The Top 5 Construction Documents and Why They Are Important

The development process, from initial conceptual to physical construction, is guided by construction documentation. These are legally binding forms that keep the project organized and allow all parties involved to remain informed so they can make quick decisions that keep the project running on schedule.

Keeping track of the many different types of documentation can be difficult even for those with experience in the industry, so we’ve made a quick guide of some of the most important documents you’re likely to encounter.

Construction Agreement 

Construction agreements are legal contracts that outline the parameters of a building project. They cover a broad scope of topics and have to be signed by all parties before construction can begin.

This document includes amongst other things, a complete description of the project and a list of all involved parties and their responsibilities. It also includes a general timeline, an insurance policy, documentation of local laws, legal protections for the contractor, and a section to account for any delays in construction.

Contract Conditions

A general conditions contract lays out the contractor’s legal responsibilities and the “soft costs” needed to carry out the project. It breaks down and itemizes each party’s roles and duties during development and how disputes, changes to the plan, and delays are to be handled.

Additionally, most contracts will have special conditions, which expand upon the general conditions and cover parts of the project that weren’t fully outlined in more detail. They essentially clarify any loose ends and can also be used to balance unfair conditions which favor any one party over another.

Design plans and drawings 

Drawings are visual documents that offer an efficient way for the clients and contractor to evaluate the design before any work begins, and act as a reference for the various teams involved in the project. There’s a wide range of drawings to cover different aspects of construction.

Some of these include: plumbing drawings, which show the details of the in and outbound water supply; mechanical drawings which lay out the sizes and locations of mechanical equipment; structural drawings, which show details such as the foundation, the support beams, and the roof. 

These are just a few of the many types of drawing documents you’ll typically see.


There are two main types of scheduling documents for construction: A schedule of values and a construction schedule. Both work together in tandem.

Schedule of values

A Schedule of Values keeps an ongoing detailed list of every billable item and its value that is used and completed throughout the project timeline. It’s referenced by construction and project managers to keep track of the budget and to make sure work is staying on schedule.

Construction schedule

This type of schedule offers a big-picture project schedule with projected timeframes for completing major steps of construction. Permits and various other necessary paperwork are included to make it clear at what stage to apply for them. 

The schedule also keeps track of what has been completed and what still needs to be finished, and will sometimes offer alternative options to account for the many possible delays or changes to the plan that happen during construction.


Specs, or specifications, is a type of document written up by architects or engineers, which lists all the technical details of a project. These documents are coordinated with the design drawings and need to be synced up with any design plan updates.

Specs offer a detailed layout of the materials and installations needed, as well any deviations allowed in the case of material shortages. Without this guidance, the wrong materials could be ordered and installed, resulting in budget issues and lost time.

Specification documents also recommend what on-site equipment to use and what additional quality testing and certifications are legally required. This document is standard for any project and reduces risk.

Though this article is by no means an exhaustive list of construction documents, it does cover some of the most common ones. If you’re new to the industry and finding that the mountain of paperwork is becoming too much to handle, give APX West a call at 928-412-3570. We’re up to the task and ready to help you get your project off the ground!

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