Getting Started with Working Drawings

Working drawings are essential in the design process, and it’s easy to see why. 

They provide a visual representation of how architects and engineers will approach designing your project. 

In addition, working drawings allow for clear communication between designers and clients and any professionals involved in the design process like surveyors, structural engineers, or contractors. 

Working drawings also help keep everyone on task by providing a timeline and an overview of what to do before the construction process begins. 

This blog post will discuss working drawings and how they work with other parts of the design process, such as building codes and site inspections.

We’ll also talk about some tips for ensuring your working drawing is accurate!

Working Drawings Explained

Working drawings contain crucial information about a building project’s success.

A full set will give the contractors a complete view of what will be necessary for the building construction.

Working drawings include many parts and elements that work together to create an accurate view of the finished product and how the builders will construct it. 

One crucial part of a working drawing is the floor plan, which shows an overhead view of the building and its layout. 

This diagram accompanies other drawings like:

  • Elevations, which show how the building looks from different sides.
  • Sections, which cut through the building to reveal interior spaces.
  • Detail drawings, showing specific features or elements of the design.
  • Construction drawings, which provide a more technical view of the project that contractors use during construction.

While it’s essential to have these different views when designing a building, it’s also necessary to make sure they all work together. 

Working drawings need to be accurate and consistent, so make sure to double-check your measurements and designs before sending them off for approval!

Working Drawings and Building Codes

One of the most important things to remember when creating working drawings is to be compliant with local building codes

Working drawings need to include all the information necessary for a contractor to start building.

They will also convey your creative vision, and ensure that everyone is on the same page about what kind of structure to build!

Working Drawings Tips

You will use working drawings convey design ideas and meet local building codes.

They’re also a way for designers, engineers, contractors, and clients to communicate with one another. 

Working Drawings need to be:

  • Complete (all necessary information included).
  • Accurate (at least two people should check measurements before finalizing the plans). 
  • Clear (be sure that everyone understands the information included)
  • Consistent (make sure all drawings are drawn to scale, use the same font type and size, etc.). 

Create working drawings that are easy for contractors to reference during construction.

They should be so clear that they are self-explanatory.

Working Drawings Deliverables

Your working drawings communicate with your building contractor and client by providing detailed information about your design and how to construct it. 

They should include the following: 

  • A title block with information about your project.
  • A site plan showing where on the lot your building will sit.
  • Floor plans that indicate each level of the structure from above (with dimensions included).
  • Elevations that show what different sides or views of the building look like.
  • A cross-section drawing that cuts through the building to reveal interior spaces.
  • Detail drawings providing specific information about your design.

Working Drawings should also include any necessary codes or technical data for construction (i.e., local building code requirements).

Types of Working Drawings

During construction, work drawings have different names like elevations, sections or plans, etc. 

The following kinds of drawings give all details of a building structure.

Architectural Drawings

Architecture drawings are technical renderings or architectural plans that fall under architectural classification. 

Architectural drawings are the blueprints that tell the contractor how to build it. 


An elevation is a view of the front, back, or side. 

Typically, you will draw elevations to scale and show the building’s height, width, and depth. 

They also show the location of doors, windows, and other features on the building.


A plan is a view of the inside of a building. 

Plans are typically drawn to scale and show the location of walls, doors, windows, and other features in the building.


A section is a view that shows how a building is divided into different floors or levels. 

Sections are typically drawn to scale and can be used to see the height and width of different features in the building.

Structural Drawings or Construction Drawings

Typically the building drawings provide an overview of the construction and the components incorporated into the building project. 

Structural drawings can generally be drawn from licensed structural engineers using input from architect drawings in the drawing process. 

Structural designs emphasize load-bearing components in construction. 

The structural engineer is responsible for signing and stamping the drawings.

Construction drawings typically focus on the materials and methods to be used in constructing a building.

The contractor will use these drawings in coordination with the structural drawings and designer’s drawing set to build out the project.

Electrical Drawings

The electrical drawings are technical drawings that illustrate information on lighting and communication in commercial construction projects. 

