Cloud-based software has streamlined the once-tedious as-built creation process, making it easy for teams to document what is actually being built as it’s being constructed.
Looking to up your as-builting game? Find tips in our guide to digital as-builts.
But with many construction software products offering a range of capabilities, it can be hard to choose a product with the features necessary to redline drawings and create accurate, high-quality as-builts.
So we’ve done some research for you and have reviewed top redline drawing and as-built software offerings that can make your documentation a breeze. Before we dive into those reviews, it’s important to understand some key terms and traits in order to select the right software for your project.
As-Built vs. Redline Drawing Software: Understanding the Difference
You’ve probably heard the terms “as-built” and “redline” used interchangeably. But they are two different concepts, and knowing what each is will help you better understand the capabilities and strengths of different software.
“Redlining” refers to the act of marking up drawings to reflect the changes made to the original design as construction takes place.
“As-builts” are the drawings that include all the redlines from different sources throughout the construction process. At the end of a project, they are packaged with additional project documentation and turned over to the owner as a record of exactly what was constructed and where everything is located.
Why the difference matters in evaluating software
“Redlining” capabilities generally refer to the tools that make revisions to drawings – which in a digital space includes not just marks and comments drawn on plans but attachment of other file types (photos, video, and project documents).
“As-built” centers more on the process and “record” aspect of the software – having all documentation up-to-date, accurate, organized, searchable, and ready to be exported for the owner at project close.
Most software in this space – certainly those reviewed in this blog – have both redlining and as-builting capabilities, but they may be stronger in one area over another. So it’s important to think about what functionality you require in your day-to-day work and to look closely at the traits of different software so you can select one that best meets your needs.
7 Key Traits to Look For in As-Built & Redline Software
High-quality as-builts are accurate, comprehensive, and capture and share data in real-time. To redline drawings effectively and create as-builts with these qualities, you'll want software with the following traits:
It’s critical to be able to mark up plans and document work from the jobsite. When data is captured and shared straight from the construction site, you avoid a game of telephone and ensure your data’s accuracy.
Field-friendly apps mean that workers can gather data and revise plans to reflect what they are building and finding on site in real time. Additionally, they can share updated project information immediately, so everyone on the team is always on the same page. Software with offline mode ensures that they can still capture important information even when internet connection is spotty or nonexistent.
2. Markup tools
Easy-to-use markup tools make it possible to revise plans and documentation directly so that no manual transfers of data are necessary – cutting down on the likelihood of transcription errors or information lost in the shuffle. Options to select colors, opacity, shapes, and line or border styles (dashed, dotted, double, etc.) enable customization.
3. Multimedia data capture
The ability to add photos, video, and comments to drawings at the specific locations they relate to provides vital context and streamlines communication. Visual documentation of your project also makes for a more accurate as-built.
For many redline drawing and as-built software, multimedia often falls under the umbrella of markup tools.
4. Ease of versioning
One of the biggest challenges of as-built creation – and project documentation in general – is making sure everyone is working from the most up-to-date information.
Software with the capability to automatically slip-sheet updated pages into plan sets and/or notify users when the drawing they’re looking at is not the latest version can alleviate headaches in drawing management.
5. Ease of use
Ideally, you want software that’s simple to learn and use. Complicated interfaces and confusing workflows will hurt adoption – workers in the field can’t afford to stop in the middle of tasks that require their full attention to fool with tricky field apps.
6. Cloud-based collaboration
As-built creation is a team effort that relies on dispersed workers updating documentation across the jobsite or even from remote offices.
Cloud-based software provides a centralized place to share, store, and view drawings and documentation. It also enables real-time communication and collaboration between the office and the field – which streamlines workflows and saves time and money.
When drawings are geolocated, stakeholders can see where work – and any related issues – are happening, not just in the context of the plan but in relation to the real world.
And by recording the actual location of an asset – and providing location data through the entire project record – the final as-built delivers higher value for owners and their operations and maintenance activities.
Reviews: As-Built & Redline Drawing Software
Revu | Bluebeam
PDF markup powerhouse
Bluebeam Revu is a go-to PDF creation and plan markup software in the construction industry, thanks primarily to its robust, easy-to-use redlining tools.
