Construction Drawings

Forming part of the design process, construction drawings are a vital component of the production information...
Construction drawings

Forming part of the design process, construction drawings are a vital component of a buildings production information that initially forms a projects tender documentation, and later the contract documents for its construction.

Providing a form a graphical representation of what is to be built, how it should be built, and what to use to do so, construction drawings must be concise and coordinated to avoid what can be costly mistakes and unwanted delays once a project reaches site.

Here we discuss the purpose of construction drawings, their different types, and how they differ from other project drawings.


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What is a construction drawing?

In short, construction drawings are a form of graphical representation that present the various aspects of a project that are going to be built …a kit of parts if you like.

They are made injunction with the guidelines of the local development authority and form the legal documents and tender information, that a contract between the employer/client and the contractor is agreed.

People presume construction drawings as just floor plans, elevations, and sections but they are in fact a series of highly detailed documents that can range depending on the scale of the project.

In the case of a small residential refurbishment and/or extension, a simple set of plans and sections may suffice, but for more complex and larger projects, elements such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), electricity, plumbing, and fire safety drawings for which the specialists are consulted.

Construction drawings must be made clear, concise, and easy to understand for the contractor on-site, the more detail-oriented work is produced, the more control one has during the construction phase of a project.

Along with the pack of construction drawings, a set of specifications and schedules are also created to instruct such elements as the windows, bathrooms, finishes, and internal furniture for example.

Again, depending on the scale of the project these may alternatively be in part included within the construction drawings, however it is advised that are kept separate.

Ideally all this information is created prior to construction starting in order to avoid mistakes and miscommunication. Nowadays, BIM (Building Information modeling) software is used to create more precise construction drawings that can provide a better prediction for the timeline of a project.

Why are they important?

In short, they should prevent unwanted delays and financial loss to the client, through providing an efficient and specific set of instructions to follow and consider throughout the build process.

Drawings can change many hands many times, and must therefore be easy to understand. As in some cases, hurried steps can result in inadequate work which can result in a mishap that may be putting lives at risk.

Therefore, they must be verified by the architect and by other specialists working on the project prior to issuing them for site use.

This includes submitting them for verification to the local development authority. Where it is important to make sure the local building codes are adhered to, as any error or inaccurate information can lead to a rejection.

Equally, if a building is found to have been constructed in violation of building codes, then fine will be issued and in very severe situations the whole structure or the part in violation may have to be demolished.

Hence, all this information should be kept in mind while dealing with construction drawings.

Types of Construction drawings

Depending on the scale of a project, different disciplines come together to work on a single outcome. They produce many different drawings that are used during construction, and are kept in a single set of construction drawings.

Now, different projects can have various requirements of drawings. Here, we will look at some of the different types of construction drawing used in the industry today:

1. Site plans – A site plan covers the full extent of the construction site. It contains information about existing and proposed structures along with nearby roads, drains, and electrical supply. It also covers topological elements or natural features.

2. Floor plans – Floor plans are an overview of how the design will look when seen from an aerial view or a form of orthographic projection without the roof. They include planned spaces, dimensions, fixtures, walls, and staircase with direction.

3. Elevation drawings – Elevation diagrams are the 2D vertical view of a structure that gives information on the façade finish and openings, vertical dimensions, and materials.

4. Section drawings – Sections are similar to elevations, but show a view of the structure as though it had been sliced or cut along a plane. This reveals more about the materials and details on the inside of a structure. Such as foundation details, walls, beams, columns, and support structures.

5. Room layouts – Room layouts are further detailed drawings of individual rooms in a typical floor plan and with a furniture layout and dimensions. Though they are mostly covered in floor plans but can be given specific details depending on the project.

6. Component drawings – Component drawings provide detailed information about the individual units. They are also termed as a production drawing if it facilitates its manufacture. It is an authorized document to produce the component on the shop floor.

7. Detailing drawings – Detailed drawings show the wall, floor, roof and opening junctions at a large and annotated scale. Their purpose is to provide information on how these various components come together to form the desired outcome and finish.

8. Mechanical and electrical drawings – Mechanical and electrical drawings show the power and electrical locations inside the building. These can range from the location a light switch and TV point to the placement of a mechanical extract.

9. Services and drainage drawings – Services and drainage drawings depict the water movement inside a building. It ensures proper supply and drainage of water for its users, with pipes, water tanks, pumps, drains, and vents.

10. Finishing drawings – Finishing drawings are similar to detailed drawings in the way that they show small details. The only difference is that instead of structural elements, they focus on design elements like floor patterns, plaster textures, and wall paint colors.

11. Reflected ceiling drawings – Reflected ceiling drawings (RCP) are just a floor plan that looks up at the ceiling instead of the floor. This covers all the ceiling elements – lights, fixtures, HVAC diffusers.

12. Structural drawings – A structural drawing is a plan that shows how a building or structure will be built. These drawings are usually prepared by a structural engineer based on the information provided by the architect. This includes the foundation, floor, and roof plan of a building.

13. Perspective drawings – Perspective drawings are the depiction of the proposed structure in 3D. It gives a visualization of how the project will look once the construction is finished. This is also used in client meetings and for the display of projects.

Working drawings vs Construction Drawings

We realize many of you are wondering the same question, how is a working drawing different from a construction drawing, right? Well, a working drawing can be considered a subset as the main difference occurs in the design phase when the design drawings are developed into a thorough and precise set of construction documents.

These drawings with specifications contain all the details and notes to explain the entire design intent to the builder. One key difference in working drawings is the need to be reviewed from time to time and at the end of the project to produce the As-built drawings.

Shop Drawings vs Construction Drawings vs As-Built Drawings

Shop Drawings, Construction Drawings, and As-Built Drawings are all essential parts of the construction process and if you are involved in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry you will most likely be familiar with these.

As we have briefly discussed construction drawings here, we’ll look into shop drawings and As-built drawings and talk about them and their differences.

Shop drawings – Also known as prefabrication drawings are detailed plans and sketches that provide necessary information to the fabricator about the manufacturing, assembly and installation of the components of a structure.

They are considered add-on or a detailed drawing of a component, mostly used in steel detailing, door & window details, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering (MEP) components.

These drawings are prepared before the construction phase and integrated with construction drawings such that every member of the team is on the same page.

As-built drawings – These are called record drawings as they are a revised set of drawings submitted by a contractor upon completion of a project or a particular work.

They provide a set of documents that reflect all the changes made in the drawings throughout the construction process. The final as-built drawings contain all the actual dimensions and specifications with which the structure is built.

It contains modifications, field changes, shop drawing changes, design changes, and miscellaneous work. They are mainly worked on by contractors and builders. They are useful for future development and renovations of the structure.

Construction drawing symbols

A single construction drawing often has to convey many different sets of information that have to be easily read and executed. Drawing symbols provide an excellent shorthand method to producing this detailed information, without over cluttering the drawing and therefore maintain its legibility.

Generally speaking there are a universal set of symbols, drawing standards, and markers that architects use to represent anything from a scale bar and north point to a pendant light and power socket, which together with over 325 CAD blocks we provide in our AutoCAD Template Kit below:


Never search for a single CAD block ever again.

There is literally nothing worse than wasting valuable drawing time trying to find the “right” block, symbol, hatch or correct line weight. This template kit eliminates all of the guesswork.


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