Four Steps to creating flawless drawings

There is more to making design documents (a fancy word for drawings) than just using CAD. CAD is the tool we use today to make our drawings, but it isn't the only part of drawing creation. That other part is the human doing the work. CAD helps of course, but the human tells CAD what to do. The problem with that is that humans make errors all of the time. CAD helps to reduce errors, or at least it can unless the human makes an error.

Here is a method you can use to help reduce the errors (not completely remove, that can't be done) you create in your drawings.

Step 1-Create a checklist.

A checklist will help you make sure you have included everything you need on your drawings. This really helps when you annotate your drawings and it should be able to be applied to every project.

A great way to create you drawing checklist is to print out about three different projects. Get at least two drawing sets minimum but three will be better. Go through each type of drawing and create a list of everything on that sheet.

Here is a way you can go about creating your checklist. Grab the cover sheet from each set, a pen, a highlighter and a pad of paper. Go through each drawing writing down the first thing you see and highlighting them on each sheet. Highlight it so that you know you have included it on your checklist. Do this until everything on each sheet is highlighted. Now arrange the items on your list into an order that makes sense. The order isn't absolutely important. The important part is making sure you have what you need on that list.  Do this for each type of drawing you have. This will create a very thorough list of what you need on each type of drawing. You can also create general checklists like how to fill out your title block, basic annotations for each sheet, notes, details, anything that is not really specific but something that should be on each (or the majority of) sheet.

Step 2-Print out your drawings.

Once you feel your drawings are ready print them out. Grab your highlighter and red pen as well as your checklist. Go through your list highlighting the items you have and indicating that they are correct. Anything that is wrong mark it in red. Anything that is missing write it in, sketch it in, draw it, whatever it needs to make sure those items get on your drawing. Go through the entire set.

Step 3-Revise your drawings.

After your check make all of the changes you found. Print the set again, give it a quick once over making sure you did get everything. If there are small items just mark them up in red. If it is a major mistake redo that part. The goal is to be thorough, but you don;t want to waste time or paper. Hand it in to whoever is reviewing it next. You will see a significant reduction in errors and redlines. There will be errors and redlines. That is inevitable because again, as stated above, we are humans and humans make mistakes.

Step 4-Update your checklist.

Your checklist is your guide. You are only as good as the data in your list. You will need to constantly revise and update your lists. On each project look at the red lines you received and compare those to your lists. See if something was project specific or if it's something you missed when you created your list. Also note anything that needs to be removed from your list.  If a third party reviews your drawings, like a local municipality, code agency, utility department, code inspector, local planning agency, or anyone, make sure you have included their requirements too.

Creating a checklist is not full proof; however it will greatly enhance your efficiency in that you will present drawings that have fewer mistakes. Those pesky "little things" that can plague a review set should all but disappear. You might also want to consider making a project checklist before you start drawing making sure your design gets everything it needs.

What other tricks do you use to make sure you create a good set of drawings?