following items in mind as well: 

  1. A0 sheets: Permits and general information 
  2. A1 sheets: Demolition plans – If it is a renovation project.
  3. A2 sheets: Floor plans – Based on the specification of your building floors.
  4. A3 sheets: Elevations
  5. A3 sheets: Cross Sections of the building. (You can see the cross-section points and directions in the floor plans.)
  6. A4 sheets: Finishing plans (ceiling, lighting, etc.)
  7. A5 sheets: Interior elevation
  8. A5a sheets: Interior details
  9. A6 sheets: Schedules of openings like windows, doors and other features.
    A7 sheets: Notes or any other details.
    Structural drawings. (These drawings are issued by a structure engineer and attached with the architecture drawings to allow ease in coordination)
    Mechanical drawings. (Drawings issued by mechanical engineer)
    Electrical drawings. (Drawings issued by electrical engineer)
    Plumbing drawings. (Drawings issued by public health engineer)

The other types of equally important but not necessarily related documents, such as bidding documents, contracts between all parties, project management agreements, cost estimates, legal permits, etc., are not classified as construction documents. However, clients would be wiser to keep them all separately safe. 

Overall, it is imperative to note that the process of documenting architectural projects has varying degrees of differences among architects. There is a notable distinction between residential and commercial documentation, mainly due to levels of complexity, code, and regulations.

However, if, due to circumstances, the client is unable to uphold this responsibility, they can hire professional architects to represent their best interests. The architects at Primarc Studio consider it an important part of the construction process. This is why they are conscious of exhibiting the highest level of care and attention to the clients and constructors of their projects.

“A designer is a planner with an aesthetic sense.” – Bruno Munari.