When an infrastructure project is complete, the professional team has to prepare drawings representing the infrastructure, as it was completed in the end. All on-site changes and deviations from designs are incorporated in these drawings. This is very important particularly to services which are difficult to locate once they have been covered, like pipelines and under ground power lines.

In the past we would mark/label these drawings "as built". Now we have been informed that we should change that to "as recorded", because "as built" implies that the drawings are a perfect representation of what in fact has been built. By using the phrase "as recorded", any liability / responsibility for incorrect drawings becomes unclear.

What is the proper term to use? And to what extent is the person preparing the "as built" drawings responsible for inaccuracies?

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    $\begingroup$ The liability portion of the question may be outside of the site's scope. Novel areas of liability law almost always require an attorney to review the matter. More detail about who is requesting this change would be helpful. That said, the terminology portion of your question certainly seems on-topic. $\endgroup$ – GlenH7 Nov 25 '15 at 16:52

In aerospace and defence projects, "as built" is the used term and the correctness of the as-built data is the responsibility of the whole company (contractor/subcontractor). The as-built data is certificated by the quality department, not by engineers.

Technical details of as-design, as-built, as-maintained data sets can be found in the Configuration Management literature.

For civil engineering and architects, here's an excerpt from the American Institute of Architects Best Practices document (BP.10.10.04):

"Risk management advisors recommend that architecture and engineering professionals use the term “record drawings,” saying there is no such thing as an “as-built” drawing or document (Schinnerer, 2002). Because portions of record drawings are based on information provided by outside sources, architects cannot be expected to verify the information (Schinnerer, 2002). Victor O. Schinnerer & Co. recommends including a provision in the professional services contract that acknowledges this understanding. For examples of this language, see Best Practice, “Certifying As-Built or Record Drawings.”"

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    $\begingroup$ I think the person(s) who issued the "as recorded", or who made it a requirement may have somehow read the document you referred to but combined "As Built" and "Record Drawings" into "As Recorded". Thank you, Gürkan, this helped a lot. I will keep the question open for a while, maybe someone adds something more particular to engineers instead of architects. I will have another look at the FIDIC (International Federation of Civil Engineers) Standard Contract Documents (Red Book and Yellow Book) and have clarity on the matter. $\endgroup$ – NamSandStorm Nov 25 '15 at 19:27

It's an interesting proposal. Certainly "as builts" are not always accurate to exactly how it was built. I'm not certain that "as recorded" is a great phrase - the drawing is the record, supposedly of how it was built. Saying "this is a record of how it was recorded" is tautological.

As to who has the liability - I actually don't know! I've only been involved in "as built" drawings once, on a project where the contractor "self certificated", i.e. the contractor was responsible for checking that what he built was right. But my team (the consultants) prepared the "as built" drawings. I believe (from a vague memory) that we were employed by the contractor to produce "as builts" separate from our main contract with them. Essentially they instructed us exactly what to put on the "as built" drawings. Therefore the responsibility should lie with them, but our team's initials were on the drawings; which would therefore mean we took responsibility for them. But it was the contractor who submitted them to the client, which obviously means he had responsibility to the client for their accuracy. Whether the contractor would then have any comeback on us... I don't know, I'd have to ask a lawyer.

All that said, I can't see that relabelling them as "as recorded" would absolve anyone of any legal responsibility.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that drawings are records. Drawings are usually documents. They don't tell you what was done, they tell you what to do. In this case, they are creating after-the-fact drawings, and thus it seems necessary to note that this drawing is essentially an inspection report. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Archibald Nov 25 '15 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ Somebody walked over my grave when I read the contractor was responsible for checking that what he built was right. $\endgroup$ – Air Nov 25 '15 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Air depending on the type of contract, in some cases actually this is the case. With turnkey projects in some jurisdictions the client pays an amount of money to a reputable turnkey contractor and then just gets a key and a bunch of "as built" drawings at the end. With donor funds / development aid an "oversight" consultant often gets appointed. $\endgroup$ – NamSandStorm Nov 25 '15 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ @NamSandStorm Oh, I know it happens - doesn't mean I have to like it. :) $\endgroup$ – Air Nov 25 '15 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Air - I couldn't agree more. The system made no sense to me either. $\endgroup$ – AndyT Nov 26 '15 at 9:02

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