Everything to Know About As-Built Drawings (And How Digital Twins Simplify The Process)

As-Built Drawings Made Easy With Digital Twins

As the saying goes, the best-laid construction management plans can quickly go sideways. While your team can spend countless hours designing a structure or planning out a renovation, it only takes a single day for unexpected challenges to result in as-designed and as-built being two very different things. Accurate as-built drawings can ensure this story is told properly, challenges and all, and save you a world of confusion down the road.

Unfortunately, as-built drawings aren’t always given the treatment they deserve. From communication issues to outdated tech, a number of challenges can result in sloppy or incomplete as-built drawings during the construction process.

Whether you’re tackling a renovation or building a site from scratch, accurate as-built drawings will not only benefit you in a number of ways, they’re also easy to put together.

What are as-built drawings?

As-built drawings, or red-line drawings, are part of as-built documentation, and illustrate a structure exactly as it was built, not as it was designed. If there were any changes from the original plan during the build, as-built drawings should capture these design changes. Ideally, as-built drawings and as-built documentation will also contain detailed logs of why changes were made, with supplemental notes.

Before drafting up finalized as-built drawings, an as-built survey is usually conducted. During this process, the contractor or architect will conduct an in-depth condition survey and note the locations of utilities, heights and measurements of surfaces, and more. The surveyor will also note any deviations from the blueprints or building plans, versus the existing conditions of the structure.

Ultimately, anyone looking at as-built drawings should be able to understand the specifications of the structure or site, and why any changes were made.

6 things to include in every as-built drawing

As-built drawings are only helpful if they include the necessary real-time information. Keep in mind as-built drawings and as-built documentation are used for record-keeping, as well as informing future renovations and maintenance. 

By including the following information, you’re ensuring your final as-built drawings are as useful as possible, no matter who looks at them.

  • Original design: As-built drawings should capture the original specifications and offer a comparison point between as-built vs. design.

  • Changes: Any changes that occur during construction, including modifications and additions, should be detailed in as-built drawings.

  • Dimensions: As-built drawings should contain the exact dimensions of the space, as these are essential for future renovations, maintenance, and record-keeping.

  • Material specs: Include details about all materials used in the building project, including the type of material, manufacturer, level of quality, etc.

  • Location info: Detail the positioning of as many elements as possible, including HVAC systems, load-bearing beams or structures, utilities, and so on.

  • Photographs: Include photos of the completed project, as well as relevant photos documenting any changes made.

Less isn’t more with as-built drawings. When in doubt, include notes and details about changes, materials, and so on. The last thing you want is uncertainty or questions about why specific revisions were made, years after the fact, when the information is no longer fresh in your mind.

Remember: As-built drawings are only helpful if they contain accurate and complete information.

Who is responsible for as-built drawings?

The person responsible for as-built drawings largely depends on the reason for needing the drawings, and the type of construction occurring. When a new structure is built, it’s usually the architect or designer completing as-built drawings. If the project is a renovation, it is often a general contractor or architect, depending on the scope of the renovation.

Regardless of who creates the documentation, as-built drawings provide a number of benefits for all construction-related roles.

  • Architects: As-built drawings act as a reference point for future projects, allowing architects to approach future renovations and similar projects with more insight.

  • Designers: Incomplete information can limit design and even compromise safety. As-built drawings give designers precise measurements and specifications, helping them make informed decisions without limiting design.

  • Contractors: With as-built drawings available before work begins, contractors can properly plan for a project and anticipate potential challenges ahead of time. This also allows contractors to purchase the right materials ahead of time and even prevent safety issues.

  • Building owners/managers: As-built drawings enable building managers to get a more detailed look at their structure, predict maintenance needs and budgets, and make more informed purchasing and selling decisions.

While proper as-built drawings can deliver numerous role-specific benefits, they also play a larger role across construction.

The importance of as-built drawings

Few places are as busy and hectic as a construction site, especially larger projects involving dispersed teams. Regardless of one’s role in a construction project, as-built drawings are important for a number of reasons.

Managing and maintaining the portfolio more effectively

If you manage multiple properties, as-built drawings are invaluable for a number of reasons.

As-built drawings provide you with detailed records of each building, allowing you to plan maintenance and maintenance budgets for each site. 

The details provided by as-built drawings also allow you to stay on top of the value of each building. This is great for both estimating your portfolio's worth, and for determining insurance coverage amounts. These details can also help you determine where investments can have the greatest return, what your annual costs could look like, and which structures pose the greatest risk.

Accurate and detailed record-keeping

Simply put, as-built drawings are an incredibly accurate and detailed record of a project. This comes with various benefits, from helping diagnose maintenance issues to serving as proof of a project to assisting with buying or selling and beyond.

Creating references for maintenance and repair work

A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to building maintenance and repairs. As-built drawings can help you diagnose issues, predict problems, and more efficiently fix issues as they arise.

Say you’re having issues with power in a room. Without as-built drawings, you’re left with original drawings (if any at all), which show where the utility box should be, but don’t capture last-minute wiring changes that occurred. With accurate as-built drawings, you can quickly see these changes, whereas as-designed docs would leave your maintenance team hunting.

