Use and Misuse of As-Built Drawings, Record Drawings and Measured Drawings in AIA Contracts

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March 23, 2022
Author: Lorman Education

The American Institute of Architects, or the AIA, is a specialized institute for architects in the United States of America. The AIA carries out many functions, including offering advanced education, community re-development, government advocacy, and public outreach to promote and sustain architecture.

It has its headquarters in Washington D.C. and basically regulates and standardizes the building industry. All architectural standards in the States are derived from here, though it isn't the formal standard. We will look at three norms of drawings in architecture, being as-built drawings, record drawings and measured drawings as defined by AIA standards.

The meanings of as-built drawings, record drawings and measured drawings are subject to much confusion, despite regulatory efforts. The concepts have been misused and misapplied. The following descriptions are as per proper AIA contract standards.

As-Built Drawings

As-built drawings are typically prepared by the contractor. They are more like interpolations done for construction purposes. On the original construction documents and drawings, the as-built changes are made by the contractor in red ink. Therefore the changes that the contractor makes onto the original design are called as-built drawings.

The use of the term as-built drawings may risk liability, as the final design varies from the original design. The contractor might make practical changes, but not necessarily changes that are in compliance with safety standards. The term ‘as-built drawing’ is misused by some contractors to validate their own changes, which are sometimes not suited to the design.

Record Drawings

These types of drawings make necessary space for the contractor's changes. A record drawing is the final compiled drawing prepared by the architect himself/herself. These drawings mark the notes of the on-site changes that the contractor makes in the as-built drawings. They are usually drawn and compiled as an ‘architect approved’ set of on-site changes made specifically for the owner as per the architect-owner contract.

Record drawings are more reliable than as-built drawings because they have gone through the screening of the architect and are approved by him/her. These changes are then officially released, and they can be relied upon, and even help the owner against the architect in case of future inconsistencies.

Measured Drawings

These drawings apply in the context of projects that involve already existing buildings. They are prepared during the process of undertaking a renovation or documentation of an already existing building. They are derived from the measurements taken of a standing building. These measurements and drawings are created from on-site project data.

These are the proper definitions of as-built, measured and record drawings as per AIA standards. Despite the existence of regulated standards, these terms are misused. As-built drawings are primarily contractor based, record drawings are approved and testified by the architect as per the owner's requirements and measured drawings are based on fresh projects on already standing buildings.

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