What Are Redline Drawing Costs & CAD Drafting Rates for Construction Companies?

What Are Redline Drawing Costs & CAD Drafting Rates for Construction Companies?

Today we are telling you all about redline drawing fees and CAD drafting rates for construction companies. A redline drawing is a redline-corrected original architectural plan drawing. An original drawing (or draft) is typically drawn using black ink on plain paper. When an architect wants to alter the design or make corrections to specific details before approval, they will use red ink to highlight the changes. A contractor can also make changes to an architect’s approved plan during construction in the same manner.

Changes during a construction project can be due to the client’s request or unexpected on-site difficulties. Since the correction has to be legible on complex technical drawings, red ink highlights the mistakes and the proposed alteration. It must also be descriptive enough to define the new specifications. It is best to avoid hand-drawn redline markings and use digital tools to avoid confusion for the architects and clients. Rather enlist the asistance of an experienced CAD drawing company to make the alterations.

RELATED: How much blueprints cost for CAD floor plans, and 2D drawings rates at drafting firms?


Correction to an architect’s plan differs from modifications to a custom blueprint. A redline drawing correction is meant to fix mistakes or alter non-viable elements of a design during construction. In contrast, revisions mostly revolve around making significant changes to plans when the project is still in a preliminary design phase. The cost to make redline drawings is cheaper than blueprint modification.

Redline Drawings Cost
Services Turnaround Time
5 Days 3 Days Overnight
Text Markups $60 $85 $160
Structural Dimensional Markups $95 $120 $195

RELATED: How much do CAD drawing services cost for design drafting & architectural blueprints?

Note: Prices indicated are for a single CAD file. In comparison, altering a custom house plan can cost at least $150 for non-structural changes, $700 for minor modifications, and $2,500 for significant alterations. Redline markup services do not produce redline drawings in the first place; they merely convert rudimentary notes on an architect’s plan to a digital CAD file. Once the notes have been studied and reviewed for accuracy, the redline markups are incorporated into a new – redrafted or redrawn – CAD plan. Drafting & design services ensure that the notes are clear and legible for reference when the architect prepares a record drawing. 

 A contractor can send the notes in two formats:

  • Hard copy: the redlined drawing on a copy of an architect’s plan. The draftsperson will redraft the sheet, along with the markups, as a new digital file.
  • Soft copy: the contractor sends a hard copy of the redlined drawing and an existing unaltered digital architectural plan, so there is no need to redraft the original plan. The job only involves adding redlines as indicated on the printed material. The service may include file conversion if needed.

The contractor’s redline notes must be clear and legible regardless of the options. The draftsperson needs to be able to interpret the changes to ensure accuracy. All handwritten notes and lines are replaced with digital typeface in the finished file for clarity and consistency.

RELATED: The power of architectural CAD services

Redline, as-built, and record drawings – the differences

It can be challenging to distinguish between redline, as-built, and record drawings because some people mistakenly consider the terms interchangeable. They are all documents produced upon project completion, but they contain different information and are made by various professionals involved in the same construction project. As soon as the construction process concludes, the architectural design specialist and contractor work together to prepare as-built drawings for the client.

However, the process is much more complex than it seems. Upon project completion, the sub-contractors produce annotated or marked-up drawings to identify and specify all changes made to the original Issued for Construction (IFC) documents. The markup is written in red and must refer to a non-conformance report (NCR) and Request for Information (RFI). Some sub-contractors also use the architect’s notes as references. Sub-contractors don’t need to draft a new drawing for documentation; they can use the original plan and make corrections on the sheet.

Therefore, the term “Issued for Construction” is crossed (but not deleted) and written over with “Redline Drawing.” At the bottom of the page, the sub-contractor and the draftsperson creating the document provide their names and signatures. Supporting documents, including survey reports and CAD files, are included in the set. A single IFC may receive multiple redline Drawings from sub-contractors. If multiple sub-contractors handle different portions of a project, each has to provide at least one drawing of their part.

