Products & Solutions
February 27, 2023

9 Types of Construction Documentation Used on Projects

One of the most critical elements of a construction project is documentation. The construction process is very fluid, and depending on the size of the project, can contain hundreds or thousands of changes.

Proper construction documentation protects all parties involved with the process. This can include owners, owner project management firms, tenants, architects, engineers, general contractors, construction management firms, and subcontractors.

In this article, we’ll outline the nine types of documents you’re likely to come across during a construction project. We’ll cover who develops each, what is typically included in each document, and when these documents are used. We’ll also take a closer look at why construction documentation is so important. By the end of this article, you should have a much better understanding of why you need to implement proper documentation practices on your next project.

9 Types of Documents Used on Projects

Below, you’ll find the nine types of documents typically used on construction projects. Not every project has each one of these documents, though construction companies and stakeholders should understand the importance and relevance of all the documents outlined below.

1. Construction Drawings

Construction drawings are typically developed by the architect and engineer. These drawings are the bread and butter of any project. Architectural drawings often include floor plans, ceiling plans, schedules, and construction details for things like millwork and wall assemblies. Engineering drawings often include mechanical drawings, electrical drawings, plumbing drawings, and perhaps tel-data/AV/security drawings.

It’s also important to remember that a set of drawings is required when filing for a building permit. Depending on where you are working and the type of project you are working on, drawings may need to be stamped by your architect and engineer for permit approval from your town or city.

2. Construction Specifications

Construction specifications are just as critical as drawings. Specifications define what is permitted on a project, both in terms of work and workmanship. They are developed by the architect and engineer during design, sometimes with assistance from the owner or client. The specs are used throughout the duration of the job and are especially important when subcontractors submit RFIs and submittals (more on that below).

3. Construction Contract

The construction contract exists between multiple parties. Examples of contracts that you may have on a project include those between:

The components may vary from one project to another, but the contract documents typically included are:

A well-written contract serves to protect all parties on a construction project.

4. Requests for Information

The drawings and specifications are not always perfect, and may even contain conflicting information. Perhaps conditions seen in the field are different than what is shown on plans. In these cases, subcontractors and general contractors will submit requests for information to the design team. 

Doing so allows the design team to provide clarification on issues while also documenting any deviations from the plans. Clarifications often come in the forms of bulletins or addendums, both of which are classified as architectural supplemental information (ASI). An ASI is considered anything that formally amends the contract documents. 

Surveying your site ahead of time with a program like Avvir can help you capture existing conditions and submit RFIs before construction begins. RFIs take time to answer and can slow down a project once construction has begun.

5. Submittals

The design team will often require submittals for all equipment and products being used on the project. For instance, electricians would need to submit on each type of light fixture they are installing, their various power outlets, and any other equipment being installed.

Submittal information is provided by the subcontractors and often sent to the general contractor, who then sends it to the design team for approval. It’s important for information in the submittal to match the plans and specs.

6. Logistics and Safety Plans

Logistic plans are important as they help keep people safe on the job site, informing others of intended activities. For instance, you may keep a site plan that shows the path of egress through your job site. You may also have logistic plans for certain activities, such as a crane pick. Logistic plans are often developed by general contractors with assistance from subcontractors.

Safety plans exist for similar reasons. They can help define what actions to take in case of an emergency. They can also define shutdown plans in case of hazardous or risky events occurring on site, like asbestos abatement.

7. Building Information Modeling 

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is critical to today’s construction projects. Your set of plans from the design team is often in a 2D design. You can use these files to create a working model of your job site. Subcontractors can then draw new systems, allowing them to prefabricate pipe and duct, thereby maximizing efficiency.

Having a quality Building Information Model can help throughout your project. For instance, Avvir can track your install progress against your model to highlight deviations or areas in which you’re falling behind schedule. Avvir does so via photo documentation/live job site documentation, capturing actual photos or point cloud LiDAR scanning of your space at any point in time.

8. As-Built Drawings

As-built drawings show the actual work installed in the field. Typically, each trade is required to provide as-builts of their work in place. One of the easiest ways to capture as-builts is via point cloud LiDAR scanning, which ensures accuracy in your as-built drawings.

As-builts can be used to track schedule progress and billings. But perhaps more importantly, they are required to be turned over to the design team and owner at the end of the job. The end-user’s facilities team will often use these documents once they receive a certificate of occupancy and the project has been turned over.

9. Closeout Documents

Closeout documents are produced by general contractors and subcontractors. This documentation can include:

In today’s fast-paced construction world, closeout is often overlooked. But it is a critical component of the job and is important to help protect all parties years after construction is complete.

The Importance of Construction Documentation

Construction documentation: engineers talking to each other

Construction documentation is important for a few reasons. First and foremost, proper documentation establishes a baseline for the project.

A high-quality set of construction documents — which includes drawings and specifications — makes for an easier construction process. If the general contractor is turned over a set of detailed drawings and well-defined specifications, there is less room for ambiguity when building. This eliminates the need for time-consuming RFIs and rework, thus also keeping costs low. 

Consider a recent survey conducted by ARC Document Solutions, which found that up to one-third of project cost overruns are due to project document difficulties and issues.

Similarly, contracts also establish baselines for the projects. This can include contracts between the:

Contracts should define things like the scope of work, the baseline project schedule, requirements for monthly requisitions, procedures for notice of delay, and other critical information.

Project documentation is also critical because it provides a history of a project. Imagine you are on a three-year project. You may spend two years in ground-up construction, but the first year was spent in design development. When you are in year three of the project, are you going to remember conversations with, say, the structural engineer that took place during the design phase? And what’s to say that the project team doesn’t change over the course of time?

In the fast-paced nature of the construction industry, it’s easy for decisions to be made via phone calls or email correspondence. But formal construction documentation is a best practice that protects all team members who partake in the construction process. Thorough documentation can reduce the risk of overspending, maintain efficiency, and increase the likelihood of a satisfied end user.

Construction Documentation Is a Critical Part of the Building Process

Construction documentation: portrait of a construction site

When it comes to the construction process, documentation is a critical component. Unfortunately, with the fast-paced nature of the industry, it is often overlooked. Proper documentation protects all stakeholders involved with the building process through all stages of the project, from building design to final closeout and turnover.

Fortunately, there are tools available to help aid in proper construction documentation. One such tool is Avvir. Avvir can aid in the reality-capture process, allowing you to capture progress over time via photos and LiDAR point cloud scans. You can use this information to compare things like interior elevations to your BIM model to identify discrepancies in the field.

You can also use the data from Avvir’s job site documentation to pinpoint schedule delays and ensure proper requisitions and billings while also gaining valuable real-time metrics for future estimates. In a nutshell, Avvir is a tool that can help when producing various different types of construction documentation. Request a demo to see how Avvir can aid in your project workflows.

Men showing construction tool to group
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