What is an As-Built Plan?
Because a building sometimes can't quite be built exactly the way it was designed, As-Built plans show the exact way the building is constructed.
As builts should be drawn as the building is constructed, but they really are intended to show how the building was actually put together vs how it was supposed to be put together.
By Douglas Krantz
The owner of the building project is the beginning of the planning process and the end of the planning process.
- Conception Plans - How the building is going to look, as conceived originally by the architect and accepted by the owner
- Bid Plans - Blueprints showing the architect's and engineer's pre-visualization of how a building is going to look
- Submittals - Blueprints showing the contractor's pre-visualization of how a building is going be constructed
- As-Builts - Blueprints showing what was done to make it work, specifying how the building was finally constructed, and this How-the-Building-Was-Really-Constructed --- "As-Built" --- is given back to the owner
The Conception Plans
Before a shovel is put into the ground to dig the foundations, the building is planned.
The owner either has an architect in mind, or has several architects bidding on a general idea of the design. If there are multiple architects, each one conceives of a design.
This conception includes the overall design and shows a general cost of construction for that design. These plans are the original conception plans of the building.
Working with the architect, the engineer creates plans showing details of construction that make the building work.
The engineer specifies the overall structure, the materials that make up the walls, floors, ceilings, the location of electrical outlets, ventilation systems, communication systems, fire alarm systems, etc. Once the engineer is finished, the plans are ready for construction bidding.
Rather than being the final or finished blueprints, the plans become the basis for the contractor and sub-contractors to submit their bids.
These plans are the Bid Plans of the project.
The bid plans show how the completed building will look, but the plans don't show how the contractor constructs the building. Unless the make or model of equipment is specified by the engineer, the plans don't even show exactly what equipment will be used.
To show what is going to be done to make it work, the contractor and sub-contractors make changes to the bid plans, then submit the changed plans, along with the cost of construction, back to the engineers.
These plans are the Submittal Plans for the project.
Once the contractor's bid is accepted by the architect and owner, construction can begin.
The owner will want blueprints showing how the building is constructed. The problem is what was planned never is exactly what was done. In other words, even the submittal plans don't really show what was done.
For the contractor or sub-contractor to make it work:
- Door or wall location, sometimes whole rooms may have to be different from the submitted plans
- Location and positions of equipment or control panels may have to be different from the submitted plans
- Wire layout or ventilation systems may have to be different from the submitted plans
The architect and engineer can't visualize every detail, and once construction is started, often the owner makes changes. To show the details of how a building is constructed, it's up to the contractor and sub-contractors to correct the plans showing what was actually done.
The person on site in charge of construction or installing the system makes corrections to the submittal drawing to create the As-Built drawings.
This is the basis for the final drawings As it was finally constructed or Built, showing:
- The final locations for the walls, doors, window types
- The final location of the wires
- The final locations of the devices
- The final location of the control panels
Plan Conception vs As-Built Completion
- Before the project is started, the owner has to accept the architect's conception of the building project.
- Before the project is bid, the architect has to accept the engineer's practical designs.
- Before the bids are accepted, the contractor and sub-contractors have to submit plans showing what will be done.
- As the project is completed, the contractor and sub-contractors make final corrections to the plans they had originally submitted. These corrected plans are returned up the chain to the owner and become the final As-Built Blueprints of the building.
For each building project, the planning and construction process is different, but this outline shows a general idea.