I’ve heard people ask what the difference is between “As-Built” documents and “Record” documents. The terms are frequently used interchangeably, but, from a liability point of view, the two can be quite different.
In AIA Document A201-2007, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, Section 3.11 states:
The Contractor shall maintain at the site for the Owner one copy of the Drawings, Specifications, Addenda, Change Orders and other Modifications, in good order and marked currently to indicate field changes and selections made during construction, and one copy of approved Shop Drawings, Product Data, Samples and similar required submittals. These shall be available to the Architect and shall be delivered to the Architect for submittal to the Owner upon completion of the Work as a record of the Work as constructed.
You’ll notice that there is no mention of “as-built” documents, but it does state that the contractor provide documents as a “record of the Work as constructed.” “As-built” documents have the connotation that the work as shown is exactly as constructed and that the preparer certifies the accuracy of the documents. As everyone who has remotely worked with a construction project knows, there is no way that marked-up documents can be certified as to their accuracy—the information is supplied by many participants in the construction, and that all information cannot be verified. As a result, many contractors are being advised by their insurance and legal consultants not to use the term “as-built,” but rather “record” documents.
Design professionals (DPs) should be equally advised to do the same, especially if they are retained to prepare postconstruction documents as a record of the construction. As with the contractor, the DP is relying on information provided by other parties to prepare the documents—there is no way for the DP to go back into the building to verify specific locations of all building components.
For architects, AIA Document B101-2007, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect, indicates that preparation of postconstruction documents are an additional service, and that these documents can be provided in two forms: As-Designed Record Documents and As-Constructed Record Documents. The former is a consolidation of all documents involving the architects design, including addenda and contract modifications; the latter is the preparation of record documents based on contractor-provided record information required by AIA Document A201.
Whether record documents are prepared by the contractor or by the design professional, contractors and design professionals should seek the advice of their legal and insurance advisors to determine if the inclusion of a disclaimer on the documents is appropriate, especially if an owner insists that the term “as-built” be used. To verify which term is required, contractors should review Division 01 of the specifications and see what term is required; this is frequently specified in Section 01 78 39 “Project Record Documents.”
What are your experiences with record/as-built documents?