1. Q-CAD Drafting Procedures2. Custom Profile Data3. AIA Layering Standards4. CAD Symbols, Blocks, Attributes5. Data Conflicts on Original Drawings6. CAD Standards7. Polygon Layer
Q-CAD Drafting Procedures

Q-CAD employs 40+ CAD operators, managers and trainees. Our CAD Department consists of highly skilled users of AutoCAD, Revit and Microstation specializing in architectural, engineering, civil and construction documents.  Q-CAD handles 100% of all CAD drafting and quality control tasks for each new project (we do not outsource to other companies or subcontractors).

Q-CAD follows the steps listed below to convert drawings into popular CAD formats. Our 2D and 3D BIM drawing conversions are performed using AutoCAD, Revit and Microstation software applications. Below is a list of CAD conversion steps performed by Q-CAD  for your project:


  1. Your scanned TIF/PDF/JPG files, original blueprints, paper, or mylars are logged in as a new project. Microsoft Project is used to index, manage and track all documents and log each step of the conversion process. Your project's special requirements are reviewed by our staff engineers and architects. These special requirements often include: layering guidelines or standards; titleblocks; blocks, fonts; hatching; file naming conventions. A technical staff representative will contact you immediately if your project requirements are not completely understood. A CAD operator is then selected based on the project type and complexity. The operator is supplied with written detailed instructions fully describing your project.
  2. The CAD operator manually redraws the sheet using the dimensions shown on your original document. If cases when dimensions are not provided on the original document, the CAD operator manually scales the actual dimensions, bearings, distances and coordinates from the original document and then draws each entity into CAD. During the conversion, each entity is placed on the appropriate AIA, LITE, Tri-Services, or CUSTOM layer, and any blocks supplied by the client are incorporated into drawing. The result is a dimensionally accurate, full-scale, layered, AutoCAD (DWG), Revit (RVT), or Microstation (DGN) file.
  3. The CAD operator performs Level 1-QC to assure that the converted CAD file matches the original document.
  4. The CAD file enters Level 2-QC where the CAD manager plots the DWG/RVT/DGN file and compares it to the original document for accuracy. Errors and omissions are noted and the CAD manager works with the CAD operator to assure that all errors and omissions are corrected as necessary.
  5. The CAD file enters Level 3-QC where the CAD manager reviews the corrected document for 100% accuracy. Spelling checks, layering standards, file x-refs (when applicable) are verified.
  6. The CAD file enters Level 4-QC where it is visually compared to the hardcopy original document. Additional files are created based on the final CAD file:  PDF-color, PDF-black/white, TIF, CTB/TBL (color table files for client plotting). Once Level 4-QC testing is completed the files are ready to be distributed to the client.
  7. The completed electronic files are prepared for electronic transfer via email, FTP, or CD-ROM. The CAD files returned to the customer using email or FTP are compressed into a ".zip" format. WinZIP applications are used to compress each file for economical file transfers.
  8. Q-CAD, Inc. creates a package to be returned to the customer. The package includes all documents requested by the client including final electronic files on media, original hardcopies (if requested), and invoice. Upon request by the customer, the original paper documents (if shipped to our office) can be returned or destroyed. All electronic CAD file are automatically archived by Q-CAD, Inc. for future needs by the client or the files can be destroyed upon request.
  9. Backups: Q-CAD maintains electronic backups of converted CAD files over the most recent 5 years. A backup is created daily and includes: 1) project profile standards; 2) TIF images of original sheets submitted by client to be converted; 3) final CAD files; 4) any updated CAD files. Project data can be retrieved for the Customer at any time.
Custom Profile Data

Q-CAD creates a "customer profile" to ensure consistency across multiple projects. When a new project is received by Q-CAD, the standards, blocks, fonts, titleblocks, etc included in the customer profile are applied to each project. A customer may also have multiple "project profiles" to handle concurrent projects. Before beginning a large conversion project, Q-CAD recommends that the customer send several documents, along with the specific layering standards, blocks, etc. for an initial conversion. This way, Q-CAD can work with the client to assure that conversions meet specific standards before the actual conversion project begins.

