CAD Standards Are Important

The first blog I ever wrote here was about the Importance of CAD Standards and it is as relative today as it was back then.  Why?  Well, because some design team members still refuse to use them!

Two weeks ago, I received some drawings from an architect (who shall remain nameless). There were 5 layers in the drawing, including the default Layer 0.  You might say ‘Well at least they didn’t draw everything on Layer 0’ and you’d be right to say that.  What they did do was put every piece of text on one layer, every construction entity on another, vegetation on the 4th layer and on the 5th, their title block.

Now, that may work for them and if it does, fantastic. However, when you are working with a design team, those little layers means a lot of time and effort goes into cleaning up the drawings.  I do mainly Building Services Layouts like HVAC, Water, Gas, Electric and Data.  I don’t need to see all the architectural detail, I certainly don’t need all the text appearing on my drawings and, well OK, for a site layout, the Vegetation is good to see – it means I’m not putting lighting columns in the middle of some trees!

What I’m getting at here is ‘Time is money’.  The longer design team members have to take to get their drawings in order, the more it costs them.  In an ideal world, External walls would have a layer, likewise internal walls.  The same would go for Doors, Windows, Beams, Ceilings and so on.  It allows someone like me to quickly and easily delete unwanted elements from a drawing.

The same goes for Text. On my drawings I don’t need Room Areas, Floor Slopes, or Construction Notes. Room Names are all I need to see. If all of the text is one one layer, it is an incredibly painstaking task to remove all the text and only keep what I need.  The quicker I can strip out all of the unnecessary elements from a drawing, the quicker I can progress with the project.

Now, I’m far from perfect, but over the years, I have developed a layering system that works for me and my team.  I did this by taking the time to look at the drawings we were producing, and work out how easy it would be for someone to work on those drawings if I was not around.  I can pick up a drawing from 10 years ago and the same layering convention is in use.  The layers for Internal and External Walls are still the same as they were back then.  The layers for HVAC Extract and Supply are the same, as are Smoke Detectors and Light Fittings.

Your CAD Standards, Layering, Blocks, Text Style, Title Sheets and so on, should have room to grow and adapt as needed, but the core of your standards should remain the same.  Continuity is what it is all about.  Should you have a Technician who leaves, any other Technician or Engineer should, if you have CAD Standards in place, be able to open their drawings and work confidently in them.

I don’t often rant in my blogs, but CAD Standards are important and sticking to them is even more so. Good CAD standards lead to quality work and can help control costs.  The time spent developing them is well worth it in the long term.

That’s it for today.  I’ll try not to rant next week!

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MJ Smyth
The first time I used CAD, it was on a DOS PC with an 8088 processor, 640K of memory and a Hercules Mono Graphics Card... That, well that was a long long time ago. I switched to DraftSight the day it was released and haven't looked back!
MJ Smyth

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