Legend for Chapter 1:




Clear and rational thinking

Benefits of Following the Bvn Documentation Approach
  • Efficient communication of design intent through a legible, simple, clear document
  • The focus is on design, buildability and scope, rather than the drafting process
  • There is a standardisation of the documentation output of the studio
  • It allows an appropriate allocation of project risk
  • There is the potential for a reduced number of conflicts and ambiguities, resulting in fewer contractual claims
  • There is flexibility to accommodate design changes throughout the construction documentation stage
  • Better project outcomes
Departure from the BVN Documentation Approach

There are many facets to construction documentation and many aspects which influence the way the construction documentation set will evolve. The project and contract type, builder’s preferences, consultant’s preferences, BVN team leader’s preferences, will all play a part in the sculpting of the document. Adjustments to suit a particular project are inevitable.

The decision to depart from the prescribed BVN Documentation format is at the discretion of the team leader and will depend on the requirements of the project.

That decision is a matter of professional judgment, informed by the full understanding of the BVNCART Documentation Concepts and BVNCART Focus points.

Once greed, the altered set of rules has to be implemented consistently throughout the set.

Guides Not Rules

Concepts outlined in this document are principles, not rigid rules. This set of principles provides a base line for tested and efficient ways of completing the project documentation tasks.

Drawing and describing architectural entities

Construction documentation consists of two principal parts

  • drawings and specifications
Architectural Drawing Set

The architectural drawing set is autonomous. It communicates to the contractor comprehensive representation of the future building. The architectural drawing set incorporates listing of all codes used to describe the building through detailed description of the architectural entities. The architectural drawing set includes relevant ‘assembly of elements’ schedules.

Architectural Specifications

The architectural specification is a written document with technical directions and conditions describing the quality of materials and standard of workmanship of a project. It deals with items that are not shown on drawings or ‘assembly of elements’ schedules.

Architectural Entity

Architectural Entity (e.g. Reception, Main Entrance, Classroom, External Wall, Auditorium) is a collection of selected building elements (e.g. timber slats, metal studs, plasterboard sheets, coats of paint, ceiling tiles, etc.), assembled together in predetermined configuration.

The above definitions highlight the Architectural documentation paradox:

Drawings = architectural entities

Specifications = trade packages

Complete Information

We do not subdivide our drawing set to document isolated information specific to individual trades.

Concentrate on Architecture

The design intent is expressed through providing:

  • Dimensional setting-out of visible surfaces
  • Definition of materials
  • Definition of finishes

Everything else (i.e. structural design of fixings, internal profiling of aluminium extrusions, exact number of rubber blades within a gasket, etc.) is either in the job description of specialist consultants, contractors, construction managers, etc

Describing Architectural Entities

The architectural drawing set describes the architectural entities of the project through a set of continuously upgraded documents, regardless of what any contractor, at any stage, may wish to separate into a trade package.


Architectural specification is presented as a sequence of trades. The specification forms part of the tender and contract documents.

Tracking of Revisions
  • Cloud the changes
  • Show a revision triangle with revision number
  • Write brief description of changes in the description column

avoid meaningless descriptions like ‘GENERAL REVISIONS’


Depending on the type of contract, we are often commissioned by the client to act as a lead consultant, which places on us the responsibility to coordinate the design information of the entire design team. The clarity of communication between us and the other consultants, and the clear delineation between our and their information is crucially important for the success of the documentation stage of the project.

Do not repeat other consultant’s design information on our drawings.

Allocation of information


“The drawings are the graphic and pictorial portions of the contract documents showing the design, location and dimensions of the work, generally including plans, elevations, sections, details, schedules and diagrams.”

American Institute of Architects (AIA) Document A201-2007 – General


The architectural drawing set includes ‘assembly of elements’ schedules, e.g. door schedule and the room (finishes) schedule.

They are printed on the same size paper as the rest of the set and include the BVN title block, drawing name and revision column.


“The specifications are that portion of the contract document consisting of the written requirements for materials, equipment, systems, standards and workmanship for the work, and performance of the related services.”

American Institute of Architects (AIA) Document A201-2007 – General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, Paragraph 1.1.6

Content of Specification

A typical architectural specification contains two categories of descriptions:

Technical: e.g. materials, fabrication, workmanship, preparation, installation, tests, etc

Non-technical: e.g. scope of work, delivery of materials, samples and shop drawings requirements, permits, guarantees, job conditions, cleaning, etc

Say It Once

Provide a piece of information as few times as possible and only in the agreed place. Ideally only once within the Architectural Drawing Set. On a drawing or in a schedule.

Do not repeat specifications in the drawing set.

schedule the various types of materials as a detailed list finishes schedule (as used by interiors) ‘building elements’ schedule Appended to Specifications
schedule the various proprietary items used on the project as a list furniture schedule; FFE schedule ‘building elements’ schedule Appended to Specifications
schedule the same type of individual building elements (with criteria to describe variances) as a list door schedule ‘assembly of elements’ schedule in ‘J’ series Door Schedule
schedule building elements and performance criterions that we associated with a trade package specification as a list specification schedule ‘building elements’ schedule Appended to Specifications
schedule rooms/spaces with descriptions of finishes to visible surfaces as a list room (finishes) schedule ‘assembly of elements’ schedule in ‘F’ series Room Schedule

Documentation planning storyboarding

the Benefits of Producing a Storyboard:

The purpose of storyboarding is to provide the team with the following information:

  • Drawing numbers
  • Drawing titles
  • Layout and titles of drawings within a drawing sheet (up to 1:20 scale)

The storyboard shows the global picture.

It eradicates the need to reinvent the rules.

Naming conventions are consistent throughout the set.

In the general storyboard, sheets of details (a scale larger than 1:20) are only numbered and inserted into the set.


Plan the documentation process

Plan the management of the consultants’ input

Review the consultants’ input and incorporate it into the architectural drawing set.

Do not repeat consultants’ detailed information such as column sizes or purlin layouts.

First Decide on the Sheet Size

The size of paper is a function of the physical size of your building and scale of the general arrangement plan. Once decided, the size of paper must remain consistent.

Do not mix the sizes of paper within the set.

The General Storyboard

Break the drawing set into drawing groups as per the BVN Alphabet. Design the storyboard at A3 size. This becomes the skeleton of your future drawing set. The General storyboard is produced by a team leader or technical coordinator, not by team members in isolation.

Detailed Building Component Storyboard

The coordinating architects in charge of documentation of a particular building component (e.g. external wall, ceilings, etc.) produce their own storyboard, within the framework of the general storyboard.

Legend sheet

The legend sheet provides the key to reading all graphics, abbreviations, codes and symbols used within the architectural drawing set.