Reading and Interpreting Construction Drawings
Lecture 1 – Introduction / Project Framework
The ability to read Construction Drawings (“blueprints”) accurately is a required skill in the
This course covers Contract Documents (drawings and specifications) for reinforced
concrete, steel, wood frame, and masonry construction, as well as some mechanical and
Topics include: scale, floor plans, elevations, sections, details, symbols, schedules,
specifications, and abbreviations for architectural and engineering drawings.
The objectives of this course are to help you to:
Understand how to navigate a set of Construction Documents including Specifications.
Become familiar with multi- disciplinary documents, including Structural, Mechanical,
Electrical, and Plumbing.
Gain a foundation in plan review exercises, plan checking, estimating, and sketching.
Clarify the differences between the as-built world vs. what something looks like on paper.
What is and isn’t a “Blueprint”?
Who uses them?
Why do we use them?
Reproduction of a technical drawing using a contact print process on light-sensitive
Characterized by light colored lines on a blue background, a negative of the original
Typically printed on paper
Sometimes printed on imitation vellum or polyester film (Mylar)
Document reproduction produced by using the diazo chemical process which results in
blue lines on a white background
Contact printing process which accurately reproduces the original in size, but cannot
reproduce continuous tones or colors
Replaced the blueprint process because the process was simpler and involved fewer
A blueline print is not permanent and will fade if exposed to light for weeks or months
Dry photocopying technique invented by Chester Carlson in 1938
Originally called electrophotography
Later renamed xerography—from the Greek roots ξηρός xeros, "dry" and -γραφία graphia, "writing“
Uses no liquid chemicals
Creates image by distributing an electrostatic charge over a drum
Availability of large-format machines in the 2000s led to abandonment of blueline
Plans (“Plan Review”, “it’s on the plans”)
Definition of Construction Documents
The written and graphic documents prepared or assembled by the A/E for
communicating the design of the project and administering the contract for its
Construction Documents vs. Contract Documents
Two major groups of documents:
Purpose of Construction Documents
Communicate to the owner in detail what the project involves
Establish contractual obligations of owner, contractor and architect
Establish responsibilities of construction manager (CM) and other administering parties
Communicate to the contractor quantities, qualities and relationships
Used by contractor to solicit bids from subcontractors
Basis for obtaining regulatory and financial approvals
Three basic types of information
Legal and contractual (General and Supplementary condition)
Procedural and administrative (Division 1)
Architectural and construction (Construction drawings and specifications)
Phases of a Typical Construction Project
Bidding and Negotiations
Project Life Cycle (CSI)
Project Life Cycle/Roles (CSI)