About the United States National CAD Standard®

The United States National CAD Standard® (NCS) is comprised of The American Institute of Architect's CAD Layer Guidelines, the Construction Specification Institute's Uniform Drawing System (Modules 1-8), and the National Institute of Building Sciences BIM Implementation & Plotting Guidelines.

The NCS coordinates these publications to allow consistent and streamlined communication among owners and design/construction teams. Use of the NCS will result in reduced costs for developing and maintaining office standards and the transfer of building design data from design to facility management.

Adoption of the NCS by the building design and construction industry is voluntary. Several government agencies and private organizations have adopted and implemented the standard. A list of some of these adopters is available here.

Why the NCS

Until the existence of a National CAD Standard, building owners and building design and construction professionals faced the difficulty of comprehending and organizing electronic building design data produced in a multitude of formats.

The National CAD Standard coordinates the efforts of the building design and construction industry by classifying electronic building design data consistently, allowing streamlined communication among owners and design and construction project teams. This will result in reducing the costs of developing and maintaining individual office standards, and transferring building data from design applications to facility management applications. A National CAD Standard also offers greater efficiency in the design and construction process.

Benefits to Clients and Owners

  • Consistent organization of data for all projects, from all sources.
  • Greater clarity of communication of design intent to the client.
  • Streamlined electronic data management of Facility Management data.
  • Enhanced potential for automated document storage and retrieval.
  • Streamlined construction document checking process.

Benefits to Design Professionals

  • Consistent data classification for all projects, regardless of the project type or client.
  • Seamless transfer of information among architects, engineers, and other design team members.
  • Predictable file translation results between formats, reduced preparation time for translation.
  • Reduced file formatting and setup time when adopted by software application vendors.
  • Reduced staff training time to teach "office standards."
  • Streamlined checking process for errors and omissions.
  • New opportunities for expanded services and revenue beyond building design.
  • Added value to design services: Firms can feature compliance with the NCS.

Architect Rick Green explained, "Once we adopted the National CAD Standard, I can't quantify if our company is saving a certain percentage of our overhead. What I know for certain, though, is that the 'nuisance phone calls'–requests for more information, interpretation, or clarification–have all but disappeared."

Benefits to Contractors and Subcontractors

  • Consistent drawing sheet order and sheet organization; information appears in the same place in all drawing sets.
  • Consistent detail reference system.
  • Reduction of discrepancies, reducing the potential for errors, change orders, and construction delays.
  • Enhanced potential for automated payment process.
  • Consistent organization of data for all projects, from all sources.

Industry-wide Benefits to NCS Adoption

  • Reduced in-office training time with "collective professional memory" of a drawing standard.
  • Improved training at undergraduate and Graduate levels.
  • Enhanced potential for automated training and distance learning.
  • Substantial reduction of barriers to seamless exchange of building construction data, leading to greater efficiency and decreased costs.