All buildings require construction drawings and documents to provide instruction to the builder on what is to be built. Construction documentation can range from very basic drawings (with or without a specification) through to fully complete drawings and specifications with comprehensive details and schedules.
The more unique or complex the project, the greater the need for more comprehensive and complete documentation. For example, a simple garage can be constructed with a basic drawing, while an individual house or other unique buildings requires full and complete documentation.
The detail provided in construction documentation can make or break a building project. This article shares the ins and outs of construction documentation and explains why it’s essential in architecture and construction
Before we dive in
A standard construction project documentation list generally includes two different parts: the construction drawings and specifications. Before we dive into the importance of construction documentation, it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Construction drawings contain dimensions, notes, details and other graphic information. These drawings will show things like the floor plan, exterior and interior elevations, and details on how the building should be put together.
Specification documents in construction are detailed instructions and information for the builder, which are not usually shown on the drawings.
The specifications include written information for the quality and type of materials to be used, standards for various building elements, selections of products and fittings particular to the project and schedules for the windows, doors, finishes, door hardware and other ancillary items.
The specifications for building construction safeguard the owner and ensure the builder conforms to Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia.
The construction drawings and specifications combined describe all the materials and products required to construct a building. Both drawings and specifications form part of the building contract i.e. the legal agreement between owner and builder.
Construction documents for tenders
Construction documents are used to obtain competitive tenders from various builders. We prepare comprehensive and complete documents to enable the tenders to be compared equally and builders to be clear on the scope of work and materials, alleviating assumptions and allowances.
Comprehensive documentation avoids the circumstances where a builder, midway through construction, seeks large variations in the contract sum due to discrepancies and omissions in the documentation
With complete documentation after a contract is signed and the building construction is underway, any additional costs or variations generally arise from the site conditions or changes required by the client.
Construction documentation for clarity
A great deal of time and effort is invested in preparing the design. The contract documentation ensures that the design can be faithfully realised during construction.
When producing the construction documents, the architect discusses all the materials, products and fixtures with the client to ensure that their preferences are included and that the quality follows their expectations.
Disputes between clients and builders are not uncommon in the construction industry. Usually, these disputes arise because of the insufficient construction documents provided.
Construction documentation for a smooth, efficient building process
Complete contract documentation enables the builders to proceed at maximum efficiency. With all the required information, builders can coordinate subcontractors and order materials, and the construction sequence can go ahead in a timely, trouble-free manner using the information contained in the documents.
Construction documentation for other participants in the building process
The construction documents produced by an architect are used by all the participants in the building process. This includes the authorities or private certifiers who must approve the completed building and the various sub-contractors responsible for individual elements and building products.
With many products and building systems and many sub-contractors working on any project, it’s clear that comprehensive and full details of building construction are essential.
To produce a high-standard building that meets a client’s expectations, complete documentation can avoid heavy financial and construction mistakes.