The industry terms “As-Built” drawings and “Record” drawings are often a source of confusion, and, generally speaking, there is no set definition for these terms.  “As-Built” drawings and “Record” drawings are frequently subject to different meanings, as the various concepts associated with there terms are often conflated.  It is often the case that insufficient attention is paid to the difference and distinctions project participants attribute to these industry terms.  At best, the misuse, misapplication, or failure to recognize distinctions being made in the use of the terms “As-Built” drawings and “Record” drawings may lead to an owner with disappointed expectations or extra uncompensated work for the design professional; and, at worst, invite a dispute and create potential professional liability issues.

These concerns should be addressed by having a clear understanding of what distinctions are typically associated with these terms and encouraging open dialogue with the owner to manage and define expectations.  Additionally, project participants should expressly delineate responsibility in a written contract for any services associated with the creation of “As-Built” drawings and “Record” drawings, if they are part of the design professional’s scope of services, and incorporating cautionary notes and/or disclaimers within the contract documents, including the design professional’s professional services agreement.


Use of these industry terms should be done in a clear manner and an effort should be made to avoid intermingling the terms and the concepts ascribed to them.  While there is no set definition for these industry terms, most design professionals and others involved in the construction industry should subscribe to the following general definitions:

As-Built Drawings

“As-Built” drawings are typically prepared by the contractor during the construction phase of the project.  These drawings are based on information the contractor provides, typically through the contractor’s mark-ups to the design professional’s original drawings.  Primarily, these drawings show in “red ink” (or some other method of distinction) the onsite changes and/or deviations from the original contract documents.  Read more from this Great American article here.

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