Drawings in an architect's toolbox
As an architect, we as a profession produce many kinds of drawings for clients throughout the entire project. From concept renderings to finished details, we are charged with conveying information to the appropriate viewer. As a homeowner, you may have heard the terms ‘permit set’ or ‘construction set’ being thrown around, but what do these terms really mean? We give a brief breakdown of the different types of drawings that an architect can produce for you.
Hiring an architect in the early stages of your project is often the best way to get the most out of your space. They will take into account all the features and scope required for the space and produce two dimensional or three-dimensional drawings of what that finished space may look like. You get a window into the future and can plan around that. The architect may refer to drawings in this phase as ‘schematic design’ or ‘pre-design’
· 2-D drawings: Floor plans, interior elevations, exterior elevations, planning diagrams, landscape plans
· 3-D drawings: Interior perspectives, exterior perspectives, computer generated finished renderings, hand drawn renderings
All of these are visual tools that serve to help the client see a finished outline of what the space or building may look like.
The next stage of drawings that an architect produces serve the purpose of conveying information to the appropriate parties. The designs that were produced in the first phase are developed into working drawings with dimensions, details, and notes. These types are necessary for most any project to go forward. Drawings in this phase are usually referred to a phase known as ‘design development’ and ‘construction documents’
· Bid set: This set of drawings is basically the bare minimum amount of information in order to have a construction estimator bid for pricing the project. It will have at the very least, dimensions of the space, quantities of different components (cabinets, toilets, etc.) and the materials to be used. Pieces of information that are missing on this set must be assumed by the estimator, usually at a higher price, so the more complete the set the better in this case.
· Permit set: A set of drawings necessary to get a building permit for a project. Another case where this is the bare minimum amount of information to get the required ‘checklist’ completed from the local jurisdiction or plan checker. This set may or may not have more information than a bid set, depending on how the architect produces the drawings. At the very least it will have information related to life safety, building size and shape, wall types, minor details, and any code related information. Depending on the scope, minimal engineering drawings showing lighting levels, ventilation, or others may be needed.
· Construction set: This is the final and most complete set of technical drawings that an architect produces for a project. Whereas the bid set or permit set might be 50% complete, the construction set is going to be 100% complete by the end of the project. (With addendum and other sketches) This set will have close to every detail accounted for to tell the builder how and what to put together. You will find complete wall sections, flashing details, door schedules, window schedules with manufactures listed, finished carpentry and millwork details and elevations, building sections, plan details, finish floor plans, lighting plans, and any other information that relates to the final building. Engineers’ and consultants’ drawings will also accompany this set, with the finished landscape, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical sheets. Along with this set of drawing are what is called specifications, which are the written description of each and every component that goes into the building, along with necessary installation techniques.
With these technical drawings, the architect is getting the information across in a visual way, and the more information that is drawn results in less problems down the road.
In some instances, an owner needs drawings produced for record keeping or for sometimes retroactively approving a past construction project. In this case the architect will measure and document the existing building and give the drawings to the owner as ‘as-built drawings.’ These are a lot of times different than their construction set counterparts, because during construction many small details get changed on the fly to account for budget, time, or something else entirely.
As you can see, there are many ways in which an architect can be employed to create drawings for your project. Some pieces are necessary for legality, and some should not be overlooked in the planning stages. The best thing to do is contact a few different architects and ask how they can help your project along, whichever stage you are in.