Users can upload and convert CAD drawings, Microsoft Office files, and scanned images into 2D or 3D PDFs, and then use the customizable markup tools to indicate changes and record as-built conditions. Annotations from the days of redlining paper plans can be easily replicated here – you can draw lines, shapes, clouds, and arrows, and add text to drawings. Plus, adding photo, video, and comment markups is simple.
With Bluebeam, users can communicate on drawings in a couple of ways.
First is to add comments to plans and then share the revised drawings via export and email. The second option is to leverage Studio, the cloud component of Revu. Users can use Studio Projects to store plans and documents where they are accessible by stakeholders at any time, and leverage Studio Sessions to set periods of time for team members to collaborate on a document in real time.
All three editions of Revu are Windows based. Bluebeam offers a mobile app – Revu for iPad – but reviews for it are mixed.
- PDFs are searchable by text and drawing elements
- Markups List tracks all drawing markups in a filterable table
- Ability to compare drawing versions with split screen or overlay
- 30-day free trial
- Basics: $240 per user
- Core: $300 per user
- Complete: $400 per user
OnePlace | Unearth
Geolocated as-builts & mobile redlining
OnePlace is map-based cloud software that’s built for the field and enables you to geo-reference your construction project.
OnePlace operates under the simple premise that geolocating project data on a digital map is a more intuitive way to organize drawings, photos, and documents – moving valuable data out of endless spreadsheets and file folders so it can be easily seen and used.
So how does it work?
Stake drawings to a map of your project’s real-world location, then add data captured with your smartphone or tablet – photos, video, and digital forms will automatically geolocate on your map. Use custom tools in the easy-to-use interface to draw as-built information onto your project map. You can also power real-time collaboration by commenting and tagging team members on your drawings.
Map views can be filtered to give you snapshots of your project at different points in time – ideal for gauging progress and reporting it to the owner at any stage of construction. At project close, easily export as-built documentation that not only gives a complete history of the asset but provides crucial location data that owners will appreciate during ongoing operations and maintenance.
- Custom, mobile-friendly tools that add multiple dimensions to your data
- Real-time collaboration on geolocated drawings
- Simple import and export of file types (PDF, CSV, XLS, Shapefile, GeoJSON, and KML)
- Integrations with Procore, Bentley, and Trimble
- Offline mode
- Available on Android, iOS, and web
- Unearth is now a part of Procore, stay tuned for updates on when map-based capabilities will be available in the Procore platform
Field-friendly drawing management
As the name suggests, Fieldwire is a field-forward solution for construction project management. As such, it includes features and tools designed to make it easy to view the most up-to-date plans and to redline drawings to accurately depict as-built conditions, all from the jobsite.
A link tool lets you connect other drawings, photos, videos, and forms to specific locations on your plan via hyperlinks. The task tool lets you pin tasks to specific locations on your plans to explain and assign issues that need attention. Markup layers can be toggled on and off to customize your view of a drawing. And offline mode ensures that, even if internet connection is spotty, your information will sync when you have connectivity again.
When new sheets are uploaded, Fieldwire software reads sheet names and descriptions, and automatically inserts sheets in the correct place in a plan set. Markups, assigned tasks, and linked files from previous versions are carried over to maintain the accuracy of your as-builts.
The platform saves all plan versions, not only documenting a full history of the project but enabling users to compare different drawing versions to see changes. At project close, as-built drawings can be easily exported as layered PDFs.
- Markup tools including freeform lines, highlighters, arrows, clouds, and comments
- Integrations with Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive
- Unlimited sheets with all paid plans
- Unlimited data storage
- Available on Android, iOS, and web
Pricing (billed annually)
- Basic: Free with limit of 5 users
- Pro: $39 per user per month
- Business: $59 per user per month
- Premier: $99 per user per month
PlanGrid Build | Autodesk
A pioneering paperless blueprint app – and now much more
PlanGrid started out as a cloud-based iPad app to replace paper blueprints. The software made it possible to view substantial plan sets in the field on a device – no more lugging around cumbersome printed plans or wasting time flipping through hundreds of sheets to find specific information.
Designed for workers on site, PlanGrid emphasized version control while providing simple markup tools for redlining plans. With PlanGrid on their devices, team members could be sure they were looking at the most up-to-date information and could easily navigate among sheets and revise drawings as necessary right from the jobsite.
