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Last edited 20 Sep 2021
Given the potentially large number of people that may be involved in such projects, including clients, consultants, contractors, subcontractors, and other stakeholders, the amount of information created can be enormous and may include letters, sketches, drawings, schedules, bills of quantities, specifications, contracts, models and so on. This includes information that, whilst it may have been superseded, nevertheless contributed to the overall realisation of the project and so is typically retained for record purposes.
The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 defines project information as; 'Information, including models, documents, specifications, schedules and spreadsheets, issued between parties during each stage and in formal Information Exchanges at the end of each stage.'
 Types of information
- Feasibility studies, options appraisals, sketches, design drawings (plans sections, elevations), working drawings, schedules (e.g doors, windows, ironmongery etc), models, specifications, instructions, request for information, letters, etc.
- Reports, calculations, drawings, junction details, site surveys, test results etc
- Bills of quantities and schedules.
- Contracts, invoices, purchase orders, certificates, notices.
- Applications and permissions.
 Information formats
The advent of the digital age and increasingly of proprietary software has meant that a wide range of formats are available for information. In addition to the traditional formats of hard-copy print (namely paper), information may also be created as digital files, such as CAD (e.g AutoCAD and Revit), data that may be kept as a part of a building information model (BIM) and so on.
This can cause interoperability problems, and file exchange formats have had to be developed that can allow the transfer of information between different types of proprietary software (with varying success).
For storing information there are various options:
- Traditional filing cabinets and drawing chests (for paper-based information);
- Local computer hard drives;
- Cloud-based services;
- Common data environments.
The digital revolution that has occurred in the past two decades has, in some respects, served to generally reduce the amount of paper that is produced in a building project. The old practice of issuing drawings to the client and other consultants, then reissuing them with amendments, repeating the process whenever new amendments were needed so that each person amassed a wodge of drawings, may no longer be necessary.
In place of paper-based information, an electronic file may simply be emailed to the relevant parties or, if BIM is being used, the model can be updated once in real time: the updated information is available instantly and accessed whenever any of the parties choses to see the model. This means far less paper is generated (therefore better for the environment) and everybody sees the latest version of the information. Even email has reduced the amount of paper being used: fewer letters in the post, fewer faxes being sent and cheaper than sending mail in the post.
At certain stages in the design process, a complete package of information will be provided for the client to approve. Once this approval has been given, a change control procedure may be introduced to ensure that the approved information is not changed without the express permission of the client.
Organisations may have their own internal quality management system or ISO 9001 certification that sets out their document control procedures, but on a building design project, the consultant team members and the client may wish to agree a common system of document control.
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