Building our Construction Documents

Let us show you our process for measuring buildings and putting them into our CAD system.

Long ago, folks called to ask that we "run a blueprint to make some architecture" for them, or more recently, that we "push the CAD button" to do the same. Of course, educated people know that that's ridiculous, and we hope we were kind in explaining this to those who called with such requests. Factually, it takes many days or weeks to create a design and construction documents (drawings & specs) from which a building is built. The way it's done has changed over time, and we thought we'd share how we set up these drawings nowadays.

As an example, here's a fire repair reconstruction that we recently documented. It's simpler than a full design, but it focuses on what's involved in our drawing production. We still must evaluate what's being rebuilt so that new parts meet building codes, but this is the bare minimum for a set of permit documents.

First, we measure and photograph the building. We take overall measurements in the field, then take extensive photographs with notes as needed.

Next, we return to our office and lay out wall lines as shown, based on our field sketches, notes, and photographs.

Once these drawings are in our system, we “Create Walls” in our BIM software ("Building Information Modeling"), which lets us set wall types & heights, click ok and we have created 3D walls in our software.  We next insert Doors, Windows, and other objects that are attached to the walls. The Chimney is similarly set up as a series of 3-D objects in this particular project. See the drawings here. This can take as long or even longer than the way it was done decades ago, but it provides a great deal more information than ever before.

The next step uses the “Roof Tool” to build the Roof and Eaves.  We add 3D Columns, Steps and Handrails to our model of the house.  Basement walls are laid out on the layer below the Main Floor.

After the model of the building is done we create a 3D Site Base and set the building in it.    

From here, we create permit documents by creating a view of each Plan, Elevation and Cross Section. Cross Sections are drawn by drawing a section line through the plan with the “Section Tool”. Once these views are set up, we add notes and details denoting areas to be constructed and repaired.

Our software allows us to achieve a number of efficiencies. If the model changes, then views of the Plans, Elevations, and Sections can be quickly updated. In the old way of drafting in 2D one would have to update these drawings manually, line by line.

As architects, we specialize in providing design, construction drawings, and contract administration for commercial, multifamily, and single family residential buildings. Our permit expediting services assist builders who restore properties to obtain building permits quickly from local municipalities. Please contact us to see how we may meet your needs.

As a smaller firm, we strive to maintain a lean fee structure, appropriate to diligent delivery of your Projects. We are fully insured, and our Principals, who are directly involved in each project, have over thirty-five years of experience each, plus we have a team of engineering consultants with whom we’ve worked for many years on a number of projects.

We look forward to working with you. We hope you will consider our services.

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