The Concept of Record Drawings, As Built Drawings and Building Audit

Contract documents prepared by the Architect for use by the Contractor at the construction site is primarily meant to be correct and accurate with all intention and purposes. However, inaccuracies often occur on the Architects drawings prompting the Contractor to mark-up these drawings including the specifications and addenda in red ink as work progresses.

At the completion of the project, the Contractor’s copy of the contract documents with changes that reflect the basis for the Contractor’s work when forwarded to the Architect or the Client/Owner is usually termed “As Built Drawing” by the Contractor. In other words it can mean record of work constructed.

Though the term “As built” is acceptable to the Contractor, it is not a legal terminology suitable for the Design Professional such as Architects. You may ask why? This is due to the legal implication. Therefore, the Project Manager in his risk management should recommend a different language from liability point of view.

It is worth stressing that as built drawings may not necessarily be the same as the physical building, meaning that there can be a disparity between the two. That is why it is safer to use “Record of work constructed”. Another reason for this is that, after work is completed on site and Contractor have handed over his marked documents to the Client/Architect there is greater chance or likelihood for the Client/Owner to make modifications to the building without the knowledge of neither the Architect nor that of the Contractor and without update to the drawings in his possession. Here comes legal issue few years down the road, the Architect or Contractor may be liable in court procedures when he comes forward to present as built drawing rather than record of construction work or record drawings.

Record Drawings
Sometimes the Client can contract the Architect to prepare “Record Drawings”. Normally the Architect will use the original contract documents with known changes to him, Contractors mark-up and field/site data which is all other information collected by the Contractor on site that is not reflected on contract documents (CD), addenda, change orders (CO) and site instruction (SI). A “Record Drawing” as prepared by the Architect is an aggregate of all information and materials available to him to produce updated contract document at completion.

In preparing record drawings it is vital to include a disclaimer for the accuracy of information received from a third party, the Contractor in this case which form part of the record set of drawings.

Measured Drawings
The concept of measured drawings is close to the literal meaning of “As Built” because it involves the actual and physical measurement of the building except for the fact that all the building systems may or may not be shown. This brings us to the concept of building audit that combines site measurement and building systems.

Building Audit
Building audit is an in-depth analysis of a building current condition, capacity to support current and future needs of a building. Typical areas that require audit include but not limited to Structural, Mechanical and Electrical systems and hazardous materials.

An audit may be requested or performed by the Client/Owner for:
• Renovation purposes.
• Property or Asset Management.
• Portfolio Evaluation.
• To maintain or achieve cost effective upgrade.
Other forms of building audit include performance audit. This measures and documents the design and performance of building systems, identifying areas for improvement and enabling energy performance. There are many organizations or bodies that are energy conscious and think green and willing to conduct performance audit to prospective Clients for example Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC).

In order to attain an effective and standardized audit you can consult Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International for measuring guidelines and other standards. For example, for lease purposes BOMA can help on how to determine gross leasable area in buildings which in turn help Owners to calculate rental rates for retail spaces and office spaces.

In general, the three terms discussed above have similarities in their content but different in their function and legal terms. Therefore, you should be aware to use them where appropriate in order to avoid misinterpretation of what your intention is all about. I mean it is important to know your audience.


Olajide Ageh