Today, PlanGrid has retained its mobile plan viewing and redlining functionality – but offers much more. Autodesk acquired PlanGrid in 2018, and PlanGrid Build, as it’s currently known, is the free construction mobile app that comes with Autodesk Build.
PlanGrid users have the tools of a full construction management software at their disposal, including Autodesk Build’s convenient As-Built Export feature. With just a few clicks, you can select your desired configuration of sheets, submittals, RFIs, issues, and files, and the software will compile the as-built (a downloadable ZIP file of PDFs) according to your set parameters.
- Robust version control
- Hyperlinking to connect related sheets
- 30-day free trial
- Available on Android, iOS, and web
- $41/month with a limit of 550 sheets
- $73/month with a limit of 5,000 sheets
- $135/month with unlimited sheets
- Custom enterprise pricing
Robust construction project management – with extensive integrations
Procore is a project management platform built specifically for the construction industry. So, as you would expect, it has the tools necessary to manage drawings, redline, and update drawings in real-time with data captured in the field. In short, Procore records everything, so you have a tidy as-built by the end of the project.
Like Autodesk, Procore offers the convenience of having significant functionality in one place – enabling users to streamline their tech stacks. But for all its strength as a solution to manage construction projects from start to finish, it is more of a generalist than a specialist.
To meet more particular needs, Procore boasts integrations with many other software offerings.
- Impressive range of features and software integrations
- Unlimited users, data, and support with every subscription
- Available on Android, iOS, and web
- Variable pricing based on product selection and project volume
How to Use Software to Redline Drawings and Create As-Builts
Once you’ve selected your software, you can streamline your redline and as-builting process. Here are the day-to-day steps you’ll follow to document as-built information in sync with construction.
1. Upload plans
The first step is simple: upload your plans. If your plan is not already in PDF format, you’ll likely need to convert it. Bluebeam has several plug-ins for creating PDFs of CAD files from a few other softwares. Otherwise, it’s fairly easy to find converters online.
If you’re working with paper drawings, you’ll need to scan them and save them as PDFs, which can then be imported into your as-built and redlining software.
2. Mark up your drawings
Did you stumble upon undocumented utilities in the field? Needed to change the location of electric infrastructure? Use your software’s markup tools to redline construction drawings to accurately show as-built conditions.
Make traditional redline drawing changes with freeform lines, shapes, and text in colors of your choice to show additions and deletions to your plans. And take advantage of tools that enable you to pin additional file types to your drawings – photos, videos, and documents such as RFIs, change orders, and submittals.
With this change documentation attached to your drawings, you can create a richer project record, where all the information you need is easier to find.
3. Collaborate with team members
Using cloud-based software ensures that redlines from the field and changes originating from the office are shared to the team in real time. Stakeholders can access dynamic data that is continually updated, so they are always working from the most current drawing version and information.
With the cloud, there’s no need to manually transfer data – exporting static information (like a PDF) then sharing via email. While there is a place for that method of data sharing, the cloud helps you avoid the risk of errors or siloes that can arise with exporting and emailing files.
4. Track progress and assign work
A benefit of your team using cloud-based software to document what is being built is that you’ll have visibility into the real-time status and condition of your project at any given time.
That valuable stream of information will help to inform smart decision-making, and you can then use your software to communicate next steps with your team. Assign tasks and connect them to drawings, so assignees can quickly see exactly what work needs to be done where – even easily navigating to the correct work location when the task is pinned to a geolocated plan.
When they have completed their task, they can note it – and include photo documentation – in the same assignment, providing a complete record of work for the as-built.
5. Export your as-built
When the project wraps up, it’ll be time to deliver your as-built. Because changes have been documented and stored continuously, your software should be able to package all the information needed and export it with just a few clicks.
You’ll generally have a few options for the file type you want to export. For example, in OnePlace, you can export as-built documentation as GIS information in Shapefile, GeoJSON, or KML format. So be sure to find out what format the project owner would prefer.
Follow these steps and you’ll be using your software effectively to redline drawings and create high-quality as-builts.
Learn how to gain a competitive advantage with digital as-builts
Find additional best practices for creating digital as-builts and learn more about how they provide value during construction and after project turnover in our blog all about digital as-builts.