These days if someone told you they were drafting their drawings by hand, you’d probably say, “Why aren’t you using CAD or Revit?” Well that is what’s still happening when it comes to how record drawings are developed.

Traditionally, record drawings were developed through a process where the contractor would keep a paper copy or construction set in his trailer. Every time a change to the drawings was made in the field or an RFI (request for information) was noted, the contractor would indicate in red on the drawings the changes by hand. After the construction phase was completed, the contractor sent those hand-drawn drawings to the architect to have his team draft the changes and review the nature and extent of those changes. Often, the marked-up set of drawings became sloppy or illegible requiring a resubmittal from the design team to get clarification from the contractor, adding several more weeks to the process.

Why are we still creating record drawings this way when the industry is dominated by the use of CAD? Many contractors create their installation drawings or shop drawings using various CAD or 3-D software programs. Why not have the contractor incorporate the design team’s RFI responses (which are developed in CAD) and field changes into a “digital construction set” using CAD. If the contractor doesn’t have the in-house capability to produce the drawings in CAD, hiring a drafting service is an option. Then when the construction phase is complete, the design team reviews the drawings as we do with any submittal for the owner.

Unfortunately, many current contracts from owners and architects still require the antiquated process of hand marked-up drawings and drafting by the design team. Having the contractor responsible for updating the construction set in CAD “in the field” will streamline the process, cut down on errors, and deliver these much needed “close-out” documents faster.

Next time you see these requirements in a contract, discuss the change to a “digital record set” with the owner or architect. Also incorporate the requirement for a “digital record set” into your specifications so that the contractor knows up-front that their firm will be responsible for these drawings.

Let’s move record drawings into the digital age!