Library of Congress, working drawing showing brickwork as plans, sections and elevations. Paul F. Pelz.
You’ve probably heard of the term “working drawings in architecture“. But what are they, and how are they different from terms with deceptively similar definitions?
If you’re thinking of starting any construction, architectural or renovation project, it is vital to know these definitions and differences. Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
Working drawings in architecture are part of the construction documentation process and have a long and illustrious history. They are also known as specification plans and working plans. For simplicity, we will refer to them in this article only as working drawings.
These drawings are provided by the architect and give detailed graphical information that is usually used by contractors, suppliers, and manufacturers for construction or fabrication of components. They also include a legend that provides details about the various components.
Working drawings might include drawings such as:
Traditionally, working drawings in architecture were 2D orthogonal projections of buildings or components. They were drafted to an appropriate scale, which was easy to read.
Library of Congress, working drawing showing attic brickwork as plans, sections, and elevations. Paul F. Pelz.
However, today, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is increasingly used to create 3D models of buildings and components. This has many benefits, including allowing various stakeholders to easily collaborate.
A checklist for working drawing details might include (among other details):
Notes for contractor
Ground line & floor lines
Structural elements legend
Label material finishes
Door & window tags
North & relative positioning
Why Are Working Drawings Important?
A working drawing plan helps in understanding the scope of the project. Hence, an accurate execution will help to determine a project’s success.
Here are some of the benefits:
Avoid unnecessary rework costs by constructing the structure properly, installing the right MEP components
Get the license, permit and certificates on time
Develop credibility as a reliable builder, which will lead to greater profits in the long run
Clients know where their money is being invested
Working Drawings vs Submission Drawings
If working drawings are for the contractor and client, submission drawings are for the statutory regulatory body.
Submission drawings, also called permit drawings, are required to receive a building permit. This is needed for building construction to commence.
These drawings contain precise data that helps to ensure that the proposed project complies with regulations (primarily safety). This includes, among other things, a site plan, sub-division plan, elevations, sections, and building service details.
However, unlike with working drawings in architecture, for submission drawings there are specific calculations, the whole set has to be released at once, and they can be modified into working drawings.
Working drawing of Women’s Temple Building, Chicago, Illinois
Working Drawings vs Detail Drawings
The terms ‘working drawing’ and ‘detail drawing’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. While both contain high levels of detail, a detail drawing provides a description of the geometric form of a part of a structure such as a bridge, tunnel, etc.
They tend to be large-scale drawings and may be used to demonstrate compliance with requirements such as regulations, show construction details, provide data about junctions between components, and so on. Such details might not be possible to include in more general drawings.
Detail drawings are also sometimes confused with detailed design drawings, which may describe drawings produced during the detailed design phase. Some, not all, of these drawings are detail drawings. In a similar vein, not all working drawings are detail drawings.
We hops this article has shed some light on working drawings in architecture for you. They form an important part of your architectural construction documents.
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