Computer-Aided Design (CAD)/Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) has revolutionized the workflow across the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, making it more efficient. However, the Philippines currently lacks a standard CAD format to follow, hindering effective collaboration among professionals.

The problem is that there isn’t a standard CAD format here that can be referred to similar to the US, such as the Uniform Drawing System under the US National CAD Standard. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware that there is such a thing. I’ve been exposed to CAD drawings more than enough that having to know those standards seem unnecessary because on the surface, they all look the same to me. Once you learn the core functionalities of the CAD software, you can use it any way you like to get the job done, regardless of whether you follow a specific standard or not. At the end of the day, what matters is the final printed output, not the system you used to create those colored lines on your screen.

An excerpt from US National CAD Standard ®- V6 Module 6 – Symbols

Now, there lies the problem. When we understand the ins and outs of CAD software, we tend to develop a standard for ourselves – wholly isolated from how our colleagues do theirs. While it’s perfectly fine to have individual styles, it can cause issues when it comes to collaborating on projects. Digital content received from others may contain drawing and documentation elements that are not aligned with what we’re used to working on, making it harder to work together effectively.

It’s frustrating when we have to adjust drawings to fit our standards. This process can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with large sets of drawings from multiple consultants. We spend unproductive hours changing the color of the lines to match our pen assignments, modifying text styles, reassigning object lines to our standard layers, or scaling them to match our drawing units instead of accomplishing other tasks of higher importance. If we require the consultants to match our standards after the fact, an unwanted delay is apparent. Worse, sometimes we decide it would be easier to redo their drawing ourselves entirely, which is even more wasteful. Unfortunately, we do this to satisfy our “micromanager” self, but it doesn’t yield much in the end.

My Colleague does Not Follow or Adopt My CAD Standards. Now What?

Relax. It’s not the end of the world. It is important to remember that there is currently no CAD standard in the Philippines. Adoption will likely be voluntary if it ever comes to existence. We have the freedom to approach our work in any way that suits us best. Everything should be fine as long as the drawings convey the design intent accurately and effectively. Focus on reviewing the design and layout rather than nitpicking the drafting. Ramming your standards down the throats of your colleagues could cause them to implement new standards, which would require additional time and resources and could result in extra fees.

Conversely, if you are hell-bent on enforcing your standards to all your consultants, inform them upfront. You should expect nothing less if they agree. By implementing your standards across all drawings, you can collectively enhance the quality of your work and improve efficiency. This will likely result in you re-hiring them because your requirements were met. Further, if you refer them to your colleagues who require similar output, their chances of getting more projects from you and your referrals increase, giving you leverage to negotiate their fees.

Quality Work Means Quality Consultant

I have a bias toward colleagues whose drawing standards and workmanship closely match mine. Such judgment comes naturally in some aspects of our lives. We tend to gravitate towards people who share similar attributes and interests. In case I am in the process of selecting a new architect or engineer to work with – all qualifications and fees being equal – show me their set of drawings without their names on it, and I would choose the one whose drawings have standards and workmanship that resembles or better than mine. Why? Because quality work often equates to a quality consultant. Just by looking at the outputs, I can easily tell if the consultant paid attention to detail, reviewed the drawings before releasing them, and had a high level of care for the project and the Client, just like I would. It’s also a clear indication that CAD standards are well-implemented in their workflow. As someone who has done and seen manual and computer-aided drawings in various forms and sizes for over a decade, I can confidently recognize quality work when I see one.


Having a well-defined set of CAD standards is always better than having none. Effective communication is the key to resolving issues arising from differences in the presentation and organization of drawings among your colleagues. Until all Accredited Professional Organizations in the AEC industry in the Philippines, such as the United Architect of the Philippines (UAP), Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), Philippine Institute of Interior Designers (PIID), and many others, convene and develop a national CAD standard that must be strictly followed, we are free to create our own. Unfortunately, that means we will have to endure or get used to these problems for much longer. I am hopeful that there will come a time when we can worry less about CAD standards and focus our efforts on what we do best – creating functional and beautiful spaces.

You should use the Tool Palette feature in CAD. You’re missing a lot if you don’t. Read this article to learn how to use and create a custom tool palette.

Share Your Thoughts