AIA Layering Standards

CAD layering standards are essential to seamlessly share graphic information data throughout the CAD industry. Implementation of layers in a CAD file enables better management of visual information.

The most widely used layering standards have been developed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Q-CAD automatically uses the AIA layering standards during the conversion of a document unless the client has supplied their own set of layering standards.

CAD layers are organized into major categories or groups. The major groups are further subdivided into minor groups. Each group represents a layer in the converted CAD file. Each layer is labeled using a consistent, easy-to-remember abbreviation. The major groups defined by the AIA include:

See the complete AIA Layering Guidelines:

A  Architectural
C  Civil
E  Electrical
F  Fire Protection
G  General
H  Hazardous Materials
I  Interiors
L  Landscaping
M  Mechanical
P  Plumbing
Q  Equipment
R  Resource
S  Structural
T  Telecommunications
X  Other Disciplines
Z  Contractor Shop Drawing

The colors for each layer should be consistent and all objects shall be drawn in color BYLAYER. This means that all objects assigned to a specific layer should be the same color. Occasionally, the need to create a new layer can arise in cases when custom defined, or AIA layering standards are not available. Typically, any unused drawing layers should be purged from the converted CAD document.

For more information about the AIA CAD Layer Guidelines, please contact:

Task Force on CAD Layer Guidelines
C/o The American Institute of Architects
1735 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006

CAD Symbols, Blocks, Attributes

Symbol libraries, blocks and attributes are additional tools designed to better organize the CAD entities in your converted CAD files. Advantages of incorporating symbols, blocks and attributes into your CAD files is that they enable you to automatically export CAD data into other report forms. For example, you can automatically count the total number of door symbols, window symbols, etc. that appears on a floorplan. Alternatively, you can export floorplan attributes such as room name, room number, area, perimeter, etc. for use with space management software applications.

At Q-CAD, we encourage our clients to submit any predefined symbols, blocks and attributes with each order. During our conversion process, we then automatically incorporate this reference data into each CAD file. Symbol libraries, blocks and attributes are not necessary, however, they will provide added control and flexibility for your final converted documents.

Data Conflicts on Original Drawings

Ambiguities can exist on almost any sheet and there must be conversion "rules of thumb" in place to handle them.  These rules also ensure communication consistency between Q-CAD and our clients. Some of our common ambiguities and "rules-of-thumb" include: undimensioned original drawings, unclear data on the original documents, and data conflicts.

Undimensioned Drawings

In cases of converting undimensioned drawings, or drawings with fewer than 20% dimensions shown on the original documents, our CAD operators perform the following heads-up digitizing procedure:

  1. The document is scanned to create electronic raster TIF image.
  2. The raster image is imported into AutoCAD, Revit, or Microstation and appears as a background image. During the drafting process, the CAD operator uses the background as a reference to create the CAD file. The CAD operator manually draws all entities such as text, notes, title blocks, drawing titles, detail references, schedules, etc. During the conversion, the CAD operator also incorporates layering, blocks, etc. provided by the client.
  3. The CAD operator performs Level 1-QC to ensure the document matches the original.
  4. The file enters Level 2-QC where the CAD manager plots the file and compares it to the original blueprint document for accuracy. Errors and omissions are noted and the CAD manager works with the CAD operator responsible for the hand redraw to assure that all errors and omissions are corrected.
  5. The file enters Level 3-QC where the CAD manager again reviews the corrected document for quality assurance.
  6. The electronic file is transferred to Level 4-QC. The electronic file is visually compared to the hardcopy original document. Once Level 4-QC testing is completed, the files are ready to be distributed to the client.

