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What are As-Built Drawings?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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As-built drawings are the final set of drawings produced at the completion of a construction project. They include all the changes that have been made to the original construction drawings, including notes, modifications, and any other information that the builder decides should be included. While the original drawings are typically produced using computer-aided design (CAD) software, the as-built drawings usually contain handwritten notes, sketches, and changes.

To understand how as-built drawings are created, it is helpful to understand the process of developing construction drawings. The owner or developer of a project will hire an architect or engineer to design the proposed building. These design professionals will use the owner's ideas and requirements to create construction drawings for the project. Once the owner has approved these plans, they are submitted to the local permitting agency to obtain building permits. This final set of plans is often known as the "permit set" or "100 percent construction drawings."

As the builder begins work on the project, he will use the construction drawings to lay out walls, install ductwork, run electrical wiring, and construct the remainder of the building. During this process he may run across unforeseen conditions that require items to be installed differently than they are shown on the plans. For simple changes, he will often simply work the problem out himself and note the changes on his set of building plans. With more significant problems, however, the builder must contact the architect or owner for direction.

The builder will typically send an explanation of the issue in the form of a Request for Information (RFI). When the architect or owner responds, he or she may send a sketch, a full drawing, or simply a written directive. The builder will make use this response to address the problem, and will also include the changes on his as-built drawings. Throughout the project, the owner may also issue other formal change requests to the construction documents. The builder will also include these changes on the as-built drawings as a record of the owner's requests.

On larger projects, all major contractors and subcontractors may maintain their own set of as-built drawings. This allows the electrician, plumber, drywall contractor, and other professionals to make changes without holding up the job to track down a single set of plans. At the end of the project, all sets of as-builts are combined into a single comprehensive set for delivery to the project owner. Most construction contracts include a requirement for as-built drawings, but it is good practice to provide these plans even when they are not required.

As-built drawings serve several important functions. They can inform the owner of locations for wiring, plumbing, and other hidden components to make repairs and maintenance easier. They are also helpful for future renovations, and can be used as a base when creating remodeling plans at a later date. The local government or permitting agency may also require a copy of the as-builts to show locations of sprinkler pipes, fire alarms, and other safety devices.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon275062 — On Jun 15, 2012

I am a Civil/Structural Engineer from the Philippines and have been affected by the as built plan requirement. We are subsequently removing as builts from our post as design engineers when our local building officials accepted the as built plan and for occupancy use prepared by other professionals.

I just want to know the limitations of our services when an as built plan signed by other professionals can be used for occupancy. Is this the correct procedure of handling an as built plan?

Does the building official have the right to reject our services as requested by the owner?

By anon209584 — On Aug 27, 2011

Contractually wise, what is the time limit within the contractor is obliged to submit the as built DWGs? --pwwb

By anon146790 — On Jan 27, 2011

I just started a job as an administrative assistant in a Mechanical, Electrical and Environmental Engineering firm. I have never worked in this environment before and am not sure of all the terms, but am eager to learn so as to be proficient in my position. I found this website very helpful when I was asking what "as-built" drawings are. I was pleased to see it went through more of the process. Thanks.

By faithstewart — On Jan 26, 2011

I am sure that the drafting design career field had changed greatly over the past few years as computers have become so efficient in process. It is nice to know that some still like to actually build the models rather than leave it all to a computer.

By widget2010 — On Jan 18, 2011

Design drawings are also a big part of set construction in theatre design, though in those cases the final draft is usually an as-built, to-scale model; shop drawings are valuable as well, but many directors and stage managers prefer to see some sort of 3 dimensional format of the idea before it is created; while some computer can do this, many designers prefer to build a model.

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