Construction Documents: Types of Construction Drawings


Construction projects come in all shapes and sizes, but all must be measured. This is why a project has many construction documents. Building a structure is a complicated job and every aspect of it requires construction drawings to plan on paper before the build begins.

The importance of construction documents and construction drawings cannot be understated. They set up the project for success by detailing everything from the site to the design and even the project administration. But what exactly are construction documents and what types of construction drawings are there?

What Are Construction Documents?

Construction documents are legally binding contracts that define the roles, responsibilities and work by which the construction project will be completed. There isn’t just one type of construction document and they come in many types. Construction documents can be written, graphical and pictorial.

In a sense, construction documents are like puzzle pieces that make up a bigger picture of the project’s design, location and physical characteristics. You can’t pull building permits without the right documents, and you can’t legally build anything without permits. This gives you an idea of the importance of construction documents.

ProjectManager is construction project management software with unlimited file storage. Our software can be accessed in the office, on the job site and even remotely so everyone on the project can share the construction documents and drawings from one centralized hub. If you need to make changes, everyone is updated to keep them on the same page. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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What Are the Components of Construction Documentation?

There are many components to construction documents. You’ll find contracts and conditions between all parties involved in the project. These contracts often have a guaranteed maximum price (GMP), time and materials, lump sum, cost-plus and unit price. Whatever type of construction delivery method you use, it should be detailed to avoid mistakes and delays.

Most construction documents outline how change orders will be processed, how payment is approved, notice requirements on the job site, dispute resolution and suspension and termination procedures. These documents also outline the techniques used, quality standards, acceptable materials and quality testing for compliance.

Construction drawings are also part of the paperwork. They can be simple or complex and cover everything from codes, safety plans and sustainability standards to civil engineering, landscape architecture, structural and architectural drawings, as well as plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems.

In terms of schedules, there are usually two types; the construction schedule has the project timeline, budget and milestones that are tracked and adjusted as needed. The other is a schedule of values provided by the contractor and lists work items from start to finish.

Construction specifications are made by the architect or the engineer and approved by the client before the construction company executes. Accurate, organized documents are key to delivering a successful project.

Types of Construction Documents

You need construction documents to pull permits for your work and have a legally compliant job site. Most construction projects have two identical sets of construction documents, one for permitting and the other for construction. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on the construction set of documents. The following are the types of construction documents found in construction project management.

1. A0 Sheets

A0 sheets, also known as project information, have a cover sheet that summarizes the project information such as names, contact information, property details, zone use, building type, city pin number, site map, regulations, etc.

There’s also the accessibility notes and details sheet which includes door width and sizes and location of signage among other things (though not included for residential projects). The site plan shows the building as it sits on the property, landscaping, concrete work and exit safety requirements. A more detailed landscape plan is sometimes included.

2. A1 Sheets

A1 sheets are known as demolition plans and are used to show the existing building preconstruction. It notes what will be removed and what will be preserved in order to begin construction.

3. A2 Sheets

A2 sheets are floor plans that show where every element of the building will be located and includes detailed dimensions for these elements. There are also keynotes, door, window and wall type tags as well as other call-outs.

4. A3 Sheets

A3 sheets deal with elevations and sections. Elevations are the flat image of the outside faces of buildings. They show the height of the existing and new building elements as well as the materials that’ll be used or persevered from existing elements. There are keynotes that add other important information about the construction of the exterior.

Section drawings are cut-section drawings through the center of the building. They show wall and foundation construction, floor-to-floor heights and the height relationships between the inside and the ground plane outside.

Related: Free Construction Schedule Template

5. A4 Sheets

A4 sheets are the finished plans. The main one is the reflected ceiling plan which shows the view up to the ceiling rather than down to the floor. These include ceiling material types such as drywall, plaster, wood cladding, etc. They often include the light switch locations to control the ceiling-mounted lights.

In residential construction projects, there’s also a power plan that locates the outlets and data points for cable TV or internet access. It shows the power location for appliances and personal devices. Larger projects have these details noted in the electrical plans.

The finished plans also include what materials will be applied to the walls and floors. This is done with finished tags that refer to a finish schedule (details further down the list) which show manufacturer, product names and other qualities.

6. A5 Sheets

A5 sheets are about interior elevations. These show the flat views of the vertical surfaces such as interior walls. They show the types of walls, built-in furniture, where the power outlets will be, lights and switches as well as the height of different elements. These differ from residential and commercial spaces, but both need interior elevations charted.

7. A6 Sheets

A6 sheets are schedules and wall types. Schedule in this case means a spreadsheet rather than a timeline. They’re used to keep track of various detailed product information concerning finishes, types, sizes and so forth.

8. S Sheets

S sheets are structural drawings, which are standard throughout the building. The drawings are done by a licensed structural engineer and show the plan for each level, such as concrete footing, steel and wood framing and where and what size they will be, as well as any other structural details.

9. M Sheets

M sheets are the mechanical drawings for the project, such as the electrical and plumbing systems. They’re usually delivered by the engineer who provided the S sheets. These drawings show where the electrical and plumbing systems will go and what sizes they’ll be, including ductwork and types of air handling systems used.

Related: 8 Free Excel Templates for Construction Management

10. P Sheets

P sheets are plumbing drawings that detail the pipe sizes that’ll be used in the system for both waste and potable water. There are also locations of vent risers to release sewage air out of the building safely.

11. E Sheets

E sheets are directed towards details in the electrical drawings. They have locations of outlets for all power in the building, including the switches that control them. They detail what type of wiring is required and the boxes to handle the electrical equipment.

ProjectManager Helps Manage Construction Documentation

As you can see, those are many documents to manage. Project management software can help you organize these documents and make them accessible to those who need them during the execution of the project. ProjectManager has unlimited file storage and is online to offer everyone access to the files they need whenever and wherever they work. But our construction project management software is more than a document organizer.

Use Multiple Project Views

The ability to share files is great, but if you’re not able to execute that work, you’re going to have to seek out other tools. That makes things complicated. We keep it simple. Our multiple project views mean that construction project managers can plan on Gantt charts, designers can visualize workflow on kanban boards, crews can check off tasks on our list view and stakeholders can make sure milestones are met on the calendar view.

Construction Gantt chart
Connect Everyone On the Project

Other problems occur if everyone is working from construction documents in a silo. If teams can’t collaborate effectively, issues will arise that result in delays and extra costs. Our online software takes care of that. As noted, files can be shared and users can comment on tasks and tag anyone in the project to bring them into the conversation as needed. Emails notify users of changes to the plan or comments, but there are also in-app alerts so you don’t have to leave the tool.

ProjectManager's task card with comment

Our software is a great construction project management tool that is a centralized hub for your construction documents and drawings, but we also give you features that help you plan, monitor and report on the project. Get a high-level view with our real-time dashboard to keep on track. Then use customized reports to keep your stakeholders updated. We’ll help you manage expectations and deliver success.

ProjectManager is award-winning software that organizes and stores all your construction documents and construction drawings. Our collaborative platform connects everyone on the project team and lets them work with the tools they want. Plan, monitor and report on every aspect of the construction project. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

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