RELATED: 3D house and floor plans rates & costs for drafting services companies

The drawing reflects the scope of work completed in the construction, and the sub-contractor sends the documents to the contractor for review. Once reviewed and approved, the contractor submits the documents to the architect. On the job site, contractors and sub-contractors sometimes call the submitted documents “as-built,” although technically, all those files are still in their “redline drawings” form. To avoid further confusion, some contractors occasionally refer to the documents as “survey reports” or “survey data” instead. They cannot be considered as-built until the architect approves them.

Depending on the project agreement, the contractors may submit the same documents to the client’s utility providers, such as plumbing and electricity, for maintenance purposes. The redline drawings are the latest update of the building’s utility schematics. In case of unexpected incidents with the utilities, the companies will refer to the drawings before any repair.

Based on the contractor’s redline drawings, the architect produces another clean sheet of drawing from scratch, implementing all the changes indicated. There is no more markup; it is a revised version of the original construction plan. It reflects all RFIs, redline notes, and changes to the design. The revised plan is known as “record drawing.” An architect seals and stamps the drawing as the final construction document. Utility companies can now refer to the record drawing rather than the redline ones. 

RELATED: How much do architectural design services cost for freelance design service firms?


Redline is preparation for as-built

A redline drawing is never meant as the final construction document. It is indeed created after project completion, but it will be used only as a reference for the contractor to prepare an as-built. A contractor produces an as-built based on the information of design changes provided by sub-contractors. Ideally, there are only very few changes made to the original plan, especially for a small residential project.

In a large-scale construction with more than several sub-contractors involved, there can be some notable alterations to the original plan for various reasons. Redline drawings from various sub-contractors are compiled by the architectural drawing experts into a single comprehensive document, which represents the construction as is. By incorporating the changes, the contractor produces an as-built drawing. 

RELATED: What are as-built drawings costs & drafting rates at architecture companies?

General reminder about as-built and redline drawings

Redline drawings

  • An architect does not need to sign redline drawings. A contractor prepares the documents to reflect changes during construction, and an architect is not ultimately responsible for designs not included in their original plan drawing.
  • A digital redline drawing should use the same scale and legend as the original plan, and changes to structural dimensions should be marked or annotated accordingly.
  • A digital typeface is more legible than handwritten notes. Most contractors will avoid using ambiguous terms, such as similar, interchangeable, equal, indistinguishable, and equivalent, to emphasize the alterations.
  • A contractor should not delete the specifications, including the altered ones, from the original plan. The modified specifications are either crossed out or written over, and descriptions of the changes are provided as annotations.
  • All notes or descriptions about the changes of a single plan drawing should be written on a specific sheet. The method helps avoid confusion when preparing the as-built drawing.
  • Every note should come with a timestamp to specify the date of the changes. An organized data collection procedure helps avoid missing records. A consistent timestamp placement (on the drawing) is helpful. The completed redline drawing is dated, too. 
  • Red ink indicates deleted items, green is for addition, and blue represents additional details. The blue color is also used when writing instructions for the draftsperson.

RELATED: Learn about architectural design fee schedules, rates, and pricing for architect firms’ costs

As-built drawing

  • If there are no changes to the original document, a contractor should mark a copy of the original plan as an as-built.
  • If needs be, a contractor may include an index sheet as part of an as-built package. An index is usually necessary to document the changes listed in the redline drawings.
  • Submittal information, for example, shop drawings, can be included as part of appendixes. A shop drawing should come with a note explaining why the document is necessary and indicating where the actual item is in the original plan. 
  • An as-built drawing may include all fabrications and installations of equipment or component if the contract allows. Materials used and equipment installed during construction must specify their locations and specifications.
  • In case another contractor or consultant has to make an on-site visit and install specialty equipment, the as-built drawing needs to specify the type and location of the equipment as well.
  • Anchored or underground components and systems should come with a description of dimension, depth, elevation, flow direction, and types of material.

The contractor’s name should be listed, along with a note indicating that the redline drawing is intended only to prepare for the as-built. A complete set of as-built includes images (or photos) of the construction. All the documents must be scanned and stored as digital files for future reference. 

How Cad Crowd can assist

At Cad Crowd, we have the privilege of working with some of the world’s best freelance as-built drawings designers. If you’re looking for help with your project, get in touch with us for a free quote.

The post What Are Redline Drawing Costs & CAD Drafting Rates for Construction Companies? first appeared on Cad Crowd.
Back to blog