Getting construction drawings right the first time

by Laurie Spitler on August 18, 2017

When I think back to my years on site as a project engineer, one of my least favorite early jobs (but one of the most important) was managing construction drawings—meaning maintaining a current set of drawings. 

I would go through the same steps over and over again:

  • Receive a set from the architect.
  • Send off to the print shop for paper copies.
  • Slip sheet the master plan set.
  • Send the drawings to subcontractors (and hope that they actually looked at them).

It might not come off as the sexiest task in construction, but managing your construction drawings properly will save a lot of headaches (and possibly backaches as well) both now and down the road.

Reliably managing construction drawings is critical to avoiding rework

The downsides of my old method were brought to heartbreaking reality one day on a fast-paced project. I was walking the job site and noticed that the drywall contractor was building from Bulletin 7, an out-of-date drawing set. 

No big deal you might think—what could have changed in the wall layout in one drawing update? Well, it just so happened that we had spent two weeks coordinating the final location of the walls due to MEP coordination, and then had the architect update the layout in the drawing. Because the drywall contractor was building off the old set, every single wall with in-wall MEP had to be adjusted.

Cloud-based software is a great way to connect the office with the field

I know many construction firms have faced this frustrating situation. Research has shown that about 55% of warranty claims were made because of inaccurate documentation. Evidently, delays in getting the latest information to the field result in more RFIs and less accurate work. 

On the other hand, the right software can provide a single, cloud-based repository for all project documentation, making real-time communication and document exchange between teams and disciplines possible. Imagine for one moment, having exactly the data and files you need, whenever and wherever you need them—whether you're meeting at your client's offices or in the field on an iPad with your team.

The kind of rework that my team and I had to spend days and money correcting did not have to happen at all.  


Don't learn the lesson the hard way

We learned the hard way on my project but, by using cloud-based software, documents and communications can be managed on handheld mobile devices, making it easy for field workers to be continuously in the loop with the office, and get it right the first time.

In short, by using construction document management software to manage our construction drawings, we could have prevented that rework.

  • Store all documents in one place.
  • Stop using multiple systems or processes to distribute documents.
  • Allow project team members to access and download the information that they need, but only what they need.
  • Track whether your team has viewed and downloaded documents.

Imagine the impact of your project engineer or document manager no longer being burdened with a time-consuming, error-prone process for managing incoming documents; the value of your subcontractors always having access to the current set; and the confidence you will gain by knowing—not hoping—that everyone on your team is truly building from the same page. You'll be able to spend a lot less time on administrative work, and a lot more time monitoring quality and solving problems.

Here is a look at how easy it is to set up a construction drawing workflow with BIM 360 Docs:

For construction firms using the tool, it has served as the single source of truth where all the drawings and files are stored. This includes current and past versions of construction drawings. Knowing that you have all the most up-to-date (and all past versions of) drawings at your fingertips, and in one place, is a huge efficiency booster.

When used in projects, the tool has helped construction firms coordinate better, resolve issues faster, and allowed for more efficient project delivery with fewer delays, lower costs, and, happily for you and me, reduced construction rework.

Ready to improve your process for managing your construction drawings? 

Get BIM 360 Docs for free

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