Construction documentation encompasses the preparation of drawings and specifications that set forth the detailed requirements for the construction of a building project. Drawings thus represent the illustrative dimension of construction documentation, while specifications represent the written. The two are complementary, with neither having precedence over the other. This includes a detailed discussion of the methods and procedures used in preparing drawings and specifications.

Within the context of design and construction documentation, design represents an expression of the desired solution, while construction drawings control—to the extent possible—the eventual physical outcome of that expression. To achieve this, construction drawings depict the components of the intended building design in such a way that construction personnel can clearly understand what results are desired.

Although construction drawings for a given building project are normally done by the firm that provides the design services, there are exceptions to the same firm doing both. For example, two firms may team to take advantage of their respective capabilities. One may take responsibility for design—possibly up through design development. The other might have responsibility for the construction documents along with services for construction procurement and construction contract administration. In other instances, a commercial enterprise may seek documentation services when one of their prototypical facilities must be adapted to a specific site.

In the above scenarios, the documentation may be carried out under separate owner-architect contracts, depending on the project’s contractual arrangement. In either case, when design and construction documentation services are carried out by different firms, ensuring that the design intent is adequately interpreted within the construction documentation can become a greater challenge.

Several current and emerging factors affect construction drawings. Foremost are the benefits offered by state-of-the-art computer-assisted design and drafting (CADD) programs, which make it possible to create complex documents faster, to easily delineate repetitive elements, and to readily manipulate data and information to make changes. Also, the power of emerging software is allowing for greater integration between separate software applications.