Reading the Language of Construction

Drawings and Specifications Series

The simple truth of construction is that the majority of foremen, superintendents and office management staff have never actually LEARNED how to read construction plans and specifications. This series seeks to provide fast paced and critical information about our most important project documents in a light-weight and digestible fashion.

Over the course of (4) three hour sessions, we’ll review all critical drawing components and improve your overall team vocabulary on “speaking construction!” We recommend using a REAL plan set that you provide, so we can focus and train to the documents your team sees every day. (We can also provide generic prints if this isn’t an option).

Come check out this Arcade “Best-seller” and give your team the power to take your projects back in control. Help them catch mistakes before they occur in the field!

  • Understanding How Drawings Work

  • The Core Elements of Construction

  • Secondary Plan Sets

  • Understanding and Reading Specifications

Understanding How Drawings Work

Often, in construction, we learn to read drawings and plans by doing it. We figure out how to get to the information we need the most, and that’s how we interact with the project documents. The truth is, drawings and specifications represent vital information about the project, and reading those documents is like a whole language of its own. We’ll take a step back and work through interpreting that language – understanding how to navigate the entire set of drawings, decoding the symbols and abbreviations and talking about concepts like revision sets, scale, and the specific ins and outs of working with digital drawing sets.

Some Topics Covered:

  • Understanding Why Drawings and Specifications Are Important

  • Understanding How Drawings Are Organized

  • Symbols and Abbreviations in Drawings


Learn About How Drawing Sets Work

Learn to Speak Construction!


Understand the Entire Design System

Work Our Way From the Ground Up!

The Core Elements of Construction

Many trade contractors tend to focus on understanding the work of THEIR trade only! Electricians focus on electrical. Framers focus on partition layout. The list goes on.

In this portion of the series, we’ll focus on understanding construction drawings as a complete design system. We begin with Civil, move our way through Architectural, and then dive into understanding the “bones” of the building in Structural.

By understanding the multiple building systems and how they work together, we are able to identify indirect problems and conflicts LONG before they occur in the field. This approach saves countless time and dollars on every project (not to mention unnecessary stress of conflict and delay!)

  • Civil Plans

  • Architectural Plans

  • Structural Plans

  • Drawing Hierarchy and Inter-connection

Secondary Plan Sets

After developing a strong understanding of the primary systems of a building, we shift our focus to learning about specialty trades and assemblies in every building. We review the unique Design-Build relationships that are common for MEP systems and how they differ from other areas of work.

Spending time understanding Mechanical, Electrical, & Plumbing drawings at a basic level improves the overall strength and vocabulary of the team. This allows all team members to ask the right questions at the right time to prevent design flaws from the project start.

Finally we’ll review exterior enclosure systems and assemblies and learn about the careful work of building skin and proper techniques for shop drawing review.

  • Design-Build Relationships

  • MEP Plans

  • Exterior Enclosure Plans and Shop Drawings


Review Specialty Trades and Assemblies

Ask the Right Questions at the Right Time


Learn to Read and Manage Specifications!

The Construction Document Most IGNORED By Project Teams!

Understanding and Reading Specifications

The last session involves learning about the construction document most often ignored by project teams; SPECIFICATIONS. If Construction Drawings communicate QUANTITY, Specifications communicate QUALITY. A solid understanding of construction specs is required in order to deliver consistently successful projects.

We’ll review construction CSI Divisions and develop a solid understanding of how they relate to construction drawings (including Division 01!) We provide best practices of sections to include in your review and which tricky sections to approach with caution.

We wrap the series by dissecting targeted specification sections to understand how they are constructed and leave participants with an improved comfort in managing this project risk.

  • CSI Divisions

  • Determining Relevant Spec Sections

  • How to Read Spec Sections

  • Reviewing a Set of Real World Specifications

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about the program?
What does Arcade's Involvement Look Like?
This is a custom program, built around the needs of your project and team. While the frequency of meetings will vary, based on the size of the project, the size of the team and the general needs for practical skills training, you should expect Arcade to run regular project / training meetings, as well as spending regular focused time with company leadership to strategize and report back about the status of the project. Want to know more about how this program might work for one of your upcoming projects? Contact us and let’s talk!
Where is the Program Held?
*** During the current COVID crisis, we are working through the early phases of projects remotely with project teams, in order to facilitate getting the best use out of the time during which we can’t meet. However, this program, as soon as it’s practical and safe again, is held in person with Arcade staff. ***

Again, as a custom program, this can look different based on your needs. However, usually we hold project meetings in your space – either your office or the jobsite, as it’s most practical for your team.

We do also have our own training space in West Seattle, and can hold sessions there as well.

What are the Computer Requirements of the Program? (Hardware/Software)
The great bonus of running a custom program like this is that we will use YOUR software. All your team needs, to start, is whatever tools you are currently using to run your projects.

As we run the project, if we recognize hardware needs (i.e. a team member who could really use an updated laptop) or software needs (if you have tools that just aren’t quite filling your needs anymore) we will make recommendations and help you implement any changes you elect to make.

What kind of Project is Best for Project Coaching
It’s important that we have time to learn new skills and processes and to drill those skills and processes until they become second nature – like muscle memory. For that reason, the best project for this program is a project that goes on for as long as possible. Project Coaching is most successful when run with projects with a 3 – 12 month duration.

Another great benefit of Project Coaching is that we often see companies use it to grow into a new class of bigger, more complex projects. The most successful Project Coaching projects are a little bigger and more complex than your usual project, or may deal with work that is new to you. This can be a great way to put some training wheels on a project that might otherwise be a stretch for your outfit!

What if I Have MORE Questions?
You can always reach out to us! We’re here to help. Come in for a tour of our training space, have an espresso and let’s chat!

Contact us today!

Do you want to find out just how much better your projects can run? Let Arcade help!