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The incredible Value of Good Drawings

A good, clear, concise, thorough set of Construction Documents can save a lot of money and aggravation.  


Have you ever tried to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without reading the instructions, or to assemble something with instructions written in a different language that you could not understand or translate? Well, that’s how it feels building a project with bad Construction Documents (commonly known as CDs or Construction Drawings). [red the post ]


Although I do enjoy the challenge to assemble furniture without reading the instruction as a a mental exercise, as it could be for someone else when they do their crossword puzzle or sudoku, you can beat the clock against someone reading the instructions only when you are really good at it and can think 10 steps ahead, otherwise you will always come second.


Now, what if you were paid hourly to figure it out, wouldn’t you (perhaps unethically) take your sweet time to move across the finish line? What if the instructions to assemble that piece of furniture were unclear and you were getting paid to stay on the phone with the manufacturer asking for help through their 800 number? In a perfect dream world, we would be all capitalizing by just sitting at the phone with IKEA all day long, right?


Well, in construction it works pretty much the same way. The General Contractor will keep sending your Architect RFIs (Request For Information) and charge you for the time lost on the field while he or she is waiting for an answer. I know, this may be an oversimplified example, but you will be surprised about how this little “trick”, one day at a time, will run your project slower to take much more more time and unnecessary drain your pockets. We all know that time is money. That extra month or two of interest paid to the bank plus the GC management will add up and it will always be so, so difficult to track it down and identify the real cause on a granular level, while the time spent doing that will almost never be worth the efforts.  I know of projects where this was done where we were talking about millions of dollars that did not add up and a pricey accounting investigator was eventually hired to find that hole.


That “hole” is almost never the result of unethical action (even if I do admit that some GCs out there can play this game so well…) but rather part of the process when the information provided - the instructions - is incomplete.  

Obviously, this does not happen in small projects, the same way it does not happen if that piece of furniture took your entire day to assemble ….you would never send a letter to IKEA from your attorney, with a complaint about your wasted sunny afternoon accompanied by an invoice, you will probably say F-it and move on.


This last one, is the approach that many homeowners have when they completed the construction of their residence; they are excited about the move in and “forget” about all the unnecessary aggravation and costs that they went through, however, they know well that if they had to do it all over again, they would do something different, which is paying for better drawings.

That simple choice up front, could have saved much more than its cost buy reducing RFIs, Change Orders, time of construction and carrying costs.


With good drawings, you literally spend pennies to save a dollar.