Construction Documents

Construction Documents are drawings and written documents used for the following:

    1. Bidding
    2. Contract preparation
    3. Construction
    4. Building permit
    5. Appraising and financing the project

Construction Documents are also called "Contract Documents," or during the bidding phase they are called "Bid Documents." "Contract documents" are the drawings and written documents which form the legal agreement between the Owner and the Contractor.

    Items which make up the construction (contract) documents:

    1. Drawings

    2. Specifications

    3. General Conditions of the Contract for Construction (AIA Standard document A201)

    Click here for AIA A201 General Conditions form

    4. Supplementary Conditions (written specifically for the project)

    5. Special Conditions

    6. Agreement between Owner and Contractor (AIA Standard document A101)

    Click here for an example of AIA A101 form

    7. Addenda (changes made before Owner and Contractor sign an Agreement)

    8. Change Orders (changes made after Owner and Contractor sign an Agreement)


Who may prepare contract documents:

    1. Architects:

    In Illinois, and most other states, Architects are required to prepare all documents for construction of all new buildings for human occupancy except for single family and 2-family dwellings and all remodeling of buildings where structural changes will be made or where life safety issues are involved.

    2. Structural Engineers:

    In Illinois, and most other states, Structural Engineers may prepare contract documents for a "structure" where such structure is not used for human occupancy.

    3. "Spec Writers:"

    Spec Writers prepare descriptions of work to be done for housing rehab.

    This type of work does not usually fall under architectural act, because it is not usually the type of work where bearing walls are removed or life safety changes are made.

    4. Owners:

    In Illinois, and most other states, Owners of a property may prepare drawings for single family and two-family dwellings.

    5. Interior Designers

    Interior Designers may prepare contract documents for interior changes to buildings which do not involve structural or life safety changes. For example, they may prepare drawings that locate non-structural and movable partitions and furniture. In Illinois and many other states, an Interior Designer must be registered by the state to use the title "Interior Designer."

    6. Interior Decorators

    Interior Decorators usually are limited by the scope of their education and experience to preparing contract documents for "decorating" work, which includes, painting walls and ceilings, installation of floor coverings, furniture installation, draperies and blinds.

    7. Space Planners/Facilities Managers

    Space Planners and Facilities Managers work as Interior Designers in commercial office buildings. They may prepare contract documents for moving or installing non-structural partitions and furniture.

    8. Landscape Architects

    Landscape architects prepare contract documents for exterior planting, sidewalks, patios and exterior furniture. In Illinois and many other states, a Landscape Architect must be registered by the state to use the title "Landscape Architect."

    9. Contractors

    Contractors or their sub-contractors are permited in most states to prepare "shop drawings" for certain construction items such as toilet partitions, ductwork, millwork (built-in furniture), metal stairs and handrails. "Shop drawings" and are used by the sub-contractor to build the specialty item in their shop. The contractor will need to have a structural engineer review and seal and sign the drawings if they the element is structural in nature, such as metal stairs.

    10. Material Suppliers or Fabricators

    Material Suppliers and Fabricators are permited in most states to prepare "shop drawings" for certain prefabricated items such as connections of steel framing or wood trusses. They will need to have a structural engineer review and seal and sign the drawings.


What are "Scope" documents?

    They are used in "fast track" projects

    They are a basis for the contractor's "Guaranteed Maximum Price" (GMP)

    They continue to be completed while the project is being built

    Ultimately they become complete contract documents before the project is completely built


Preparation Concerns

    Need for accuracy and completeness

    Legal liabilities of person who prepares contract documents

    Length of time typically required to prepare them

    Quality assurance issues in preparation and in use



    Assignment of responsibility for errors and ommissions

    Design changes during construction

    Construction related

    Owner request

    Required to make the design work

The use of contractor's proposal as contract documents is not recommended

The use of contract documents in monitoring the Work during construction

Perfection of performance under contract documents

    Architects, engineers and designers are considere as "Agents" of the Owner under the law and are held to a "reasonable" standard of perfection in performance of the preparation of the construction documents

    Contractors are considerd "Vendors" under the law and are held to a high standard of perfection in performance of the construction



    All drawings must be assigned a sheet number. The sheet number should appear in the lower right corner of the drawing.

