As-built & record drawings

I’m reminded this week about the importance of good close-out documentation for a project.  It’s something we consultants require of the integrators on our jobs, and it’s also something our clients require of us.  In each case it comes late in the project, when attention has turned to solving the last remaining problems and then moving on.  But despite its limited appeal, it’s important.

The need is obvious for contractor as-builts.  Though the term refers to drawings, we also require equipment lists, schedules of IP addresses and wireless frequencies, and source codes for any custom-developed software.  I often explain the concept by saying “Provide the documents that would allow a skilled but unfamiliar technician to maintain or expand the system.”  Of course it’s more than just that: serial numbers support insurance claims for lost or damaged equipment, and comprehensive user guides provide reminders to new staff about little-used system capabilities.  And for an upgrade project I’m currently working on, the availability of control system source codes will avoid a large cost penalty for reprogramming.

For consultant as-designed drawings, the purpose is a bit different.  It’s our drawings that illustrate the intent of the design, whether it’s technical details for the A/V contractor, ways of managing the heat produced from our equipment, or the considerations of placing projectors to avoid conflicts with hanging light fixtures.  There is a lot of back-and-forth in A/V design, and our record drawings document those decisions  –  A/V in relation to the rest of the building.  They can be fun to go back to and read years later, to see for example plans showing rear projection of overhead transparencies.

There can be confusion with the terms as-built and record drawings, and they aren’t always applied uniformly, but for those interested, there are good resources online.  One is here, though it’s written for architects and not technology consultants.  But the point remains – document your work, for its value persists long after you’ve gone on to other things.