Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Construction Is {Slowly} Going Paperless

It wasn’t that long ago–five years maybe–that submitting items to an architect for approval meant making six copies to stamp. We would file two copies and the architect would distribute his four to various engineers and decision makers. Talk about a “paper trail.” Our filing cabinets were bursting at the seams.

These days, the process is managed via email and file transfer systems, saving time, money and trees. From design to construction to final documentation, digital files are becoming the medium of choice:

  • Instead of hand drawn sketches, we see computer renderings and BIM models.
  • Bid documents are sent digitally rather than mailing them to every subcontractor.
  • Specification books are in PDF format, so we may search for key words.
  • We file our documents on a server, rather than in a filing cabinet. Backups of digital files are made hourly and kept both on and off site for disaster recovery.

Paper plans have not completely been replaced…yet. We still keep an updated set of plans for each job, but many on our project management team choose to view and mark them up on our computer monitors. Down the line, we might replace our plan tables with a large tabletop touchscreen. The technology is out there, it’s just a matter of getting the kinks worked out.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.