Unclear Entities on Original Documents - IMPORTANT

When data on the original documents is unclear or difficult to interpret, the CAD operator creates a "README" layer in the CAD file. For each unclear entity that appears in the converted CAD file, the CAD operator inserts a "red box". The red box is an identifier that displays the unclear data. Our clients can then quickly zoom into the unclear area and make any necessary modifications. The "README" layer also goes through four levels of QA and will remain after Level 4-QC only in cases where the data was too unclear on the original sheets to convert.

Dimensional Conflicts

Because Q-CAD operators manually redraw each entity shown on the original document, occasionally a dimension shown on the original document will conflict with the measurement scaled by our operator. In such cases, the actual dimension shown on the document is used as the default. The scaled CAD dimension is shown in RED on the "README" layer. Therefore, we can ensure that all of our conversions are dimensionally correct.

CAD Standards

CAD documents are used by many disciplines and for many purposes. Before beginning a CAD conversion project, many companies establish a set of internal guidelines to make it easier to reuse drawings for multiple purposes. Such guidelines ensure seamless communication when CAD documents are created, used, or revised by employees, consultants or contractors in multiple locations or by other software applications that work with CAD files. Conversion standards also automatically manage the searching and indexing of large volumes of CAD files.

During our experience in the CAD conversion business, we have observed many different conversion standards. Given this knowledge base, we have created the following list of 6 recommended standards that you may choose to consider when developing your own standards.

Drawing Standards

Several primary conversion standards should be adhered to during the translation of paper documents into CAD.  These standards include the following:

Title block:
Each converted sheet should use the appropriate title block, logos, and sheet borders. A title block should be created for each sheet size:  A, B, C, D, E

Model space:
All document entities, dimensions, symbols, notes, etc. should be placed in Model Space. Q-CAD recommends that all entities be drawn in Model Space.

A set of present variables can be established for the document conversions to ensure consistency.

File Name – Drawing Number

To easily identify a specific building or drawing, the converted CAD files should be saved using a combination of the building name/number and the sheet number. As each document is converted, it should be added to an electronic index so that it can be quickly cross-referenced and located. The following example illustrates an easy to locate filename convention:

Format: EJH00101.DWG
Where: E=Drawing Type (such as E=Electrical)
JH=Building number/name (such as Johnson Hall)
0101=Drawing sequence number (sheet number)
01=Revision number or letter

Text, Dimensions, Linetype Styles

Standard text fonts are ROMANS and ROMAND. Typically, a standard text height should be defined, however, the text width should be flexible to accommodate the contents of each sheet. Often, in the case of a crowded sheet it may become necessary to adjust the text width to properly fit the text on the sheet. The following illustrates a text style:

Example:  08ROMANS15

08=width factor=0.8=width of letter
15=oblique angle (omitted when set to 0)


Blocks are common for repetitive entities that exist on a document, such as doors, windows, toilets, etc. To ensure that all employees, contractors, and consultants use a consistent set of defined blocks, we recommend that a block legend be created. This legend should define all blocks. Blocks should be consistent among all drawings included in a set of plans or a project. For example, if a call-out block "X" is used in one drawing, it must appear as the same block "X" in all other drawings. Blocks should be created on Layer 0 and then inserted onto their correct layer in the drawing. When the block is inserted, it should be re-scaled to match the scale of the current drawing. All blocks should be listed in the drawing index, while unreferenced blocks should be purged from the drawing.

Polygon Layer

CAD documents are often used by other software applications that work with CAD files. Architects and planners often need facility data such as the area square footage of a room or a section of a building. Whereas, a structural engineer may need to find the cross-sectional area of a beam. The solution:  add a polygon layer to the document. The CAD operator simply draws a closed polygon over the top of each room and over the entire building. The polygon layer then enables the export of precise information about the drawing such as room area, perimeter, location of an object, etc. that can be used with other software applications.

There are 3 primary polygon layer standards that can be used for defining polygons: (Q-CAD_BOMA_IFMA_Inst_Polygon_Standards.pdf):

1) BOMA - Building Owners and Managers Association International Standards

2) Institutional - Higher Education, K-12 Schools Standards

3) IFMA - International Facility Managers Association Standards

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