So much is happening in the midst of construction that it’s no surprise when as-builts are overlooked until the end of a project. But instead of an afterthought, these documents are actually a key component in construction – providing details for the future of a project. They can also make or break your reputation as a contractor. With a plan for as-builts from the beginning of a project, you can set yourself and your client up for success. Here’s how.
How As-Built Construction Drawings Help Planners Make Key Building Decisions
While as-builts may not affect you directly as a contractor, they can play a major role in the future of the project. Let’s take a look at the purpose and function of as-built drawings.
What Are As-Built Construction Drawings?
While initial blueprints are the instructions for building, as-builts allow project owners and facilities managers to compare original plans to final, true outcomes. As-builts are essentially a finalized version of blueprints, incorporating design and specifications as to the way the project was actually built, after any changes that occurred during the construction phase.
From change orders to material swaps due to unavailability to last-minute punch list updates, the as-builts reflect the building as it exists, not as it was originally designed. Subcontractors and general contractors alike must track all of these changes to submit to the architect for the final drawings.
Why Are As-Builts Important?
Blueprints are great resources for contractors, but they’re not enough for facilities managers and others left to handle maintenance and upkeep after a structure is completed.
- As-builts are crucial for renovations and later changes to the structure. Future contractors need to know exactly what they’re dealing with to create accurate estimates and to do work that is safe, structurally sound, and in harmony with the existing materials and design of the project.
- For minor repairs and facilities maintenance, crews rely on as-built drawings to pinpoint areas needing attention. They can identify proper materials required for the task at hand and save time.
- In the event of an emergency, as-builts provide essential information for first responders as well as clues for investigators. With as-builts available, contractors who adhered properly to specs can be cleared of liability after a disaster.
Providing owners with thorough as-built drawings from the project architect goes a long way toward presenting your company as a professional entity that anticipates clients’ needs and delivers exceptional results.
Keep in mind that as-builts must contain all of the documentation of changes to blueprints in order to be useful. Without clear labeling and detailed data, a project as-built is inefficient, unhelpful, and even potentially hazardous.
In the thick of a construction process, it can be tough to think ahead to completion and the as-built stage, but with a bit of advance planning, you can be ready to present comprehensive as-builts containing everything your client needs.
How to Streamline Your As-Built Process
If your existing as-built drawing plan consists of making a note at the end of a project of any changes you can remember and passing those along to the architect, your process could definitely benefit from an overhaul.
While as-builts happen at the end of the project, your process for them should start at the beginning. When change orders occur, document them and be sure any subcontractors are prepared to do the same. Any time any part of the project deviates from the original plans, the change should be noted with details and photos for the as-builts.
This documentation process is best done with a cloud-based construction management platform that will allow you and your crew to capture updates in real-time from any device and store data in an easily organizable and retrievable way for use later in the process.
To ensure your subs are onboard, you might consider requiring them to use your chosen solution and taking some time to train them on how you expect data to be collected and maintained throughout the project so that everyone is on the same page.
Benefits of Efficient As-Built Management
Not only will an efficient management strategy for your as-builts present your company as professional and provide clear information for the future, it will also help you keep the project on schedule and on budget during construction.
- Stay on top of changes and setbacks as they happen. If everyone on a construction project is faithfully documenting for the as-builts, change orders won’t fall through the cracks. You’ll be able to track them right away and adjust schedules as needed for contractors in later building phases, rather than finding out too late and having crews show up onsite before they’re needed.
- Transparency among all parties allows for improved collaboration. When foundation or framing work involves a change to the location of a stairwell, doorway, window, or other planned feature, this change can affect other contractors’ work down the line. You’re able to notify those affected so they can get ahead of adjusting material orders.
- No more scrambling at project closeout. With all changes documented ahead of time, your project closeout process can be smoother and less harried. Spend time creating clear, thorough documents rather than rushing to collect information haphazardly.
Managing your as-built process from the start of a project ultimately benefits all parties by saving time, reducing costs, and enhancing communication.
Best As-Built Construction Drawing Software
There are several software options out there that can help you handle as-built drawings. Many large construction management suites can handle your as-built documentation, but often these tools are not designed for this specific use case and can be clunky to use. They also tend to be expensive.
Choosing the best as-built software involves a few key aspects to consider:
- Cloud-based mobile technology. If your software is not cloud-based it will be practically useless for field crews who need real-time access wherever they are and on whatever device they use.
- Offline access. Internet access can be spotty on construction sites, so an app that allows crews to continue working offline and sync later when service becomes available is crucial to continued success.
- Speed and ease of use. Waiting several moments for plans to zoom or pan costs your crew time; select a tool that functions instantaneously.
- No sheet limitations. Plan sets for construction jobs can be enormous, and when you share with multiple subcontractors, sheets can add up fast. Look for a solution without upcharges for going over sheet limits.
- Photo uploads. Drawings or written notes aren’t always enough to clearly identify issues. Use an as-built management system that allows you to not only include photos but to link them to specific areas of plans for more detail.
There’s only one platform that gives you the features and flexibility you need at a price that’s right for your business. Start your free trial of SmartUse today and make your as-built plan unbeatable.