    The first letter of a sheet number indicates the discipline name. Immediately after this is a three-digit number indicating the type of drawing and its sequence in the set. Thus, a typical drawing sheet number would look like this: A101. This would be the first architectural plan, usually the site plan or the basement floor plan. Sheets should be numbered consecutively within a series from 01 to 99.

    Sheets are bound into “sets” and should be organized in the following sequence of disciplines:

    C = Civil
    L = Landscape
    A = Architectural
    S = Structural
    M = Mechanical
    P = Plumbing
    Q=Equipment (freezers, refrigerators, etc.: premanufactured items that are built-in and need to be connected to water, sewer, electrictity or gas)
    F = Fire Protection (fire sprinklers, standpipes, fire extinguishers)
    E = Electrical (power and lighting)
    T = Telecommunications (telephone, CCTV, cable, wired computer network, intercom, sound, and security)
    I = Interior Furnishings

    Drawings within a discipline shall be numbered sequentially with three-digit numbers according with the following system:

    100 series: site plans, floor plans, and reflected ceiling plans, selective demolition plans – starting with A101, which is usually the site plan.

    200 series: exterior elevations – starting with A201

    300 series: building sections – starting with A301

    400 series: large scale "blown up" plans, elevations and wall sections – starting with A401

    500 series: details and interior elevations – starting with A501

    600 series: schedules (such as room finish schedule, door schedule, window schedule) and diagrams (plumbing riser diagrams, single line electrical diagram) - on small projects, schedules and diagrams can be included on the plan sheets - starting with A601


Project Manual

    Click here for an example of a Project Manual

    The "Project Manual" is a bound written document that forms part of the Contract Documents and includes the following:

    Index of Documents
    List of Drawings
    Invitation to Bid
    Instructions to Bidders

    General Conditions (AIA A201),includes the following sections:

    Owner's responsibilities
    Owner's Right to stop work
    Contractor's responsibilities
    Review of Contract Documents and Field Conditions
    Labor and Materials
    Construction Schedules
    Documents and Samples
    Cutting and Patching
    Cleaning up
    Architect's Responsibilities
    Administration of the Contract
    Claims and disputes
    Law suit
    Construction by Owner
    Partial Occupancy and Use
    Final Completion
    Insurance and Bonds
    Correction of the Work

    Supplementary Conditions


    Bid Form

    Click here for an example of a Bid Form

    Form of Contract (AIA A101)

    Click here for an example of AIA A101 form


    Certificate of Insurance

    Click here for an example of a Certificate of Insurance

    Technical Specifications

    Click here for an example of a specification section

    Specifications are organized by the "CSI" (Construction Specifications Institute) MasterFormat system as follows:

    Division 1: General Requirements
    Division 2: Existing Conditions
    Division 3: Concrete
    Division 4: Masonry
    Division 5: Metals
    Division 6: Wood, Plastics and Composites
    Division 7: Thermal and Moisture Protection
    Division 8: Openings
    Division 9: Finishes (interior finishes)
    Division 10: Specialties (for example, signs, toilet accessories)
    Division 11: Equipment (for example, kitchen equipment)
    Division 12: Furnishings
    Division 13: Special Construction (for example, greenhouses)
    Division 14: Conveying Equipment (elevators, escalators, lifts)
    Division 21: Fire Suppression
    Division 22: Plumbing
    Division 23: Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
    Division 26: Electrical
    Division 27: Communications
    Division 28: Electronic Safety and Security
    Division 31: Earthwork
    Division 32: Exterior Improvements
    Division 33: Utilities

    Click here for a detailed list of CSI MasterFormat 2004 Numbers and Titles


Product Research

Check on product availability (is it still being made)

Check on product accessibility (what is the delivery time)

Build in competition (do not specify one source for a product)

Cost Estimate

Cost estimates are organized by the "Uniformat" system as follows:

1 - Foundations

2 - Substructures

3 - Superstructure

4 - Exterior Closure

5 - Roofing

6 - Interior Construction

7 - Conveying

8 - Mechanical

9 - Electrical

10 - General Conditions (insurance, bonds, unemployment taxes, overtime, professional services, schedules

11 - Specialties (Furniture, millwork)

12 - Site work


Cost estimates are made at several stages of the project:

1. Feasibility Phase
2. Schematic Design Phase
3. Design Development Phase
4. Construction Document Phase


Quality Assurance System

Coordinate engineer's drawings

Checking of documents

"Redi-Check" system

Check lists

Peer Review