Why are construction documents important?


About half of the work I do as a Virtual Design Assistant, is AutoCAD drawings for Interior Designers. To most they may not be as exciting as a rendering, but to me, a well drawn set of AutoCAD drawings is eye candy. These two dimensional drawings are where the real magic of a project comes from. It’s where all the details of a projects are noted, and where all the problem solving happens.

Construction documents, also referred to as CD’s or sometimes AutoCAD drawings, are typically composed of an As Built Plan, Demo Plan, Construction Plan, Floorplan, Enlarged Floorplans, Elevations/Details, Lighting/Power Plan, and Reflected Ceiling Plan, also known as an RCP. A full set of CD’s like this are necessary for full renovations. While there are many programs to produce these drawings I’m still using AutoCAD. I’ve been using in for over 20 years, and still love it.

Most projects may not require this amount of detail a full set of AutoCAD drawings would show, however floorplans and elevations are necessary for all kitchen and bath makeovers. These drawings not only allow for you to work through their design process, but they also become a road map for installation.

Why are CD’s important? They are a legally binding contract. I’m not a lawyer, but I do know that a well drawn, and noted set of CD’s not only protects you, but also the homeowner, by providing the trades with a clear understanding of what is expected for that project.

The life of a set of CD’s can be nonlinear. In my experience as a Virtual Design Assistant, the typical process starts with the first draft, which finds it’s way to a job site walk through with a General Contractor. We call this the Red Line phase. In most cases the GC will make notes based on their initial assessment of the job site. A revised set of CD’s will be produced per the GC’s notes. From there other revisions will usually arise due to the change in finishes, or anything unexpected that comes up during demo. I have revised many sets of CD’s where there was a hidden soffit in a wall. While this may seem like a potential road block, the best designs come from challenges.

Kitchen and bath drawings in a set of CD’s, or on their own set of AutoCAD drawings, in the case of a smaller project, are incredibly valuable for a few reasons. The first being, cabinet layout and design. I note on all kitchen and bath drawings that they are design drawings. This means they will go to your custom cabinet maker, or cabinet manufacturer. From there they will site measure and create their own drawings based off of your recommendations. This may seem redundant, but again it clearly conveys your design to these experts. The second reason is for tile. This is were you can note how you want tile installed, and the grout color. Lastly, determining sconce placement, and mirror size can be easily figured out with a bathroom vanity elevation. If you do anything, ALWAYS do an elevation of this wall.

What if I’m just providing furnishings for a space and maybe refreshing a fireplace wall? In this case, a set of CD’s isn’t needed. Nonetheless, accurate floorplans are an industry standard. Again they allow you to work out the best layout, or two, to present to your client. In cases where wall lighting may be added elevations are needed to accurately place junction box’s to fit the design. There’s nothing worse than having them placed too high or low for the design. In the case of refreshing a fireplace wall, an elevation is needed to again note materials, and how they are to be installed.

Sarah, can you do both AutoCAD drawings and renderings for my project? Absolutely, and it just makes sense to do everything in one place. If changes come up, and they do, I can make sure this is reflected in not only your AutoCAD drawings, but also in your renderings.

I hope this has been helpful, if you need help with drawings feel free to reach out.