The purpose for a set of plans, or a set of construction documents in general, is simply to communicate a concept.
A set of documents that go for permit is intended to clearly communicate code compliance for the work being done.
A set of documents that go out for bid are intended to clearly communicate a scope of work to a bidding contractor.
A set of documents for construction are intended to clearly communicate instructions for work to be completed.
You might have noticed a trend by now.
The purpose for documents is always clear communication.
The irony for most of us engineering types is that we got into this industry because we didn't want to have to communicate. Yet that's exactly what we're trying to accomplish every time we put pen to paper. And of course by pen to paper that’s figurative … we don’t use paper anymore…
Anyways a quality set of documents will clearly and unambiguously convey what is to be done as part of the project.
There should only be one way that plans can be interpreted.
If a set of documents is vague, ambiguous, or offers more questions than answers, then it is not achieving its goal.
You could make the argument it's actually hurting the project more than it is helping, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.
Why do we use plans?
Well sometimes we don't.
There are other ways to communicate what is going to be completed, that could a written scope of work, could be verbal, could be a freehand sketch, could be a model, could be a mockup, or augmented reality holograms.
I just hope I’m around long enough to see the later happen.
Plans and specs are simply our best and most standardized way of communicating in the building industry.
Plans become very useful the larger or more complex a project becomes.
It's simply a way to communicate a concept before a whole lot of effort and cost is used up.
The big takeaway here is that the better we are able to clearly communicate a concept through the use of plans and spec, the better result we would get from bidding, plan review, and the actual install itself.
I'm Joe Meyer, this is MeyerFire University.
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