Construction documents include the drawings, building plans, site specs and all other supporting documentation created or accessed during the completion of a construction project. No matter what size the project may be, builders and engineers rely on construction documents to plan and execute each phase of development.
Building plans may consist of a simple artist's rendering that takes up a page or two, or they may be several hundred pages long. Building plans typically include land diagrams along with renderings of the front, side and rear project elevations. Detailed floor plans may include exact placement of all fixtures and a complete listing of all interior and exterior finishes.
Building plans typically include detailed schematics. Schematics may include illustrations and coordinates for locating underground sewer systems and plumbing utilities. Schematics typically include structural details for the project site and notations for the placement of mechanical and electrical systems. If there are special considerations regarding the site itself, such as areas of possible soil erosion or drainage concerns, schematics will highlight these points. Schematics also provide detailed procedures for resolution of these areas.
There are duplicates of the materials list to provide copies to vendors, the construction site foreman and multiple contractors as needed. Often referred to as the spec book, the materials list is a project manual holding valuable information regarding all needed materials and suggested construction methods to complete the job. The spec book may result from the architect's vision, the site engineer's calculations or the site owner's personal preferences. Contractors use it to procure materials at the start of a construction project.
Throughout a building or remodeling project, there may be amendments to the building plans. Changes may occur because of builder or designer preference, alterations in city ordinances or new permitting requirements. As the project acquires new permits and amended building plans, these join all other construction documents and become part of the official record.