Your electrical construction drawing shows a schematic diagram of electrical wiring and other components connected to the electrical system and external grids inside a building. 

Typical symbols on Electrical Drawings represent circuit breakers, transformers, capacitor buses, conductors, etc. 

Plumbing and Sanitation Drawings

These technical drawings show the pumping of water around the house. 

Equipment, pipe, pumps, and drainage are illustrated with drawings in detail. 

Plumbing design drawings also outline the positions of sanitary pipes for water supplies and fixtures and the connection process for the various accessories.

Sanitary drawings are an essential part of the building design process, as they illustrate the positions of sanitary pipes for water supplies and fixtures. 

Sanitary drawings also show the connection process for the various accessories. 

Plumbing and sanitation drawings are often drawn by a plumbing designer and provide detailed information on water pumping around the house.

Mechanical Drawings

Mechanical drawings show the mechanical systems in the building.

A typical mechanical construction drawing shows pumps, compressors, and fans used in a commercial or residential project. 

Mechanical drawings also show the piping systems for hot and cold water and other liquids required to operate those machines.

Roofing Drawings

A roof is an integral part of any structure, so it should be designed with utmost care and precision. 

The roofs can be drawn by engineers trained on this who can quickly create blueprints, saving both time and money for the designer! 

Finishing Drawings

This drawing shows the finishing details/appearance of buildings. 

Construction finishing drawings are a complete description of every element of construction. 

You will then issue he drawings to the contractor with a specification sheet that lists every material, color, brand name, etc.

Technology and Working Drawings

Although historically, designers drew manually, technological advancements play a major role. 

Building Information Modeling, or BIM for short, is a technology that is becoming increasingly important in architecture and construction. 

BIM is a three-dimensional CAD model that allows designers, engineers, and contractors to collaborate on a project. 

The BIM model includes all information about a building, from the structure to the finishes. 

All parties will use this information to create construction documents, estimates, and even fabrication drawings.

If there is a need for custom parts, manufacturers and fabricators can use the model to produce a three-dimensional (CAD) drawing of the part, which they will use to create a mold or template.

BIM models combined with recently developed virtual reality technology allow a design business to show their clients and contractors the building in both:

  • two-dimensional orthogonal projections and
  • three-dimensional representations.

Using Architectural Details

Working drawings include many architectural details that speed up the process and reduce errors.

One of the ways that people can use architectural details to speed up the process of their design is by taking advantage of the pre-made details available in CAD software. 

Designers can use these details to create construction documents, estimates, and even fabrication drawings. 

In addition, using architectural details can help reduce errors in the design process.

The AIBD High-Performance Homes Team has taken on the task of detail drawing various components.

We offer this growing set of First Floor, Second Floor, Roof, and other details for free to all AIBD members.

Getting the Building Permit

Once the drawings have been finalized, because you will submit them to a municipality for approval. 

The designer is responsible for ensuring that all details of the design comply with local building codes and regulations.

The designer is also responsible for ensuring that all details in their design comply with local building codes and regulations.

Architectural Drawing Industry Standards

Architects must comply with several industry standards when creating architectural drawings. 

Some of these standards include the following:

  • The drawings must be to scale
  • They must be accurate and complete
  • The drawings must be easy to understand
  • They must be drawn on the standard size paper
  • Dimensions must include fractions and metric units, as well as text explanations of the dimensions (which is why it’s vital to label building components)

Designing for Safety

Life safety is one of the most critical aspects of building design. 

The working drawings must include specific information about life safety to ensure that people are safe in case of a fire or other emergency. 

This includes details such as exit paths, stairways, and smoke detectors.


A good working drawing is an integral part of the building design process for the construction project can begin. 

They help contractors understand how to build the structure and show all of the details about the building. 

Working drawings can be of various types, show different building features, and you can make them using your computer.

For additional information on working drawings, specific details, and other details necessary to building a construction project, check out our member-exclusive CAD Design Details.

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