Using it as a starting point to plan and execute renovations

Much like maintenance, renovations are largely reliant on having up-to-date information. As-built drawings provide clarity on which materials were used, where load-bearing supports are located, and more. All of this can help you plan and execute renovations with ease, reducing the likelihood you run into unexpected challenges on the way.

For example, say you’re wanting to add new wall-mounted storage to a room. If sub-par materials were swapped in during the original build and not documented, you could wind up damaging the walls and the new storage. Accurate as-built drawings would prevent exactly this kind of mess.

Helping stakeholders understand modifications

Project stakeholders aren’t always on the ground during a build, so unplanned changes can come as a nasty surprise.

As-built drawings, complete with notes, can help stakeholders understand any unplanned changes. This understanding can reduce friction between crew and stakeholders, and again, act as proof that you still built everything up to standards.

Using as a reference point for communication and collaboration

Communication and collaboration are essential in the construction industry. If an unplanned change occurs one day on the worksite, and different crews are working the next day — planned or unplanned, as-built drawings keep everyone in the loop.

The same is true for distributed teams and those managing multiple worksites. By maintaining as-built drawings as accessible as possible, you’re ensuring all team members and stakeholders are on the same page, no matter their location or the changes that occur.

Mitigating risks associated with inaccuracies

Inaccurate information can result in minor and catastrophic risks in construction. By keeping accurate as-built drawings, you’re ensuring everyone is equipped with the information they need to do their job — whether that’s managing a building, handling maintenance, determining how to safely renovate a structure, etc.

Helping with government compliance

States and countries can have various mandates for structures. These mandates can impact new builds, as well as renovations, especially major ones. Typically you need to get clearance before breaking ground, but also provide proof the project was completed in compliance with mandates after the fact. As-built drawings are great supplemental documentation to include and show you made any changes in compliance with all mandates.

Solving 3 major as-built drawing challenges

While as-built drawings exist to provide information and make projects easier, this is only true when they’re completed as fully as possible. Overcome the following as-built drawing challenges to ensure you’re equipping your team with all the information possible.

Incomplete documentation

If you’re creating as-built drawings, make sure you’re collecting all the information you can. Ideally, you’ll be able to get this information on the site and from the source. This can entail measuring spaces and interviewing specialists who handled various aspects of the project.

If you can’t find the person you need or secure the information, make a note of this and set a reminder to follow up as soon as possible.

Lack of coordination

Poor coordination between various teams can result in communication errors, inaccurate information, and failure to capture a high level of detail. Avoid this by setting up communication protocols. Utilize digital communication channels, like instant messaging or video chat, to ensure your teams can quickly share information. Implement best practices and stakeholders for various processes as well to make sure people communicate the right info to the right people anytime a milestone is reached.

Outdated technology

Outdated construction technology can result in a number of issues when creating as-built drawings. Manual measurements can be inaccurate and time-consuming, paper record keeping makes collaboration difficult and increases the likelihood of using outdated info, and a lack of communication tools makes it hard to collaborate.

Avoid this by using modern solutions for old problems. For example, Measurement mode in a Matterport digital twin allows any viewer to get measurements of Matterport scans anywhere, from any device. These scans are quick and easy for anyone to take, meaning you can even get updated measurements each day. Meanwhile, instant messaging and video chat functionalities make comms easier, while digital record-keeping helps you utilize the latest files without the risk of easily losing records.

How Matterport improves the as-built drawings process

As-built drawings are only helpful when they’re accurate and complete, which can be a tedious manual process to get right. According to David Kuoppamaki, owner of Kuop Design, using Matterport’s digital twins significantly reduces the need for manual measurements by 80%, cuts drawing times by 50%, eliminates the need for manual photography, and manages to improve their bid accuracy.

The Matterport Pro 3D Camera is a quick and easy way to capture both spatial and photographic data of a property within minutes. It is notably less expensive than traditional LIDAR scans, costing only about 10% of LIDAR's price and simplifies workflows considerably.

 In this video, Kuop Designs walks through their workflow:

Additional features such as Measurement mode and Matterport Notes tagged in the virtual space itself improve collaboration by providing context on each space.

Matterport digital twins can also be converted into both BIM (building information modeling) and e57 files. With the e57 file, you get access to a point cloud that’s rich with detail. Thanks to the Procore and Autodesk integrations, you can then turn your Matterport scans into as-built drawings with ease. These features make it easy for distributed teams and multi-site groups to collaborate by ensuring that everyone can get the information they need for accurate as-built drawings.

Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture has managed to streamline workflows and increase their firm’s efficiency by using Matterport’s digital twins and colorized point clouds to create Revit models. This has saved them countless hours on renovation work, and enabled them to see further gains in net new builds. Bayer Crop Science similarly saves 75% of their engineering project planning costs thanks to the as-built drawings and BIM files that their Matterport digital twin provides. 

As-built drawings can benefit your team, no matter their role, in a number of ways. Take the manual guesswork out of as-built drawings using Matterport and see how you can give everyone the information they need, when they need it.


  • Tips & Tricks
  • Build
  • Architect/Engineer/Construct
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

As-built drawings FAQs