Building drawings, also called construction drawings or architectural drawings, are visual illustrations that represent a public, residential or commercial building project.
They guide the construction process by showing the dimensions of a building, how various materials will be used as well as other aspects that also help local authorities to grant the necessary permits.
Construction drawings are often drawn by architects, although other building professionals contribute one or more types of drawings. For example, on a mall project, engineers might draw their own designs for plumbing or ventilation.
The building drawings have architectural symbols for various facets of the construction project. These symbols include standardized markings that represent lighting and electrical structures, among other features.
Architectural symbols make it easier for construction crews and local building authorities to read and understand construction drawings.
Here are the common types of architectural drawings:
Types of building drawing
There are five main types of construction drawings, including architectural, electrical, plumbing, and finish drawings, each with a specific purpose.
1. Architectural drawing
This drawing, which contains the details of the project, is labeled as the parent drawing of all drawings used in construction.
Common types of architectural drawings include site plan, work plan, sectional drawing, elevation drawings, and detail drawings.
(i.) Site map: Defined as a large-scale drawing indicating the full extent of the site for a project, a site map is the primary drawing used to mark the design on the site.
This building drawing is often completed after a series of office meetings and construction site inspections.
(ii.) Work plan: This type of drawing provides details of the building’s horizontal measurements, wall thickness, empty spaces inside the building, as well as column locations.
A working drawing also illustrates the openings in a building, including doors, windows and fans. Traditional artboards contain two-dimensional orthographic projections of a structure such as sections and elevations.
(iii.) Sectional drawing: These are perspective drawings of buildings. In other words, they are images of a building cut out from an imaginary vertical plane.
Perspective drawings of buildings provide a view through the spaces and surrounding components of a building – which may not be evident in working drawings.
Sectional drawings are often used to show the foundation of a building, the interior of walls or floors, beams, columns, lintels (supporting structures above doors and windows), etc.
(iv.) Elevation plan: This is a first angle projection that shows all parts of the structure viewed from a specific direction with the perspective flattened.
These drawing types are typically designed for four directional views, for example, north, south, east, and west. They provide details on the openings, the size and shape of the exterior surface, the height of the building and the last finish of the building.
(v.) Detail drawing: This building drawing illustrates elements shown in other larger scale building drawings. They provide more detailed information regarding the placement and connections between the different parts.
Detail drawings can be created for stairs, door frames, window frames, cornices, or material connections – for example, where a column meets the foundation.
2. Structural drawing
This is a type of building drawing with all the data on how a structure will be assembled. Structural drawings, which are the drawings of the backbone of buildings, are prepared by engineers based on the details provided by architectural drawings.
Editor’s Note: Structural drawings should not be confused with architectural drawings. While structural drawings are easily identifiable from their mostly line working drawings, architectural drawings contain features such as bathroom and kitchen accessories.
(i.) General remarks: This is not a drawing but a text document that provides details of all structural drawings mentioned in this section, such as concrete mix, break-in interval, cure period, abbreviation, codes and other important construction processes.
(ii.) Excavation plan: These types of construction drawings represent the length, width and depth of excavation on the construction site, post position, footing plane, and column grid lines. The excavation line is usually marked with a dotted line to make it easily identifiable.
(iii.) Arrangement of columns: This is a drawing that contains details of the position and orientation of columns and column reinforcement for the building. This is one of the most important types of construction drawings because it is not possible to locate the actual location of the structure without a column layout.
(iv.) Plinth beam arrangement: This indicates the sizes, positions and section of the plinth beam and the details of the plinth beam reinforcement (a reinforced concrete beam built between the wall and its foundation).
(v.) Arrangement of lintel beams: This indicates the sizes, position and section of the header beam and details of the reinforcement in the header beam (a beam that is built over a door or window to support the weight above).
(vi.) Layout of roof beams and formwork: This refers to the details of the reinforcement of the roof beam, its section and the details of the formwork.
(vii.) Layout of the roof slab: This drawing provides details on the reinforcement of a roof slab, its section and openings in the roof for stairs or dormer.
RELATED: How to Read Construction Drawings
3. Mechanical and electrical drawing
Also known as a wiring diagram, the electrical drawing provides a visual representation and information about electrical devices, the location of switches, fan, light, and other details about the electrical system or circuit.
These types of construction drawings are used to provide the engineering design to technicians hired to install the building’s electrical (wiring) system.
In small residential projects the two designs are combined into one, but professionals may choose to separate the two in large commercial projects such as hospitals which often require complex ventilation systems.
4. Plumbing and drainage drawing
The plumbing and drainage design designates the piping system for the water or gas supply to the building and the wastewater leaving the house.
These types of construction drawings show the exact locations and sizes of plumbing fixtures such as pipes, pumps, water tanks, drains, and vents.
5. Finishing the drawing
These types of designs represent the finish of each part of the building, including the texture of the plaster, the colors of the paint, the design of the flooring, etc. This information is often provided in elevation drawings.
Unlike detail drawings, which focus on the structural elements of a building, a finish drawing focuses on design elements such as wall paint colors, floor patterns, plaster texture, etc.
Other types of designs include:
Reflected ceiling drawing
This drawing shows what the ceiling should look like when viewed from the ground. It can show such things as fixtures attached to ceilings, visual features of a cornice, design of a visible column.
These drawings illustrate a three-dimensional construction project. They provide a more detailed understanding of how the structure will look when completed.
A perspective drawing can help builders visualize, for example, what porches installed outside apartments will look like when erected.