Module 1.2 – National CAD Standards


As you will repeatedly hear this semester, strong theoretical ideas can only result in exceptional built outcomes, if you effectively translate your ideas into well-executed construction documents (CDs). Effective translation requires you to hone your construction documentation craft, specifically to be clear, concise, and legible. Thus as stated earlier in the course:

Drawing craft in planting methods serves several purposes:

  • Your drawing craft communicates the professionalism you bring to a clients project;
  • Expresses the spatial qualities (e.g., scale, texture, colors, ambiance, form, and function), inter-and intra-system relationships, and the ecological assemblages of your design; and
  • Legibility and thoroughness facilitate a well-constructed project within budget, on time, and with reduced liability.

While there is an art to beautiful, concise, and legible CDs, there are also standards to assist you in creating your CDs. These standards also facilitate collaboration among multi-disciplinary teams. In almost all cases, each design office has adopted a set of CAD standards. If these offices work on governmental projects, they have most likely selected a form of the National CAD Standards. A link to the PDF can be found on the Course Canvas Site. The benefits of a National CAD standard (USNCD), as outlined by USNCD, are as follows:

Benefits for building design professionals
1) Consistent classification, organization, and representation of CAD data for all projects, regardless of the project type or client.
2) Seamless transfer of information between architects, engineers, and other design team members.
3) Reduced preparation time for translation of electronic data files between different proprietary software file formats; predictable file translation results.
4) Reduced data file formatting and set-up time as a result of the adoption of the Standard by software application vendors.
5) Greatly reduced staff training time to teach multiple “office standards.”
6) A streamlined process for checking drawings for references, omissions, etc.
7) Automated updating of data files as the Standard evolves.
8) New opportunities for expanded services and revenue beyond building design.
9) New marketing opportunity; design firms complying with the Standard can feature compliance as a benefit to prospective clients

Benefits for the general contractor and related sub-contractors
1) Consistent organization of CAD data for all projects, from all sources.
2) Consistent drawing sheet order and sheet organization; information appears in the same place in all drawing sets, regardless of the source.
3) Reduction of discrepancies, reducing the potential for errors, change orders, and construction delays.
4) Consistent detail reference system.

Benefits for the client/building owner
1) Consistent organization of data for all projects, from all sources.
2) Greater clarity of communication of design intent to the client.
3) Streamlined electronic data management of facility management data.
4) Enhanced potential for automated document storage and retrieval.
5) Streamlined construction document checking process.

Benefits for the entire building design and construction industry
1) Reduced costs for training resulting from the common language of data classification and organization for CAD.
2) Improved preparation and training of prospective employees at undergraduate and graduate institutions of higher learning.
3) Enhanced potential for automated training and distance learning.
4) Elimination or reduction of a major barrier to the free exchange of building construction data, creating an opportunity to improve quality, improve efficiency and reduce costs in the building design, construction, and maintenance process.
USNCD, 2014

To better assist you in creating CDs, we will specifically cover drawing or sheet naming conditions and numbering, layer naming, drawing standards, and plotting guidelines. If you want further information on graphic scales, north arrows, how to layout drawings sheets, text sizing, etc. it can be found in the USNCD PDF file on the course Canvas site.

Sheet Naming and Numbering Conventions

When following the USNCD, all drawing sheets should be named and numbered per Table 1. However, note we will not use all of these plans this semester, as we are only focused on planting methods, we will specifically focus on the L-103 and possibly L-104 Sheets. Also, note there are two levels of sheet naming complexity, depending on your project’s needs.

Table 1: USNCD sheet numbering and naming conventions.

CAD Layer Conventions

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