Critically important to a variety of construction and engineering disciplines, unlike the majority of surveys that are carried out before work has commenced, as-built surveys provide a snapshot of a site at a particular point during or after the works.

Varying in complexity and format, a comprehensive as built survey highlights any improvements or alterations made to a site as they appear at that point in time.

They serve as a foundation upon which any changes can be recorded and a vital reference document for anyone working in that area in the future. Unfortunately, however, many are never carried out at all leaving construction drawings or even guesswork the only source of information.

Essentially acting as a legacy drawing, as built surveys are intended to show the any changes that have been made to the site as it was pre-construction. Not simply a means of verifying contract compliance, accurate plans are vitally important for those who will use the site in the future.

With land being redeveloped, services installed and maintained and land ownership changing, a quality as built drawing will act as a repository showing all changes made to a site’s life cycle, educating future developments and excavations and ensuring the safety of those involved.

XRAIL’ specialist survey teams regularly carry out as built surveys across a variety of sectors, from rail and utilities to civil engineering and telecoms. Using cutting edge equipment, we locate and measure on site elements, transferring that data into two and three-dimensional CAD drawings. Fieldwork is completed quickly and efficiently with drawings available within a matter of days.

Why are good as built surveys so rare?

Whilst some contractors produce excellent as built documents, the vast majority do not leaving them to the end of a project and dedicating the minimum amount of time to this most important task. The reasoning behind this is not particularly complex… With little or no money being apportioned within many contracts for as builts, the motivation to complete them properly and at the right time can be lacking.

The result? Incomplete, poorly laid out and frequently hand-sketched documents, often lacking important notations and sometimes without key elements marked on them at all.

It’s important to note that many contracts will allow for a portion of the invoice value to be retained until such time as proper as builts have been supplied. By waiting until the end of a project to complete them (or by not supplying them at all) contractors often delay the point at which they can be paid in full.

Telecoms and utilities as builts

In a utilities or telcoms context, without comprehensive as-built documents assets are increasingly difficult to locate with cable strikes and service outages becoming inevitable over time. Without the proper documentation minor changes or deviations will not be recorded with strikes, time and costs increasing as a result.

Our dedicated team of as-built surveyors works directly alongside or just behind installation teams picking up new runs and assets (cabinets, switches, manholes etc.) in real time. The result? Truly accurate, up to date as-built documents that reduce downtime, saving time and money in the process.

Key points to consider

There are a number of key points to bear in mind when considering as builts. The most important are as follows…

  • As builts should form part of the initial contract, discussed and programmed in from the very earliest stages of the project rather than being an afterthought. Whilst often overlooked, they form a critical part of almost any construction project and should be planned well in advance.
  • Rather than being carried out in a single block at the end of the project, as builts should be comprised of a number of interim surveys that chart the site’s progress, pinpointing those features (e.g. buried services) that are due to be covered up. A responsible contractor should update the as built drawing as work moves on, treating it as a working document and updating it regularly so as to provide a genuinely useful resource for all stakeholders.
  • A third party survey firm should always carry out any as-builts. By definition, as built surveys are designed to check a contractor’s work. Inspections and contract compliance verification should not be left to the party whose work is being assessed due to obvious conflicts of interest.
  • As built surveys are usually (albeit incorrectly) left until the end of a project and, as a result, are frequently the last box for a contractor to tick. If left to the contractor, therefore, there is always the risk that the person carrying out the work will consider them an afterthought and might rush the work, missing vital elements and/or producing a substandard or incomplete resource.
  • A high quality set of as built drawings increases clarity and can provide stakeholders with a mechanism for checking a third party’s work, allowing them to dispute work invoiced for but not completed.

Get in touch

If you’d like to discuss as built surveys, either in general or in relation to a particular project, please call 03450 600 700 or get in touch via the quick enquiry form below.

A member of our team will be happy to help.


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