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The What, Why and How of As Built Drawings

May 26, 2021 2:03:54 PM

A single factor can make a massive difference in your construction projects: As-Built drawings. From planning to execution, these drawings — when accurate — provide the type of starting point that will create confidence in your final product, adding value to your projects and reducing unnecessary risk for your team.

With accurate drawings of your building, you can make smart decisions on site. Whether you’re an architect, designer, construction manager, or any other part of the real estate development process, you can feel assured that you are making smart decisions based on situational awareness of the space you’re improving. As Built drawings can serve as one of your biggest assets.

The quality of set of As Built drawings relies on its accuracy. The documents must not only reflect any changes realized throughout the building process, but needs to fully represent what now exists as a result. Creating these drawings can be costly and time-consuming without the right technology and help from experts.

What are As Built drawings?

"As Built's" are a highly detailed set of measured drawings of a building in question. Size, shape, dimensions, and locations all elements of the built environment factor into the accuracy of an As Built drawing. Accurate As Built's serve as an accurate point of departure for all the project's stakeholders. Final As Built drawings will incorporate modifications, field changes, design changes, and any alterations that occurred in the construction process. They can even offer a compare-and-contrast view between the designed building and the final blueprint.

As a result, As Built's have a number of important uses, like helping architects or construction managers understand the step-by-step evolution of their work. Post-construction, facilities teams who manage the building can solve issues faster. Planning and renovation require less upfront expense, since everyone "is working from the same sheet of music."

Why do you need great As Built drawings?

Knowing the exact dimensions and characteristics of a space is a "must-have" in any construction or development project. Without an accurate starting point, it's nearly impossible for teams to effectively manage the uncertainties that come with construction.

Consider an existing structure with four walls. While it may seem easy enough to measure manually with a tape measure, that approach results in a small, but meaningful, margin of error. If one were to apply that approach not just to a room but to an entire building, the results would be unacceptable. However, with 3D laser scanning, the measurement process is not only much faster, but it’s also exact with virtually no human error. You can start accurate and stay accurate. Instead of using hand-measured drawings, today's best As Built's benefit from the ability to generate millions of measurements per second in three-dimensional space using 3D laser scanning.

Thanks to modern laser-based and digital technology, it’s easier than ever to ensure that:

  • The drawings are created with digital measurement, eliminating human error and promoting accuracy
  • As Built drawings are available and accessible to any stakeholder who might need them
  • The drawings are easy  to access from anywhere, including job sites, by utilizing the cloud
  • Each As Built is a living documents that can be updated as needed


For the architects and designers who are often tasked with creating these As Built drawings, using the right technology is essential for accuracy. It’s also smarter in the long term: it’s economical, and it ensures your reputation as an accurate, data-driven business with high standards, driving more business. When contractors are given a dependable set of As Built's, they can provide more accurate pricing, cut costs thanks to fewer mistakes, and waste fewer materials.

Unfortunately, today’s As Builts often have missing or inaccurate information. That leads to errors that slow down the building process and reflect poorly on you. These types of drawings might: 

  • Lack three-dimensional information
  • Fail to include photographic documentation
  • Only have surface-level data
  • Be difficult to update
  • Be disorganized

How do you make an excellent As Built drawing?

The first step is to set yourself up for success right at the beginning, by determining your needs, choosing your technology, and committing to keeping As Builts updated through the entire construction process.

Using the cloud for data capture, storage, editing and distribution is a great way to ensure these details don’t fall through the cracks. Having phones or tablets on site helps with photos and notes, which will be essential to the accuracy of your project.

Once you have established the importance of your As Built drawings, and have the information in place, it's important to understand that there are many options for capturing data.

3D laser scanning data can be used for Building Information Modeling (BIM), which shows multiple physical and functional characteristics of a property. This format has several important uses. BIM documentation can be used for creating virtual walk-throughs, increasing work site safety and productivity, improved scheduling and sequencing, model-based cost estimation, clash detection, and accurate square footage calculations. With these tools in place, and experts to implement them, your As Built drawings will be more accurate, and take less time.

Would you like to know more about how leveraging technology can improve your As Built drawings? Click here to read the 5 Most Requested Drawings For Architects.

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Jared Curtis

Written by Jared Curtis

President, Existing Conditions

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